Step 1: The first thing you need in order to get started with a website is a domain name. Domains are essentially website names. In order to register a domain name, you need to choose a domain registrar. If you don’t have one yet, no worries. Pick something that’s simple and straightforward.
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Choosing Awesome Domain Names
Can’t think of a good website name? Check out How to Choose an Awesome Domain Name to get a comprehensive approach to successfully naming your website.
The goal is to choose something that hints at what your website is about and something you can comfortably grow into.
One tip we recommend is to keep your domain name and hosting on separate providers. Don’t be tempted to get domain name packages that include hosting. This gives your website a higher uptime chance and it also allows you to stay nimble.
Available Domain Registrars
Domains start at $3.98/year in some places. We recommend not being frugal in this area. At a standard of $12/year for common TLDs, you really don’t need to waste time shopping around for the best price. It’s a better idea to shop around for a domain registrar for you.
If you use an untrusted registrar, be sure to check your domain occasionally, even if you don’t have hosting. You may be surprised what your domain redirects to!
Here’s what can happen if you leave your domain at an untrusted registrar. We have censored the screenshot to make it a little less shocking:
When one of our clients saw this, they immediately transferred out of this registrar. The moral of the story is don’t allow your domain to be auto-parked by an untrusted registrar and don’t always go for the cheapest domain special.
And just in case you were thinking it, no, they did not set it up this way and they were not hacked.
Recommendation: Google Domains
We use and recommend Google’s Domain Registrar Service. Google Domains is an interesting registrar option. The service was in beta for the longest time but worked out to be extremely streamlined.
Advantages include using Google’s infrastructure, simple domain management tools, and private registration for free, without private renewals. Furthermore, there are easy account transfers and DNSSEC configuration.
Domains start at $12/year.
Another registrar that deserves a nod is GoDaddy. We had used them early on in the beginning. We also maintain an account with them to easily connect to clients via delegated account access.