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How to set up a new website – Step 1 – Get a domain name

Step 1 Fireworks by Jason O'Halloran via FlickrSituation:  I want to set up a new website

  • I’ve already mocked up what I want on a local (WAMP) server on my PC (not necessary to complete this step but I have done).
  • I’ve thought up a domain name which I am happy with.
  • I’ve already checked on Domainr, or a similar service, that my name has not been taken (is available.)

Task:  To buy a domain name

And have its nameservers pointing  at my hosting service, i.e. so customers who ask the internet for my domain name are set to the computer where my website will sit (be served).

Steps to get a new domain up-and-running

#1  Registrar

First, I must choose a registrar where I buy the domain name and renew it annually.  A registrar is a telephone directory or index for internet.  There are many and they cleverly cross-reference each other.   The best know is GoDaddy.com.

To make my choice

  1. Does the Registrar cover the address that I want?  A Registrar covers a  limited range of TLD or top level domains.  For example, a registrar in the US may not cover .co.uk addresses.
  2. How easy is it to point the Name Servers that will be listed with my domain name to the computers that will be hosting my website?  Have I got clear instructions from both ends – the registrar service and the hosting service (or Posterous or WordPress.com – the place where my website will physically sit)?
  3. If I have more than one registrar on my shortlist, is there any difference in their prices and reputation?
  4. Do I want to use my hosting service as my registrar or is it better to have ‘two suppliers’?
  1. My hosting service might give me a discount on the domain name (a few pounds or dollars) but now they have more power over me (they have my site and my domain name under their administrative control).
  2. I may have to buy my domain name elsewhere if they don’t offer my preferred TLD (top level domain – like .co.uk).
  3. If I buy (and renew) my domain name with a separate registrar to limit the power of your hosting service over me but then I must remember to  my domain name on time and to pointing the name servers listed at the registrar to the IP address of the hosters where my  website physically sits.
    1. I must enter the data of the registrar at your hoster and your hoster at the Registrar!
    2. Adminstratively, I must have two sets of commercial transactions that I must diarize 1-2 years ahead and coordinate.

#2 Buy your domain name

Now I have chosen my name and my registrar, I must buy my domain name.  I chose to buy a domain name through my hosters.  That means I don’t have an additional task of pointing the name servers to them.   If you choose to split the hosting and the registration, you will need other instructions.

  1. Get the right credit card (business or personal)
  2. Go to the online home of the Registrar (and probably set up an account.  I used my hosting service and I already had an account.)
  3. Find the right page and click whatever button to buy a domain name.
  4. The registrar tests whether the name is available. (If they don’t, clear out fast!).
  5. When they have confirmed the name is available (a few seconds), they ask for credit card details and an email address.
  6. They also suggest that I list my address at their office rather than display my full address on the internet.  I don’t know the pros and cons but I chose to list their address because I am tired of spam.
  7. When money has changed hands, they promise me an email and tell me to patient.  It takes a day or two for the network of domain name servers to gossip among themselves that my domain name isnow taken and that anyone who asks for it should visit my hosters.
  8. Finally, a job is not finished ‘until the money is in the bank.’  Print two copies of their email and put one in the expenses file for the accountant and one in the file holding all the details about this website.

#3 Test the domain name

Type in the new domain name to the browser bar (not Google – the browser bar) and see if it comes up.

This one worked quickly but don’t panic for up to three days.

PS The name does not show up in Google and should not show up in Google. Their search spiders don’t know the site is there and we don’t want to be found yet.  There is nothing to see.

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