Importance of a Domain Name
There are a number of good reasons for having a domain name:
If you ever change your web host (the actual physical location of your website files), your domain name goes with you. Your regular visitors or customers who knew your site name as (say) www.thesitewizard.com would not have to be informed about a change of web address (also known as "URL"), since as far as they are concerned, the site is still at the same place. They would simply type your domain name and they'd be transparently brought to your new location.
If you are a business, a domain name gives you credibility. Few people will be willing to do business with a company that does not have its own domain name.
If you get a domain name that describes your company's business or name, people can remember the name easily and can return to your site without having to consult their documents. In fact, if you get a good name that describes your product or service, you might even get people who were trying their luck by typing "www.yourproductname.com" in their browser.
If you want good sponsors (advertisers) for your website, a domain name is usually helpful. It tends to give your website an aura of respectibility.
Getting a domain name involves registering the name you want here . For example, if you choose a name like "example.com", you will have to go to a registrar, pay a registration fee that costs around US$10 to US$35 for that name. That will give you the right to the name for a year, and you will have to renew it annually for (usually) the same amount per annum.
Some web hosts will register it and pay for the name for free (usually only the commercial web hosts), while others will do it for you but you'll have to foot the registrar fees.
My personal preference is to register the name directly with a domain name registrar rather than through my web host. I've heard stories, in the past, of less-than-reputable web hosts that registered the domain under their own name, making them the owner of the domain rather than you (although I don't know if such web hosts still exist today). Registering direct with a domain name registrar allows me to make sure that I am registered as the owner, the administrative and technical contacts. Being the owner is vital — if someone else places himself as the owner (such as your web host), he can always decide to charge you some exorbitant fee for the use of the name later, and there is little you can do. The various other contacts are less vital, but may still play important roles, depending on your registrar. For example, for some registrars, the administrative contact's approval is required before a domain name is transferred out of a web host (or at least, it used to be). If he/she cannot be contacted, the technical contact is used.
Domain names disappear extremely fast. Many people claim that all the good domain names are gone. I doubt that — but it is probably true that most good domain names that are descriptive of products and services have been taken. If you want a domain name for your site, I suggest you act now, or face the anguish of having lost that name later. After all, US$10 (more or less) for a year's ownership of the name is rather cheap when you realise that you're securing a good name for your website.
Step By Step Instructions
If you want to register a domain name, here's what you need to do. Please read it all before acting.
Think of a few good domain names that you'd like to use. It won't do to think of only one — it might already be taken (it probably is). You can find some tips on choosing a good domain name from my article, at
There's more to it than meets the eye.
You will need either a credit card or a PayPal account or Mpesa to pay for the domain. This is a requirement of most if not all registrars. It will allow you to claim and get the domain name immediately on application. This is not an option (unfortunately).
If you already have a web host, obtain from them the names of their primary and secondary nameservers. Don't worry if you don't understand what these things mean. Just save the information somewhere. The information can usually be obtained from their FAQs or other documentation on their site, usually under a category like "domain name" or "DNS" or "domain name transfer" and the like. If you can't find it, email them. You'll need the information to point your domain name to your website after you buy your domain. Having said that, if you don't have a web host yet, don't worry. Just read on.
If you do not have a web host, you can always allow the registrar to park your domain name at a temporary website specially set up for you. This way you can quickly secure your domain name before it's too late and still take your time to set up the other aspects of your site. As far as I can tell, most registrars (or probably all) automatically park your domain by default whether you ask them to or not, so if this is your situation, you probably don't have to do anything special to get it done. Some of those registrars also provide you with a free email address at your own domain name while it is parked at their site, like
email@example.com(where "example.com" is your domain).