Believe it or not, websites don’t need domain names. When your browser tries to find a website, it relies on a string of numbers, known as an IP address, to identify the server it is running on. When you give a browser a website name it looks up the corresponding IP address from a name server, a sort of Yellow Pages.
Some websites have their own static IP address so in principle you can type that number straight into the browser address bar and it should take you there. If your site is intended to be private, why bother naming it somewebsite.com when your visitors could just type 126.96.36.199?
Why having no domain name is impractical
These days, many providers will refuse to host your website if you call it by an IP address. A common reason is that many IP addresses aren’t permanent, they are assigned “dynamically” when the network needs them because that allows the provider to use fewer addresses for more websites. Even when a website or server has a permanent “static” IP address, hosting companies today may regard your using it as unusual and therefore suspicious. Some browsers also react in strange ways, such as assuming you want to search for the number rather than go there.
In any case, not many people want to keep their website secret and no commercial business would try to operate without a name, so your first step when creating a website is to a domain name registrar.
What does a domain name registrar do?
There are over a billion websites and none of them can have the same domain name, so leasing out names is a tightly controlled process. The structure of the name is also important, it can consist of several parts, separated by full stops, and each part helps the network make the right connections to locate you. The two main parts of your internet address are your chosen domain name, which is often also your business name, and the domain suffix, such as “.com”, “.co.uk” or “.uk.com”.
Overall control of the naming system lies with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the actual running of the databases and equipment that make the addressing system work is leased out to registry operators. For example, Verisign operate “.com” and Nominet operate “.uk”.
Domain name registrars are companies that retail the names on behalf of these organisations. This is quite a technical process and in order to be a registrar you must be approved by ICANN, have commercial insurance, and liaise closely with the various registries who operate the domain suffixes.
A significant portion of the fee you pay for a domain name is forwarded to the registry operator and a small amount to ICANN. Many names are sold through resellers who receive a commission from the registrar and provide additional web-hosting services.
Domain names are not owned
Few things in life are forever. Domain names are leased for an agreed period of time and must be renewed when that period expires. The cost of leasing many domain names is low, but this is not true in all cases. Most domain name registrars provide a search tool that will report whether a domain is available and how much it will cost to lease.
A first-class domain registrar: names.co.uk
We have been established since 1997 and manage hundreds of thousands of domain names for our customers. You can read all about us, and get in touch on 0345 363 3632 if there’s anything you need a hand with.
Or, if you’re feeling ready – use our domain search tool below and see what brilliant names you can find…