One of the BIGGEST mistakes people make in a website, is not registering the domain name and the hosting in their name. The domain name is the address for your site, for example, YellowWebMonkey.com. The hosting is the server space where the website files are kept, kind of like your rental space on the web.
If a webpage developer tells you not to worry about it, they will register it through their company, then RUN! Here is a good metaphor. Think of it like someone coming to bid on a job to repair your vehicle. And they tell you "No Problem!! Just sign over the pink slip for the car over to me and I will get started." When someone is building a webpage for you, give the username/password, much like you would had a valet the keys. But that way if they default, you have legal recourse to call your hosting company and have it reset for you.
Here are some tips for getting a domain name:
- Stick with a ".com" or ".org" Having odd extensions like ".net", ".biz", or ".us" can hurt your search engine ranking. Plus people naturally assume ".com" so you will just be get the guy that has the ".com" more traffic.
- Be Memorable and Short. A good example would be that "The Spa at Canyon Oaks" in Crawford is just "wacospa.com"
- People CANNOT Spell. If you are a licensed entomologist, I suggest you stick with pest control or something with bugs.
- Be careful of acroynms. An example is "The Advocacy Center of Central Texas" which is advocacycntr.org. If you say that aloud, people will think "center" or "ctr" before they type in "cntr"
- Especially don't use acronyms that make words! If you are in the "Heart of Texas," PLEASE do not put HOT in your domain name. Trust me, you will end up in search results you do not want to be in.
Tips for getting hosting:
- Stick with the bigger companies unless you are getting personal attention from someone local. Many businesses are just resellers of the big companies, so you will just pay more. That is okay if that local person is going to manage the account and provide tech support, but make sure that is part of the agreement.
- If you are just getting the hosting, you should not pay more than $10/month. Some companies that provide good plans are iPower Hosting,GoDaddy, Host Gator, and Rochen.
- You do NOT need all the add-ons they try to sell you. You can always add those on after the fact if you change your mind. The only one I would suggest is domain privacy if you are using your home address to register the name.
- Just sign up for one year. Although you get a discount for multi-year plans, start with one year and see how the customer service is and how your website performance is. I can't prove it, but I think you get better service when they know you are not locked in for five years regardless of how they treat you.
- Buyer Beware! Some companies I would recommend AGAINST are 1&1 Hosting, AISO.net, FatCow hosting, and Network Solutions.
You can find this article and more in our "Websites 101: What To Know Before Hiring a Web Designer" section.