What’s in a Name: Choosing a Domain Name

Post was adapted from our old Knight.domains blog originally written by Autumm Caines


Post was adapted from our old Knight.domains blog originally written by Autumm Caines

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, two star crossed lovers try to overcome the fate that is dictated by their names. Romeo is a Montague and Juliet is a Capulet – their families have been feuding for years. In struggling with the hand they have been dealt Juliet questions the very nature of names and their meaning.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;”

Alas things did not work out so well for the story of our lovers. Their names, the histories and associations that came with them, held meaning for the world around them and this impacted their story.

Hopefully, choosing a name for your domain will not have such dire consequences but naming is not something that you should take lightly. The name you choose will set the tone for everything that you do there and once you register a domain name you cannot change it; so it is best to give thought to this up front.

Technical Stuff

Knight Domains is a great service that gives you 1GB of web hosting for free but it does not give you a custom top level domain. Instead you will be given a subdomain of knight.domains and you can continue to create more subdomains yourself off of your custom subdomain. Let’s unpack this a bit.

Anatomy of a Domain Name

Domain names are unique addresses that take you to a specific place on the web. You probably know these as URLs.

Top-Level Domain Names and Root Domain Names

Top-level domains (TLD) are the common .com, .org, .info, etc. that you see on the web. Root domain names are those that combine letters with the .com, .org, .info, etc to create unique address – examples are facebook.com, cnn.com, and google.com. These names are registered for a yearly fee with a domain registrar and have to be unique to the world – there can be only one facebook.com, cnn.com, or google.com or any other name. Once registered no one else can own that domain name but if it ever lapses it will go back on the market and anyone can buy it. The fee can vary depending on the TLD but the most common ones (the .com’s and .org’s) run about $10 – $15 per year. People also sometimes auction off domain names that they have registered if they think that they might be valuable.

Knight Domains TLD is .domains which is not as popular as a .com or .org but it is our name so it works out nicely.

Subdomains

Subdomains are owned by the person or group who owns the root domain and they are free. Knight Domains is not able to pay for TLDs for everyone but we can offer a free subdomain of knight.domains to students, faculty, and staff at St. Norbert College.

You will choose a unique name for your subdomain and it will be followed by knight.domains (uniquename.knight.domains). Your name does not need to be unique to the world but it will need to be unique to Knight Domains.

Just like we can offer you a free subdomain of knight.domains you can create even further subdomains once you register your name. How is that helpful? Keep reading.

Using subdomains

Subdomains are not just pages on the web they are whole new spaces on your domain. You can use subdomains for different projects, let’s look at an example. Fictional student Quiggly Quanz finds out that quiglyquanz.knight.domains is available and decides to register this. Quiggly starts building a portfolio here but then a teacher in a class wants the class to blog on their own domains. This is the perfect time for a subdomain. Quigly does not want all that info about the class on their portfolio and the portfolio content would seem out of place for the rest of the class.

Quigly simply sets up classblog.quiglyquanz.knight.domains. And next semester when Quigly is planning a trip abroad they can set up studytrip.quiglyquanz.knight.domains.

In this way you can use naming to really get a lot of bang for your buck out of your domain using it for multiple projects and purposes.

Practical Stuff

There is a lot to be said for registering your legal name on Knight Domains. It is your name and if you are looking for an audience to find you it is a great way to go. Additionally, once someone else at SNC registers it you no longer can. The problem with using your legal name is the same thing that makes it so great – it is your name and people can find you. If you are still unsure of the digital identity that you would like to build or if you have other reasons that you rather not want your legal name tied to your Knight Domains subdomain, consider other naming ideas like a using a pseudonym or incorporating some aspect of your major or other interests. 

If your legal name is taken there are many things that people do to get around this – for instance adding “the” to the beginning of the name like “theautumm.knight.domains” or using a title like “drautumm.knight.domains” (I don’t have a MD or a PhD so I can’t really pull that off but you see where I’m going with this).

What’s Next?

  • Come up with 3-5 potential domain names that could work for you. Share them with some friends, family, professors, etc. see what they think. What names do they think have the best ‘ring’ to them.
  • Once you have decided on a name contact the Tech Bar and set up an appointment to get started.
  • Have more questions or see how this post could be better? Comment below.

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