Before you even have a website design, you’ll need a domain. This is the gateway to your site–the first thing a visitor sees before your page even loads. It’s important!
I get a handful of questions on domain best practices when working with clients and potential clients after I ask them about their domain – where to buy it, how much will it cost, how do I even do this, etc.
If this is your first time buying a domain, don’t sweat! It is pretty simple, but below are a few recommendations I often give my clients before they start.
1. A domain (example.com) costs about $15/yr.
2. Once you own a domain, you can point it to an existing website or a new website. Or you don’t need to point it anywhere if you want to hold it for future use. This can be for future projects, future event pages, or anything you feel you could use the domain for in the future.
3. You can set up an email account on that domain through your domain registrar or a website host. You do NOT need a website to use the domain for email.
4. Multiple domains can point to a single website.
5. If your name is available as a .COM (e.g. chrisesh.com) you should buy it, even if you don’t have plans to use it. It could one day be a professional portfolio, online resume, blog, or business. You might consider buying domains for your kids as well.
6. For a business website, do your best to get a .COM, even if you have to compromise a bit on the domain (e.g. since spacious.com is owner by corny WeWork, I opted for spaciousphilly.com). For a nonprofit, get a .ORG (and also the .COM version if it’s available).
7. Aside from the core extensions (.COM, .ORG, .EDU, .GOV), there are many other domain extensions available (e.g. example.site, example.net, example.inc., example.blog). These are becoming more common but still way less valuable than a .COM. If your audience is less tech-saavy I’d avoid these domains.
8. Do not use the .CO extension. It seems like a sleek alternative to .COM. But I once had a coworker look at a business card for a cool new startup that used the .CO domain and she was like “Ha, look! They made a typo on their business card!”
9. It doesn’t really matter where you buy your domains, since they can point anywhere no matter where you buy them from. My favorite place to purchase a domain is hover.com. And avoid Network Solutions like the plague.
10. Again, domains should cost about $15-20/yr. You’ll probably receive letters periodically from scammers billing you hundreds of dollars to renew your domain. Ignore these. I’m not aware of any domain registrars or website hosts that use paper mail for billing and renewals.
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