When I was first introduced to the web I heard the phrase “domain name” thrown around a lot about websites. But what exactly is a domain name? How do I register one, and what do I do once I buy one? I will attempt to answer all these questions as concisely as possible in the remainder of this post.
What is a domain?
Simply put, a domain name is an address to your website. It is the address a user types into a search bar on a web browser to get to your website. Additionally, every website has an IP address. The domain name is the plain text address for your IP address. If you’ve ever played Xbox or PlayStation online you may be familiar with a number that looks like this:
An IP address is the back-end version of the domain name. For example:
www.flatironschool.com is the domain name but
65.553.16.1 might be the IP address
Since it is much easier for people to read the former, our browsers accept and assign domain names to IP addresses. To make a website, you send an HTTP request to a DNS, a Domain Name System, a bunch of servers. This looks up the correct IP address and points your computer in the right direction.
How to Buy a Domain Name
Unfortunately, creating a website isn’t free. To make one, you’ll have to buy the domain name online, or “register” it. There are usually periods you can do this for, one year, two years, etc. There are dozens of websites where you can purchase domain names and get ready to establish your website. First, you should check out if the domain is available, in other words, if someone else has already bought this domain name. A popular website called namechk.com is a great way to do this.
Namechk.com also shows you whether certain social media accounts exist with that same name. This is very useful if you wish to exist on multiple platforms with the same name, a highly recommended practice for establishing a web presence.
Popular websites to purchase a domain name include GoDaddy.com, Namecheap, or SquareSpace. Rates will vary depending on what package you get. You can pay extra for things like privacy, security, and creating an email to match your domain.
Web Hosting your Domain
If registering a domain name is setting an address, then web hosting allows you to establish your website and make it visible online. Web hosting is where you rent space on the internet to keep your website data. This is the server where the data is stored. Web hosting companies sometimes provide design, support, and security.
Once you have your domain…
Though it might seem obvious, the next step is to build the website! You can use programs like Wordpress, or built-in programs like GoCentral Website Builder on GoDaddy.com. If you’re a software developer or know a little about coding you can even create your websites using your newly registered domain name!
To delve into Wordpress a little, it is a content management system that PHP and MySQL database. Instead of building in design using Cascading Style Sheets, it comes with themes that can be applied to work with any data you enter. Here is the Wordpress website theme’s page:
Throughout our course at FlatIron academy, my cohort and I have done a lot of work in both front-end and back-end web development. I believe it is important to know that one of the destinations for all of this work is an actual working website with an address online. This can be used to show your friends and family, advertise for your business, or as a portfolio to demonstrate your technical skills for applying to jobs. No matter the purpose, understanding domain names and how to get your website up and running is vital to the programming experience.