There are a lot of decisions to make when you are building a website.
Which platform will you choose, what will the layout look like, which web developer will you work with, what kind of budget will you assign to the project… the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, one of the most important decisions is often one of the last things people think about.
That is, registering your domain name.
This is a key decision as whoever owns your domain has control over your website.
So, read on to find out more about protecting this important business asset.
What Is A Domain Name?
When you are ready to get your business online, you will start to see a lot of terms being thrown around. Things like website, URL, domain name, registrar, hosting, and platform all start to pop up.
Yes, they are all website related, but all have different meanings.
The website is the end result and a culmination of all the other terms put together. But, what do all the other terms mean?
This is quite literally the name of your website. It is the part that comes after the www. in your web address. For example, my domain name is ‘creativewebdesigns.co.nz’ and Google’s is ‘google.com’. Before you can create a website, you need to purchase a domain name.
While the domain name is part of your web address, it is not the same as a URL. A URL is the complete web address assigned to a particular page on your website. Each page on your site will have a unique URL such as ‘creativewebdesigns.co.nz/blog’ or ‘creativewebdesigns.co.nz/about’.
Buying a domain name does not mean you have a website. As Google put it, “a domain is the name of a website, a URL is how to find a website and a website is what people see and interact with when they get there.” Buying the domain means you have obtained the name for your site, but the website will still need to be built.
This is the company that sells the domain names. You can search for available domain names through their systems and purchase the one you want from them. This gives you ownership of the domain and the relevant records for the term specified, usually a year.
A website also requires hosting. This is usually charged as a monthly or annual fee. Hosting providers allocate space on their servers for all the files of a website to be stored. Every website is hosted on some kind of a web server. If you choose a Shopify website, then Shopify will host your site through their servers.
Domain names are an easy way for humans to identify a website as they are recognisable words. But a computer speaks in code, not in words. So, each domain name needs to have a corresponding ‘code’ for a computer to understand the search query. This code appears as a series of numbers and is known as an IP address. The DNS system translates domain names into IP addresses and points your computer in the direction of the correct website. Your domain name and matching IP address are called your DNS Record.
Should I Register My Domain Name Through Shopify?
Now we know that we need to have a domain name in order to build a website. So, what is the best way to obtain one?
There are several options for registering your domain name. You can go directly to a domain registrar, or you can choose to register through your web host (ie. Shopify).
People often ask me if they should register their domain through Shopify. While it does seem like the simpler option, I would recommend that you purchase your domain name directly from a registrar.
This is for a couple of reasons. The first being that it is dangerous to have all your eggs in one basket. Shopify is already hosting your website, so it is a good idea to keep your domain name separate. Then, if you decide to move away from Shopify or they encounter a problem, your domain is not going to be impacted.
Also, if you choose an independent registrar, you personally have full access to your DNS records. It means you have total control over your domain and 100% own the information.
It is simple to connect a domain bought from a registrar like GoDaddy. All you need is your login credentials, and the name servers can be pointed to your Shopify website.
What About My Email?
To present a professional front for your business, it is helpful to have your email address match your domain name. That means rather than having an email address like ‘email@example.com’, your email address would be ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ instead.
By having both your email and domain matching, it builds credibility for your business, shows you are committed to a strong brand name, and proves your business can be trusted. Gmail addresses can look spammy and may mean people delete your message without opening it!
But, when it comes from a trusted domain, people recognise your business as they are already familiar with it.
So, how do you do it?
You can either set up an email address through your domain provider, or use Gmail for Business to do the same thing.
Your domain name is a vital business asset. To ensure you have full control over it, it is recommended to buy your direct from a reputable registrar so that you are the one that accesses the information.
If you aren’t sure how to undertake this process or you want to link an existing domain name to a Shopify website, then reach out to Creative Web Designs today.