As professional developers and website specialists we often forget that terms like hosting and domain registration don’t mean a great deal to a lot of people. So, here is a quick beginners guide to domains.

What exactly are domains?

Your domain is also known as your url (Unique Resource Locator) and is the address used to find your website and email. So, for example, our domain at Crush Design is crush-design.co.uk.

In order to secure a domain it needs to be registered with a central body, this is Nominet https://www.nominet.uk/ in the UK. These are also the people to resolve disputes over domain ownership.

However, Nominet do not deal with you the customer directly. They are a non-for-profit governing body, so you need a middleman to handle the transaction. This is where the registrars, companies such as 123Reg, 1&1, and GoDaddy get involved. They act as the middle / money man providing the service to allow you to register the domain you want, and then manage it.

Typically, the cost of registering a .co.uk domain should be no more than £8 per year (and .com no more than £15 per year), and no company can register a domain better than another so this is really a fixed price .

It is true that companies can pay a lot more for a domain, mainly when a word is popular, but this is NOT the registration cost you are paying, this is the cost to buy the name from another third party.

Fun fact: insurance.com sold for $35.6 million (yet it still only cost about £15 to register – not a bad profit!)

Where we have found that clients get confused often stems from the fact that these domain registration companies try and sell you more, packaging up services such as website hosting.  It is worth noting that there are no advantages to buying hosting from the same company that sells you your domain.

.co.uk or .com?

Choosing which domain is simply down to common sense.

If you are solely a UK based company then .co.uk is the obvious choice because it is the most familiar to your customers. Though you may want to buy the .com if it is available to make sure there is no confusion should another company buy that domain and start a website.

The .org or .org.uk domains are for non-for-profit organisations and charities.

Then there are country specific domains eg. .de (Germany), .fr (France) and .com.au (Australia)

And finally, a wide range of new domains have been released which are great but less familiar so people may not guess / remember your domain (eg. .bar, .global, .business, .salon, etc)

How domains link to hosting and email

There is some confusion here, usually around ‘what do I need to pay for?’ which I will try to clear up.

  • You need to buy a domain at around £8 per year, as mentioned previously.
  • If you want a website that loads from your domain you will need the website hosting, and this can range from £80 per year to £1,000s (see following article on ‘how to buy hosting’). Often the registrars (eg. 123reg and 1&1) will try and sell a package, but they are separate things.
  • If you want an email with that domain you will need to set up a separate email service first.

Linking domains to websites

Each domain holds / stores a bunch of instructions which tells the traffic what to do, and these are called the domains DNS details.

In simple terms, someone just needs to add the instructions on how to direct traffic to find your website. This is done by knowing and adding the IP address to the A-records.

I fear I may have lost you here….!

Crush Design’s domain management service

Crush Designs offers a domain management service:

  • We buy the domain on your behalf, in your name.
  • We then charge an additional ten pounds per year per domain to update the domain when required and automatically renew domain when required (so you don’t lose it).
  • We will remember your login details and password!

We can help with domain retrieval if access to the domain has been lost or is in dispute, though this needs pricing separately.

We also provide quality website hosting solutions which will be covered in a next blog. Watch this space!