Choosing the Right Domain Name:
all you need to know about domain names
(and some you don't need to know,
but is interesting anyway)
a Marketing Perspective
DOMAIN NAMES - WHAT'S THEIR HISTORY?
Every presence on the Internet is identified by a series of numbers (188.8.131.52, for example). This is called the Internet Protocol, or IP, address. To make these IP addresses easier to remember, the early proponents of the Internet decided to allocate a 'name' (or series of characters) to each IP number. Because no two sets of IP numbers are the same, no two domain names can be the same. As the Internet was developed in the USA, the Americans were first to set up an authority to allocate names to the IP numbers. Subsequently other countries set up their own authority.
DOMAIN NAMES IN PRACTICE
The first domain name to be registered was symbolics.com, assigned on March 15th 1985.
Domain names are, and always have been, allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. The majority of generic, one word domain names were registered in the early to mid 1990s. Many of these were registered by IT students who were amongst the first to use the Internet on a regular basis. It is the generic .com domains that many consider to be the best. It is also difficult to trademark a generic word, which means that generic domain names are the most valuable in the open market.
It is worth noting at this point that although a domain name is intangible, the person or entity that registers the name is legally the owner of that name. This situation is complex in that the owner of the name does not have total control over its use. Rather than calling them the owner, ICANN (see next section) uses the legal-sounding term 'rightful name holder'. To complicate the issue still further, the person who registers the name is not necessarily the owner. And herein lays a warning. Few businesses will register their domain name with the relevant naming authority, they will do so through a registrar - see section 1.06, how to register a domain name. When I registered the names that I own, I did so through a company that I trust. I trusted them to put me down as the owner, which they did, because I know how to check. Sadly I have come across a number of organizations that did not use such reliable registrars. Or, as is more often the case, they trusted their website developers to register the owner of the domain name as their client, not themselves.
The scenario is that A Trusting Business Ltd hires Dodgy Web Design Inc to develop a website, register a domain name and arrange the hosting of name and site. What Dodgy Web Design Inc does is register the domain name - atrustingbusiness.com - but lists themselves as the owners of the domain. To make matters worse, Dodgy Web Design pay for the hosting service in their name also. A few months down the road, A Trusting Business Ltd wants to make some changes to their website or becomes dissatisfied with Dodgy Web Design - and it is only then they discover that they have no access to their website or domain name. Although they might feel like sending a team of 'heavies' round to see their website developers, protracted legal action is probably the only recourse for A Trusting Business. And by this time A Trusting Business has had all of their stationery printed with the domain name (which they don't own) directing customers to their website (which they can't change). And it is also painted on the sides of their trucks and vans? Not the sort of situation you want to find yourself in.
DOMAIN NAMES IN PRACTICE :
from the history books
In the early days of the world wide web - and I'm only talking about the mid-1990s - surfers had to type in the http:// at the beginning of any URL. Contemporary users are now relieved of this chore as browsers now add the http:// as a default when www is entered before the domain name. Whilst in 'those were the days' mode, early versions of the Internet Explorer browser defaulted to the .com of any given word. So back around 1998 simply typing 'atrustingbusiness' (no www, no http://, no .com) into the browser window and hitting the 'enter' button took you to
Although this state of affairs didn't last too long, it served to cement the value of .com over other suffix options.
Contemporary browsers commonly need only the primary domain and suffix to be entered in order to deliver a web page (eg atrustingbusiness.com), though entering only the primary name (eg atrustingbusiness - no www, no http://) returns whichever website is sitting at the top of the browser's associated search engine results for that term.
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Copyright copyright 2009 Alan Charlesworth. All rights reserved.
International Standard Book Number: 978-1-4452-0538-0
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