Domains are a unique way to identify yourself on the Internet. There are two parts to a domain: the name and the extension. The name is the description of yourself or your site (for example, the name "dogfood" in dogfood.com). The extension represents the domain category. For example, the .com extension means "commercial," .net means "network," and so on. There are many extensions available today: .biz (business), .info (resource sites), .us (American sites), .ca (Canadian sites), to name a few. The "www" is automatically inserted by the web server that hosts your site and is not part of the domain name.
You cannot use a domain name until you register it. In addition, you cannot register a domain name that is owned by someone else. The registration process is fairly simple:
1. Decide on a domain name and extension.
2. Select a registrar and register your domain name.
Deciding on a domain name and extension is difficult because most names are already taken, especially with the .com extension. We highly recommend nameboy.com, a free service that finds not-yet-taken domain names based on one or two words describing your site.
There are many registrars on the Internet. A simple search engine query for "domain name registration" will return hundreds, if not thousands of results. Be sure to choose a registrar that supports the extension you want (for example, not all registrars will sell the .cc extension). Comparison shopping is wise because registration fees can vary greatly between registrars. Domain names are leased, and the registration fee usually represents the cost for one year of ownership.
Your web hosting company is the best resource if you are still confused about domain names. Many hosts will assist you in the domain registration process and ensure that everything is configured properly.