Choosing a Domain Name

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Domain names are essential components of URLs (Universal Resource Locator) which constitues the exact address of a website on the Internet. [See Topic: Why a Domain Name?]

Domain names in URIs are used by all web browsers to locate and retreive data from your website in the Internet to another computer or another browsing device. We mentioned another browsing device since nowadays, any and all digital devices (mobile or therwise) connected to the internet will have access to your website. And that audience is extremely huge if not everyone else!

The right choice and use of a domain name as a “website address” is therefore essential to the success of fullfilling the purpose for which the site is intended. Since it is like an address loosely speaking, domain names must be unique names with respect to all other domain names. As such, it can only point to a single and specific website. Unlike people's name, no duplication is permissible. No two domain names can exactly be the same. When a name has been registered, it may not be used by another website unless the registration has expired and left un-renewed or explicitly trasferred by its current registrant to another.

Domain names can consist of any combination ASCII letters, numerals, and/or an underscore or hyphen and nothing else. ASCII means the American Standard Code for Information Interchange and loosely refers to the English alphabet and Hindu-Arabic Numerals. The theoritical maximum character length of a domain name and/or a URI is at most 255 characters. In practice, domain names are much shorter since a domain name is also an integral part of URIs and URIs theoritical maximum length is set at 255 characters.

The choice of a name is really inmaterial with respect to the Internet as long as it complies with the above rules. You may have a domain name like dfghjkl.com which does not make semantic sense but it is a valid domain name. Nonetheless, common sense will tell us that dfghjkl.com is not a sensible name unless you prefer to be eccentric.

Depending on your purpose and for whatever reason, there are no good or bad domain names; only appropriate names. Generally, the objective of a typical website will be to generate the highest possible volume site visitors over a given time. When given a choice to select for a domain name the following suggestions can help:

  • A representative name identified uniquely to your person, family, business, organization, and/or purpose.
  • Shorter names are preferred for easier domain recall.
  • Names with impact can also leave an indelible impression.
  • Avoid using similar names that may look or sound like an already existing name unless you really have to.