If you are brand new to the idea of your own website but have a good amount of doing it yourself initiative, then this guide is for you.
I’m going to start at the very beginning to avoid any chance of you not understanding something. If there is anything I have missed let me know in the comments below.
If you are already familiar with what a domain name is and have one in mind feel free to jump ahead to the domain registrar comparison. I’ve put together the best options for you to choose from.
What is a Domain?
If you look to the top of your screen and find the bit that starts with the “https://” in what’s known as the address bar. What we find in the address bar is the URL, at the moment that should be:
If we strip everything back outside the slashes / we find the domain name i.e. lorcan.design. Every domain has a unique name that was registered by its owner. They all include both a top-level domain and a second level domain.
To the left of the dot is the second level domain, which might be your name, the name of your business, blog, or store. It’s the “identity” of your site. In my case, the second level domain is “Lorcan”.
To the right of the dot is the top-level domain (or TLD), in this case, the TLD is “.design”, but you may have more commonly seen TLDs like .com, or .co.uk.
The exciting thing about domains is that you can choose almost any name you want as your domain, at least if it’s not already taken.
Depending on your business .com can be a safe bet. If it suits your business or brand a top-level domain like .blog or .store could set you apart from competitors.
What is the Purpose of a Domain?
It tells people where to find you in the online world. If you have a website it needs an address. That address has to have a name, otherwise, how would people know where to go? But there are other good reasons to register a domain too.
Registering a domain reserves it so no one else can register it. So things like your name, company name, or other things you might be considering, like writing a book, starting a band, or hobby. That way you avoid the disappointment of missing out on it.
Check your name here:
How to choose a domain name?
Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing a company name — it requires a lot of thought and consideration.
Your domain name is your identity on the web; you want to make sure you choose a name that not only fits your business but is also easy to find and promote.
Check out my top tips for choosing a domain name.
How much does a domain cost?
Well, currently Ionos are giving away a domain free of charge for a limited time. Bluehost are doing the same, but if you take out a hosting package.
Initially acquiring a domain can be very economical however bare in mind the cost at renewal is usually significantly more (see comparisons below).
Who should I register my domain with?
There is a lot to consider and a lot of planning required, as is often the case as you develop your business.
Here you will only find the all-around best of domain registrars, measured by support, ease of use and cost in my experience.
Some are WordPress specialists (a bit like myself), others offer multiple options i.e. you can upload a website built from scratch via FTP.
If your looking for a particular registrar then tap their name here:
Bluehost is not a newcomer to the hosting game having been founded in 2003. It has grown to dominate the market managing over 2 million domains. It has a really good uptime record of 99.9% as we can see on Pingdom and is a recommended provider by WordPress.
It boasts really good customer service with in-house experts available 24/7. Once you purchase your ideal domain, you can manage your site through a very beginner friendly interface.
On top of web hosting and a free domain name, you’ll also receive a free SSL (click here for offer). Once you’ve purchased your package with BlueHost, you’ll have everything you need to get your website live in a matter of hours.
Siteground is great and really known for hosting but they do also register domains. It’s just all the way down in the footer as they focus on promoting their hosting services more.
They are definitely worth mentioning in this review of registrars however as it is often easier for someone starting out to bundle the domain and hosting together with the one provider.
While it may not be as budget-friendly as Bluehost, it’s extremely affordable packages are packed with benefits, just take a look.
I love Dreamhost’s features and benefits but realize that beginners or hobbyist developers might not have the budget to spend on the performance, optimization, and managed services that DreamHost offers. But it is definitely worth it.
If, however, your site is growing and gathering more and more traffic, few registrars can take care of you as well as DreamHost. Managed services include infrastructure management, automatic backups and updates, malware scans, and DDoS protection.
As another of WordPress’s recommended providers, it is worth noting that they offer a domain free with a hosting package. If you want a domain, host and one-click WordPress install this is the registrar for you.
In my experience, I really have been pleasantly surprised by 1&1 or IONOS as they like to be called nowadays. If you hurry, they are currently offering a select number of 100% free domains.
When they aren’t free they are affordable, even after a year, a .co.uk at £9.99 for another year is nothing. They boast a very user-friendly dashboard for managing all aspects of your new domain.
You have a variety of options when deploying your domain that are made really easy to find. They are definitely a good option but the question is can it ever be as good as the WordPress specialist registrars.
Scala hosting is a super economy, budget hosting solution that is what I usually recommend to anyone on a tight budget. Unfortunately, their domain offering is not quite as immediately appealing as other registrars, with the only offer of a free domain is if you pay for 6 months hosting up front.
Taking a .co.uk, for example, is $7.98 or around £6 per year including at renewal, I like that consistent price model compared to other ways of discounting.
Fortunately for us, they are currently selling 3 months hosting for $1 or £0.76 to us here in the UK. Their cheapest option is currently $3.95 or £3 a month so it works out $12.85, so six months hosting and a free domain all for £9.76 available here.
123-reg is headquartered in England and is a domain registrar and web hosting company who started out in 2000. The company claims to be the UK’s largest accredited domain registrar that provides Internet services to small- and medium-sized business.
They also promote packages for all your web needs: personal or business hosting, web design, e-commerce, virtual or dedicated servers, SSL certificates, SEO, marketing and more.
Like other registrars on this list, the real deal is often found by combining the domain and hosting offers. Take the unlimited plan for example at £8.99 per month for the first year. There’s unlimited web space, bandwidth, databases and 5GB mailboxes, SSL is finally included, and you get three domains thrown in.
Celebrating 20 years, dotFM was the first provider of the .am and .fm domains. It has continued to grow strongly since and boast a number of successful subsidiaries. But why go to them when we can go to the source.
If you are considering getting into podcasting or want to run an online radio station, this is the perfect domain registrar.
They only act as registrar though so remember to check out their live prices, but also check out hosting providers and include both to give you an accurate budget.