Do you really need a domain name?

Recently someone asked me “how do I get a domain name and who is the cheapest and best?”

 

Now, if I were a robot, I would provide them with the black and white, simple response “go to website x and register your domain name for $1”. However, since I’m a human and a professional in this business, I felt the needed to spend a bit more time and give them a clearer picture and wrote this article to share. I hope it helps anyone with a similar query. Feel free to add your comments below.

Here’s the thing; it’s rare that anyone needs to buy just a domain name. Here’s some questions about domain names and website hosting to consider before diving in too deep into something you don’t know a lot about.

Before buying a domain name (or web hosting) ask yourself these questions…

  • How to buy a domain nameDo I want a domain name because I want to have a website?
  • Or do I just want to reserve that domain name for later use? This is called domain “parking” which is legitimate if you are planning to use it down the track. Some people however try to profit by speculating that someone will want that domain at some point in the future and basically ‘squat’ on the domain hoping that they’ll be able to sell it for a profit one day. This is a poor strategy today as any decent domain name has been snapped up years ago which is why we are seeing startup companies coming out with ridiculous names like Shutl, Referly, Saya, Recurly, Drumbi and Hunie, because there are simply no ‘proper’ names left
  • If you do want a website as well, what type of website?
    • what is my geographic audience. Am I targeting Australia only, a specific country or the world? This will determine whether you should have a .com.au, .co.uk or a .com domain name. There are dozens of other types of domain name suffixes for nearly every country. But you need to pick the domain suffix that relates to your market because; lets say you want to market igloo blocks online, you really don’t need to market them in Australia (.COM.AU). You might instead go for a domain suffix for Antarctica (.AQ) or the US/global suffix of .COM
    • do you want a few basic pages only? (static website)
    • do you want to sell things online? (eCommerce/shopping cart site)
    • do you want a picture gallery for friends/family or business?
    • do you want to create a newsletter subscription service?
    • do you want people to login or signup for membership?
    • do people need to login to obtain a free download?
    • do you just want to add your voice and opinions to a blog?
  • If you want a website as well as a domain name, you need to host that website with a Hosting provider (where you pay for the online disk space on a monthly or yearly basis)
  • If you do want a website, how will you build it and what would be the best tool to use? Answering question 3 above will help to determine this
  • Do you have the skills to build, register, maintain and present the website? If not, you’ll need to seek out some professional help

Hey, I don’t need a domain name after all!

It may be that you really don’t need a domain name, website or hosting. So much has changed over the past few years, there are literally hundreds of quality free services such as Facebook, Blogger, Pinterest, WordPress and CafeMom that require no technical knowledge – and Joomla, Drupal and WordPress (self hosted) that require some basic configuration knowledge to setup. However, all of these are available at no cost (apart from hosting for the latter group) and in most cases you can add your own style and branding to customise your free site. So unless you have a real need (think: commercial reason) for a domain name – perhaps these sites will do the trick and save you a lot of time, money and stress.
If you just want to add your voice to the ever growing online community, it is highly likely – and advisable – that one of the above free services will be just right for you.

 

No, I still want a domain name and/or web hosting

If you really know what you want and are just looking for some hard cold facts about who is the cheapest and best for domain names and web hosting, here’s a brief idea of costings.

 

Domain names

  • Cheap domain names (beware!): some websites offer domain names for as little as $1. However, don’t be misled by these prices, they are usually for obscure domain suffixes that are virtually worthless or used domain names that may have an unsavoury past. Buying domain names that have expired and are re-released for registration is a very risky business and it is to be avoided in almost all circumstances. Be aware that domains like this may have been linked to websites that have been added to a blacklist for illegal activity, spamming or pornography etc so that they will never be listed by the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Buying one of these domains could be suicide for your venture
  • Registrar domain names: Reputable domain name registrars offer Australian domain names at prices starting from $12/year for .com.au or around $8 for a .com. These prices are self-service where you need to know how to setup email accounts, related services and be comfortable with administering the domain yourself
  • Reseller domain names: Other companies, usually non-registrars, offer the same domain registration as full registrars but they administer the domains without you having to worry about setting them up, it’s all taken care of by the reseller. However, always confirm that they do offer this service first. Prices for reputable Australian reseller domain registration starts from around $60/year. Metaweb Australia is a reseller of domain names and can help secure your domain name for you

Website hosting

There are literally thousands of web hosting companies in operation today and the glut of information can be overwhelming. In brief, web hosting can be obtained from as little as $10/month for a very small basic setup from reputable web hosting companies. Companies offering less than this amount may promise the world but fail to deliver basic website security and stability. Metaweb Australia is an Australian hosting provider of quality web hosting  platforms and can advise and assist in all levels of web hosting.

 

Need more help?

If you’re wanting a bit more than simple social interaction and don’t know where to start, you can always contact Metaweb for advice. Or if you know what you want, you can jump straight in and signup for a Metaweb web hosting plan where we can arrange your domain on sign up. Or simply post a comment on this page (below) and we’ll be glad to try and steer you in the right direction.

 

Finally, remember that the cheapest (or even the most expensive) option isn’t always the best. The “best” will be what suits your needs the best. Good luck with your venture!

 

Have something to add? Why not add your voice to the comments below?