An Internet website is defined by its URL. A website hosted by a free host (e.g. an Internet access provider) generally has an address such as:
This type of address is rather difficult to commit to memory, so an address such as the following is preferable:
A website with its own domain name is much easier to memorise. It is much easier for a visitor to return to a website whose name is easy to remember than to a website whose name is extremely complicated.
What's more, a well-chosen domain name will help the site's popularity grow exponentially by word of mouth.
Given that a domain name must be easy to spread, it is essential to choose the easiest one possible. Obviously a domain name is not just a complex list of characters, so it should be chosen carefully by avoiding the following pitfalls:
There are tools (provided by the organizations in charge of domain names) called Whois that allow you to verify the availability of a domain name and even to find out who owns it.
Domain names are registered with an international organization (Internic) or with a registrar (in France the organization is Afnic). Domain classification (by business: commercial, not-for-profit, network organization, etc.), sometimes called TLD (Top Level Domain, generally corresponds to geographic distribution. Nevertheless, there are names originally created for the United States that allow you to classify the domain according to business sector. For example:
In addition, some of these domains have sub-domains. In France, for example:
Opening a domain name in France (a website whose name ends with .fr) is governed by more complicated acquisition rules. AFNIC, the organization in charge of assigning .fr domain names, only allows certain entities meeting certain conditions to acquire a .fr domain name. Here is a non-exhaustive list of conditions:
It is obviously necessary to have documents proving that the organization belongs to one of these categories:
However, AFNIC is gradually liberalising the .fr domain code. It is a good idea to regularly consult their website to find out the latest rules. New organizations that will soon be able to acquire a .fr domain name are:
It is possible to choose a redirection, i.e. a domain name that redirects the Internet user to a specific URL. This type of solution is a compromise that allows webmasters using free hosting services to benefit from an easy-to-remember name. Nevertheless, this system does not make the domain name appear in the browser address bar.
Some crafty Internet users take pleasure in buying large numbers of domain names. This process is called grabbing and consists of buying the domain names that certain companies could use before the companies buy them (e.g. the .com, .net and .org versions of the same domain name. This process is not controlled).
In the past, many unscrupulous individuals grabbed domain names and were successful at reselling these domain names (which often are brand names) to companies at very high prices (sometimes several million dollars). Since then, legislation regarding the Internet has become more rigid and only on rare occasions do courts side with cybersquatters.