So, you want a website (part 2)…

Your new website has a purpose. Now it needs a name, specifically a domain name, which is a unique address for you site.

For example, the address for Wikipedia’s English-language site is

  • Domain name: This is the part that they registered and paid for.
  • Subdomain: They’ve added “en.” to the start of the domain name. It’s how they distinguish different language specific wikipedias. Other sites use “www.” instead. There’s no technical difference.

Wikipedia’s site is registered as a .org. This website is a .net. The CBC’s website is a .ca. Google’s main website is a .com. Those (.org, .ca, .net, .etc) are called top-level-domains (TLD). Each country has its own TLD. Canada’s is .ca, the UK has .uk.

Countries have specific rules about who can register with their TLD. Canadian domains (.ca) are regulated by the Canadian Internet Registry Authority, and CIRA only gives .ca names to people or organizations who meet the Canadian Presence Requirements. Their policy states that any Canadian citizen (even one living abroad) can register a .ca domain.

The big three TLDs (.com, .net, and .org) are very open. Anyone can register .com, .net, and .org names.

Once you’ve decided which TLD you want to use, you need to find a domain name that’s available. The best domain names are short, easy to remember, and are relevant to your website’s purpose (remember that?).

There are a bunch of tools on the internet to look up domain names, and see if they are available.

For .com, .org, and .net domains use Internic’s WHOIS service and type in a domain name (try for an example of one that’s already taken). For .ca domains, CIRA provides a different tool, but it works in the same way.

Don’t buy a domain name yet, just make sure it is available.

Once you’ve found a domain name, you’re ready for the next step: hosting (part 3).

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