Before it can go online, every website needs to have a domain name (ie: google.com, paypal.co.uk) and this should be one of the first things you organise. You can buy national (.co.uk) or international (.com) domain names. Where possible, you need to find a domain name that relates to your business name, or the focus of your website. Obviously, millions of people got here before you, which means that many of the most attractive names have already been taken, so you might have to be a little creative in choosing your domain name.
You can't buy domain names outright, but instead pay an annual fee to use the name. In effect, you rent a domain name, and you can keep it for so long as you keep paying for it, whether or not you actually use it. Domain names aren't expensive, with a .com domain name costing no more than $15 a year. Some national domain names will cost more, and some less. However, finding the right name is often easier said than done. Aside from the millions of domain names already in use, speculators buy up any names that look attractive, not to use them but to immediately offer them for sale again as 'premium' names, for hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars.
If you do a Google search for something like 'London Cattery' you'll notice that the first few results are often from websites with domain names that include the words 'London' and 'Cattery' or 'Catteries'. Try again for something like 'Bed and breakfast' and you'll see that the first few results also include the words 'bed and breakfast' in the domain name. Sometimes this is because a website has been well-promoted, but usually it's just that Google assumes there's a good chance that these websites are what you're looking for.
So, whether you have a language school in Madrid, or a cattery in Lowestoft, it helps if you have a domain name that reflects the name of your business, or the type of business.
Before you start hunting for domain names, we suggest you draw up a list of acceptable names. For example, if you are thinking of getting a website for your cattery, which is called 'Top Cat' and is located in Kensington in London, you might draw up a list that includes 'top cat', 'top cat cattery', 'kensington cattery, 'london cattery', 'top cat london' and so on. It's worth remembering that the shorter a website name is, the easier it is to remember and find.
If you have a business in a specific country, like the UK, you should generally choose a national (.co.uk, for example) domain name. There are a whole range of specialist domain names available, such as .london, .biz, .holiday and so on, but in all honesty, we doubt the value of most of these and would generally advise you to focus on the more popular variants. For our own websites we use .com, .co.uk and .org and see little value in taking other names. Regardless, once you find an acceptable name, buy it immediately, before someone else beats you to it! In terms of where to look for a domain name, we always use GoDaddy.com. We don't recommend their hosting, but their domain management system is a doddle to use and we've never had cause to fault them.
For more information about domain names, which are the most popular and a whole range of other interesting facts, we suggest taking a look at the Information Geographies website.
Just like most businesses, websites often use a own logo. If you have an existing business you'll probably already have a logo you want to use. If you have an existing logo and have the original artwork, you will probably be able to use it on your website, always depending on its shape and size. If you don't already have a logo and don't want to design one yourself, we can usually help, either by creating something simple ourselves, or by asking a graphic designer to create one for you. Alternatively, you can do without a logo and just use your business or website name. It's entirely up to you.