Website Design Info - Part 2
This is the second of eight articles about website design. Our discussion will deal with some of the issues which need to be considered when developing a new online presence. You may have already thought of some of these, but perhaps there are probably things which you haven't even considered.
In the last article, we gave some thought as to what the company wants to do with its online presence. This article discusses what kind of name the online business will have, or "What kind of 'dot' do I need."
The Great American Widget Company is a manufacturer of widgets, that common household item that many find indespensible. Until now, however, Great American has been a 'brick and mortar' business. With the founder's son just out of college, he is looking forward to expanding the company's business on the Internet.
What's with all the dots! What kind of a 'dot' do I need?
Good question! First, let me say that if you're in business and wish to advertise your products or services on the Net, you must have your own domain name and a good hosting provider. Keep your domain name as simple and focused as possible.
A marketing maxim that if you're advertising to the general public, is that it is vitally important to present a simple, memorable message. Web addresses are no exception to this. A well-chosen domain name can be absolutely essential to your enterprise on the Internet. Some of the words used here may be new to you and sound "technical", but don't worry about it - just think of it as background material. And, as you get more familiar with the web, it all comes together.
Okay, that said, let's talk about the different types of domain names, and "Just what is a domain name?"
In simple terms, a domain name is a human-language equivalent of an address on the Internet. The text for the name is called the URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. The URL for the ABC news organization is abc.com.
The name actually represents a number, or more correctly a series of numbers, roughly comparable to a telephone number. Like a telephone number, an Internet address is unique and no two are the same. And, like a telephone number, it serves to connect "callers" to one specific place on the Net.
There are advantages to using names instead of just the numbers alone. The most obvious is that people can more easily recognize and remember a meaningful word than a long string of numerals. The website abc.com is located at 126.96.36.199, which is the IP address for the site. That number is called an IP Address, meaning Internet Protocol address. Internet Protocol is a standard for network communications, which is used throughout Net.
Another, major advantage is that a domain can be moved to a new machine, where it will have a new number, but the name will remain the same. The DNS (Domain Name System) records are simply altered to reflect the change, and access to the domain continues unchanged.
An Internet domain may be the "home" for any number of things: web sites, mailboxes, files for downloading, even entire computer networks. You see domain names as part of practically every Internet address. In the e-mail address info @ US-Email-Service.com (a mailbox), the domain name is US-Email-Service.com. In the Web address http://www.yahoo.com (a web page), the domain name is Yahoo.com.
Occasionally, you will see the numeric address instead of the domain name. http://188.8.131.52/ is a perfectly serviceable address and it has the same function as http://US-Email-Service.com.
It is sometimes useful to match up a domain name with its IP Address, or vice-versa. This is commonly done with a utility called "dnslookup". There are many dnslookup "gateways" scattered around the Web.
Now we'll examine the name itself. Domain names have at least two parts, separated by a dot or period.
The part after the dot is called the Top Level Domain (TLD). The Top Level Domain serves to broadly categorize the name as to its type or purpose. Common TLDs include .com (commercial), .org (organization), .edu (educational institutions), .net (networks), .gov (U.S. government) and .mil (U.S. military).
Today, however, you can be a .net even if you are not a network. (MyCompany.net Sounds big and important, doesn't it?)
There are also hundreds of country TLDs, such as .us (USA), .fr (France), .de (Germany), etc. These are in more general use outside the US.
Additional "generic" TLDs (gTLDs) have been proposed and will probably come into general use by sometime in 1988. Domain names ending in .firm, .store, .web, .arts, .rec, .info, .nom and possibly many others will become widespread on the Net. All this is due to the exponential growth of the Internet and the continued quest for meaningful names.
Addresses ending in .com are by far the most common at present; they're generally intended to be commercial in nature, although at present the .com TLD actually serves as a catch-all for virtually all domain names that don't fit the other, more specific TLDs.
The part of the domain name before the dot is the Second Level Domain (SLD). If you're registering a name, you have considerable freedom of choice in what this will be. So long as the name you choose does not already exist under the same TLD, and is not obviously a famous trademark owned by someone else, its registration is generally allowed. An SLD can contain up to 24 characters: letters, numbers and dashes are allowed.
Databases of domain records are maintained by InterNIC, the primary name registry on the Internet in the US, and by a variety of similar agencies throughout the world. Accessed through a utility program called WHOIS, these databases are easily accessed from throughout the Net. There are a number of sites that permit you to look up DNS information, the most common of which is www.whois.net.
Incidentally, you may do well to remember that your own domain registration will become a publicly-available WHOIS record. For instance, perhaps you have a phone number or e-mail address you'd rather not share with literally the entire world... The company that registers your domain name will usually offer a means to keep your information private.
If you are thinking about getting a domain name of your own, use the link below and see if it is available for you. Or you can try different combinations. And when you find the right one, you can register it right away so your neighbor doesn't get "your" name! You can check out names you like at
About the Author: Richard Hill makes it easy to learn how to use an autoresponder, showing what they are and how to get the most out of them. Go to http://www.US-Email/Service.com/arcfn.htm to get your copy of the Free eBook "Autoresponder Cash Flow NOW!".