If you wish to set up a site, this implies that you need a domain name. A domain is an easy-to-remember name that you write in your browser's URL bar when you wish to access a particular web page.
Why Do You Need a Domain?
This is a topic I broach because of the fact that a week ago my boss brought forth the idea of establishing a website for our new venture. That itself is not an issue, the issue is that he wants a website, but has not made a decision yet about what it should look like, what it should encompass, etc. All that he told me was the name of the site - its domain name. Thus, we now have a web address for a future site and nothing else.
Each web site is located on a physical server. That physical server has its own personal physical address, known also as an Internet Protocol address. Paying a visit to a website by typing the IP of the machine in your browser, though, is not the best and most appropriate thing to do, so that was how and why domains appeared. Thus, a domain corresponds to an IP address on the World Wide Web. After it has been registered, of course.
Registering a Domain
To register a domain name, you first need to settle on a domain name registration provider. FreeHostia.com offers the best solution for my current and prospective projects - they provide a Domain Manager plan, which can be effortlessly upgraded to a hosting package at a later time - when my boss eventually determines what function the site will serve.
Hence, to register a domain, you need to select a name for your website. Next, you have to pick a top-level domain name - this is what follows the dot. For instance, in 'skype.com', '.com' is the Top-Level Domain (TLD). Apparently, '.com' is short for 'company', '.net' is short for 'network', '.org' is short for 'organization', etc.
Once you've selected your domain name and your future domain name registrar, you have to ascertain whether the domain name you wish to register is free, because somebody else might have registered it before you, no matter how embarrassing this might be. Each domain name registration company, including FreeHostia.com, has a search functionality at their sign-up page, which checks the availability of a particular domain. To go ahead with the registration of a domain name, you need to fill in certain registrant info - the personal name, the physical address, the e-mail address and the phone number of the registrant of the domain.
You've Registered a Domain... Now What?
I registered .com, .net, .eu and .biz domains for our venture, according to the request of my still-unsure-about-the-purpose-of-the-future-website boss. I tried out the domain administration interface FreeHostia.com is offering and found it very intuitive - everything is logically structured and, from what I noticed in the hosting Control Panel demo at their site, after we upgrade to a VPS web hosting package, it will stay the same, just with many more features. This, thank God, will save me quite a lot of discomfort from having to administer my domain name and web site hosting user account separately. So, while waiting for the boss to make a decision about at least what the web site should include, I was pleased to discover that the domain administration tool offers DNS administration and domain renewal options, and - an extremely useful feature (!) - a parked domain template, which I used in order to create a "Coming Soon" page for our domains.
Country-Specific Top-Level Domain Names
I was quite glad to see that FreeHostia.com is offering lots of country-specific Top-Level Domains, as the project the website is aimed for is international. Country-specific Top-Level Domains are handed over to domestic registries, which allow domain registration vendors to register domains, typically at rates that are cheaper than those offered to the end clients. There are different country-code domain names: .co.uk for the UK, .es for Spain, .se for Sweden, .us for the United States of America, .ca for Canada, .com.au for Australia, and so on. This, I am confident, will please my boss because we will be able to prepare a local version of the web site for each country where the project will be introduced.