Knowledgebase: Pre-Sales Questions
What is a domain name?
Posted by Adrian Grant on 27 January 2009 09:20 PM

If you want to establish a presence on the internet your domain name is one of the most important choices you will need to make. It is the name your customers will communicate with you through, and it is the address by which they will visit your website and interact with your business.

But what exactly is a domain name? How should you choose a domain name, and what do you need to know before you register?


Domain Names Explained:

Consider that every house in the world has a unique address. No other house in the world has the same address. The same can be applied to domain names. All domain names are unique. A domain name is made up of several parts. Look at the domain name below:

The name is made up of four parts:

www Stands for World Wide Web. This is largely obsolete now, but many people still use it.
openhost The registered name. Typically the company, product, or service name.
co The type of name. In this case "co" is short for commercial.
nz The country the name is registered in.

NB: Many registries around the world do not include the type of name, instead opting for just the country code.

Benefits of a Domain:

A domain name gives people a short and memorable address for your website and email. Your choice of address also reflects a level of professionalism and understanding of online business, which is often traded for lower internet costs.

You may see a lot of small businesses who advertise the email address their internet provider has given them. Compare the difference between "" with "" and you'll easily see the difference.

Choosing a Domain:

When choosing your domain, keep in mind that people need to remember it, so keep it short and memorable. Try to register the shortest name that your customers and visitors will associate with your site.

There are many different extensions available and it is always a good idea to register a few variations. Always try and register a ".com", ".net" or ".org", as well as a ".nz".

Also, since it is one of the oldest extensions, ".com" shows that your business has been around for a while and that you have a well-established presence on the web.

Ask people you know their opinion on your domain choices. Ask questions like:

  • Is the name easy to remember?
  • Is it easy to spell?
  • Does it roll off the tongue?
  • Does the name require explaining?

A good Domain should be as short as possible, as well as easily identifiable with your business name, or descriptive of your product or service.

If the name you want is already registered try variations including numbers and hyphens if possible.

Characters Allowed:

  • Domain names can only use letters, numbers and hyphens. You cannot use spaces or other symbols.
  • Domain names are not case sensitive.

Types of Domain:

There are many types of Domain you can register. Popular suffixes include:

New Zealand Domains: Commercial enterprises Network systems Non-profit organisations. For general use, but very uncommon. Tertiary and other academic institutions. Primary and secondary schools. Government departments and organisations. A fun Domain name for computer geeks. The world's first cultural Domain. Maori tribes Military organisations

Global Domains:

.com Commercial enterprises
.net Network systems
.org Non-profit organisations
.biz Commercial enterprises
.info Information sites

Checking Availability:

Records of all domain names registered are available through each country's national registry. The information generally includes Registrant, Administrator, Technical Contact, and nameserver information as well as record creation, update and expiration dates. This information is available through many publicly accessible interfaces.

Domain Disputes:

If someone has registered a name that infringes your registered name or trademark you may be entitled to it. In this case you should seek the advice of a legal office.

You may or may not be entitled to a name if someone else has registered it. If for example, someone from your own country has registered a name that infringes your trademark or registered name it is likely you'll be able to take ownership of the name. However, if say you have a New Zealand company called "Joe Trader", and a person in the US registers "" you are unlikely to be entitled to it.

In the case where your chosen name is not available it is best to try variations on the name you wish to register, or try another word completely. Alternatively you can try registering with a different extension.



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