What's in a domain name?
Stop anyone in the street and ask them what a domain name is and, once you’ve overcome the awkward exchange that usually follows when you accost a stranger in the street, they will most likely tell you it’s the url that identifies your website. In fact, your domain name is much more than that. It’s the signpost for any traffic, web or email, that’s looking for your servers and, for the sake of your business, it’s essential that it points that traffic in the right direction.
Most business owners know their way around domain registration these days. There are numerous vendors online who make it very easy for you to look up and buy a domain for your business and the cost is pleasingly low. But if you want your domain to really work for your business, you need to think carefully about the domain name you choose (for reasons I’ll go into later) and you need to look after it properly.
A domain name is for life…
Let’s compare buying a domain name to buying a puppy. No really, bear with me on this. That first flush of excitement when you find one you like and make it yours can be intoxicating. But then come the questions: who’s going to feed it, walk it, wash it, take it to the vet? Will you still love it three years from now?
With domain names the big question is hosting. Most domain name vendors also offer hosting packages but hold back from jumping in. Hosting is a requirement for both your website and your email but hosting both in the same place, convenient though it sounds, is not necessarily in your best interests.
We recommend hosting your website and email separately for one very convincing reason.
Office 365 email hosting is the best
We advise all our clients to host their email with Office 365 because the level of service is unsurpassed. Key attributes include:
Reliability of service
All accounts are Exchange, which synchronises all your emails, contacts, calendars and tasks and is much more versatile than Pop or IMAP.
Mailboxes are massive, so you won’t suffer service interruptions due to a full mailbox
Easy to set up and manage centrally
More secure than older types of email
Highly configurable – create groups, share calendars and manage out of office responders
Cost – from £3/month per email account
Why not host your website with Office 365?
Simple answer? Because you can’t. It’s not offered with Office 365 but there are plenty of web hosting options out there, including web design platforms like Wix and SquareSpace, which offer hosting as an additional service. Choose carefully and seek advice from your web designer. Make sure the hosting company you choose has a good track record and offers a back-up system and support.
A lot of web designers provide hosting as an auxiliary service. This has the benefit of a closer relationship with your host, who will have a strong interest in making sure your hosting is well maintained and supported.
The technical bit
I mentioned that your domain name is a signpost and that it’s essential that it points to the right place. This is where it all gets technical and it’s a realm where most web designers fear to tread.
Whether you’re starting a website for the first time or you want to move an existing site to a new host, you will need to configure your DNS settings. See what I mean? Technical. And it’s daunting because the consequences of getting it wrong can be drastic. A few days worth of misdirected emails or a website that can’t be seen could cost your business dear.
At TipTop, we manage domain registrations and DNS configuration as a standalone service and include these services within our support contracts. We will monitor and manage renewals (crucial if you don’t want to lose your domain name after a couple of years), administer changes in DNS settings and quickly fix any issues that arise. So talk to us as soon as you know you want to buy a new domain or change the hosting for your current one.
Those tips for choosing a domain name
You can have a lot of fun with domain names but take care or you might end up with a domain name you regret. In particular, consider the following:
Length – if your company name is Callaghan’s Comedy Comestible, try to come up with a shorter version for your domain name. After a couple of days of spelling that out and typing derek@callaghanscomedycomestibles every time you’re asked to enter your email address, you and your staff will cease to see the funny side.
Suffixes – if you can get hold of the .co.uk and .com versions of your chosen domain name, it may be worth it if only to prevent anyone else muscling in on your web space with a very similar url. For the same reason you could go further and buy up all the available suffixes (.uk, .net, .biz etc), but those two are the ones UK customers are most likely to search for.
Embarrassments – you’ve probably seen them: the likes of machome.com (Mac Home) and powergenitalia (PowerGen Italia), perfectly innocent business names that assume a whole new meaning when you run them together. Take a moment to write yours out and make sure you’re not setting your business up for ridicule.