How to select a domain name for your company
What should we name our domain? That's one of the first questions asked by anyone establishing a presence on the Internet.
Obviously, if "yourcompanyname.com" is available, that's the one you want.
After all, you've probably thought long and hard about what to name your company, so that should carry over into cyberspace.
Unfortunately, at last count, there are more than 80 million domain names in use, with more than 60 million of them ending in "dot com." So there's a pretty good chance that your domain name of choice is already taken.
What to do?
First of all, find out if your preferred domain name is available. Go to the Web site of one of the "registrants," which are organizations that are responsible for managing the assignment of domain names. Some of the more popular registrants include networksolutions.com (the granddaddy of them all), register.com, godaddy.com, or even Yahoo or Google. A complete list of registrants can be found here: http://www.internic.net/alpha.html
Registrants will tell you if your domain name is available. If it is, the registrant will provide you with detailed instructions on how to secure it and provide information on other services that the registrant can provide.
We recommend shopping around the more popular registrants to get a good idea of what services are available and what kind of fees you'll pay. Simple registration and set up of a Web site and e-mail is not that expensive, probably less than $100 initially.
If your domain name is not available, the better registrants provide a "whois" feature that will tell you who owns it. You might consider contacting the owner and seeing if they would consider selling the name and at what cost. We haven't had much luck with this method, for a variety of reasons, most often being cost.
A good registrant will also provide you with alternative domain names to consider. It seems though, that these are usually automatically generated by a computer system without a personality.
Most will also recommend different suffixes for your domain name. For example, use yourcompanyname.net (usually for technology-oriented organizations) or yourcompany-name.org (usually for not-for-profit organizations).
We'd recommend avoiding uncommon suffixes, like .tv, .biz, .cc and the like. It's too confusing for many folks, and the last thing you want is confusion in your domain name.
If you can't find a suitable name using .com, .net, or .org, you're not trying hard enough. Don't get too clever though -- a confusing domain name is more trouble than it's worth.
One last word of advice: Don't register a domain name and then let it expire if you ever want to use it again. Many times, nefarious name resellers monitor expiration lists and sign up such domains so that they can resell it back to you (or your competition) at a later date and a much greater cost than the renewal fee. After all, if it was good enough for you once, it may still have value.
is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail email@example.com