There are first steps and then there are FIRST STEPS when it comes to setting up your new WordPress site. You can’t get more basic than deciding on your domain!
No matter how knowledgeable you are (or aren’t) about setting up a new site, there’s a few steps that come before you ever touch the site. And one of the biggies is setting up and understanding the mysterious domain.
One-Minute Geek Note – All about ‘The Domain’
Sad but true, I’ve had folks email asking me to help them set up a new site who didn’t have a CLUE what I meant when I asked them what their domain name was. Hopefully you have a leg up there, and you know what a domain is. Just in case, though, here’s a quick and geek-free definition:
A domain for your site is literally your FIRST impression every site visitor will have – whether they view the domain URL on your business card or find you in a search on Google.
It’s the address to your house on the web. Actually, it’s like the nickname to your address on the web. In the same way you provide a street address to someone coming to your home, you give a domain name and/or URL to someone you want to find you online.
I live at Katrina Moody (the site!) online, and my address (URL) is https://katrinamoody.com …
You can learn more factoids if you’re interested, including how the domain names are literally broken down and what all the techie terms mean, if you check out Net for Beginners over at About.com – but I’m going to guess most of you just want to know the basics.
The Geeky Basics – you Have to Buy a Domain Name!
You really do! Because domain names are part of a full URL and everyone wants their address online to be easy-to-remember, there’s actually a lot of competition involved in getting some domain names. Which means that you have to decide who you are going to purchase a name from, and then you have to search to see if the one you want is still available.
You purchase your domain name as part of the process of purchasing your address online. I use NameCheap.com for my domain name purchases online – they’re cheap and reliable. But you can choose whatever company you want to handle your domain name purchase for you.
IMPORTANT: Your domain name and purchasing that domain name does NOT mean you now have a site online – it’s kind of like the paperwork part of setting up shop online. You have to have the domain name to launch your new site, BUT simply having the domain name isn’t enough to launch your site. Make sense?
What do you need to think about before purchasing your new Domain Name?
There are LOTS of pieces of the domain name puzzle, including inherent SEO value and even going into DNS (ack – a geeky term! Hover over it for a quick and dirty definition).
But for a business owner or blogger who is new to it all, keep in mind the basics and you’ll be set:
- Short and sweet is always a great start – sometimes you just can’t go for a short domain name – but the shorter the better: it’s easier to remember, harder to misspell, and easier to translate into all your branding materials. Really.
- Extra is okay – consider purchasing misspellings as well as common .com, .net variations if they are available so you own the market on that domain. You can always forward them to your primary domain.
- Brand yourself? Consider whether you want to brand yourself or an actual brand – there are different reasons to choose one over the other! Read more from branding and social media expert Kim Garst on why you might want to choose personal branding)
So, in this quick and dirty intro to domain names we’ve learned what they are, how you get one, why you need one, and whether you need more than one. Your action plan is to choose your domain registrar (the actual company you’ll purchase those domains through), choose your domain name, and click to buy if you haven’t already.
One last note – I recommend AGAINST having your hosting and your domain with the same company – there are lots of reasons but the biggest is generally companies who handle hosting aren’t the best at domains, and those who rock at domains aren’t the best at hosting. Learn more about the basics of hosting in the next Geek Notes installment.
Have any other questions about domain names? Ask them below and I’ll consider addressing them in a One-Minute Geek Note soon!
Also published on Medium.