WordPress Usage (by itself)
The domain name identifies your website to users. LightSpeedSites domain name is
lightspeedsites.com. The domain name shouldn’t be confused with the URL — domain names are a part of URLs.
To further our understanding, let’s analyze a URL that has all components and see what’s what.
This URL has five distinct parts:
http://is the protocol that tells browsers how to retrieve data. Some well-known ones are
blog.is a subdomain that allows you to segment your website into different bits and pieces. You could use
mywebsite.com/blog/as well; it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
mywebsite.comis the domain name. The
www(which comes before the subdomain, if any) is optional; you’ll need to decide on that. For the most part, it’s a matter of preference, but it can have an impact on large websites. The end of the domain name (in this case,
.com) is called a top-level domain (TLD). Others are
.org, country-specific ones such as
.meand brand new ones like
80is the port number used to gain access to the resource on the server. This is
80for HTTP and
443for HTTPS, by default, which is why you can omit it in URLs. Ports are most often seen in local development environments.
/post/awesomeness.phpis the path to the resource on the server. In this case, there may well be a folder named
articlesand a file named
awesomeness.php, but the path doesn’t necessarily point to an actual file on the server. More often than not, the server and/or the code will figure out what you need based on the URL, rather than the URL linking to an actual file.
?edit=false&view=trueare parameters — two of them, actually. The first key-value parameter is preceded by a question mark; all subsequent pairs are preceded by ampersands. The server-side code picks up on these values, and the values can be used to modify views or save data, for example.
#comment-5is an anchor that can be used to take the user to a specific place on the page right away. If you visit the link above, you will be taken lower down on the page to a specific comment.
If you don’t understand all of that, don’t worry about it; a lot of this isn’t relevant in everyday use. The only part you’ll need to focus on is the domain name because this is how users will refer to your website.
Choosing a domain name might be difficult, especially considering that the top tips for domains always include keeping it short and easy to type. If you already have a brand consisting of proper English words — like “Vintage Shoes” — then the domain name will probably already be taken.
You can find all sorts of tips on choosing a domain name, but it almost always boils down to keeping it short and memorable. This is definitely good advice, but always have a brand strategy in mind as well.
Smashing Magazine has a long-ish domain name, yet it is unlikely that much traffic is lost due to this — or that more could be gained by switching to
smashingmag.com. Branding is, ultimately, the most important factor. A short and sweet domain name is great, but in the end, what you do with it is what counts.
One last note of caution: Make sure not to infringe on any copyrights with your domain name. Nolo has a good read on avoiding trademark infringement when choosing a domain.
Most of the places where you can buy a domain name also allow you to grab hosting. As a rule of thumb for security, keep your domain and hosting separate.
I have to confess that I don’t always do that, for convenience’s sake, but the rationale is this: If someone can get into your hosting account, then they can steal files and data. If your domain is registered in the same place, then they could potentially transfer the domain away, leaving you with nothing.
If this is your first project, I suggest buying a domain name with the hosting provider you’ll be using (see further below for hosting tips). It will make the process easier, and you can always transfer the domain to another company if needed.
Most hosts have an easy interface for buying domain names: Just search for something and follow the on-screen instructions. When buying a domain, keep two things in mind.
If you’re serious about branding and you have the funds, you might want to buy a number of TLDs with the same name. That is, if you are registering
mydomain.com, then you might want to buy the
.info and the local version as well (such as
You will also have the option to choose the length of your registration, the default being one year. There has been some debate and uncertainty about how domain age and registration factor into search engine optimization (SEO). Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, has said, “I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” which probably means you really shouldn’t. Again, if you have the funds, registering for five or six years is a lot more convenient.
Before moving on, I want to make the distinction between domain registration and hosting very clear. They are two completely separate things; many companies just happen to offer both as a service.
The situation is similar to city parking garages that also offer cars for sale. You could buy a car from one of them and also store your car in their garage, but you could also store your car in another garage because the car is legally yours.
Hosting is essentially a place to put your website’s files. Registering a domain means you’ve gained legal ownership of a piece of Internet real estate.