This is the first in a series of posts for Creating a Web Presence for your Community Group. In this post I will take a look at Domains.
Your Domain is the web address for your group eg www.yourclub.com.au or www.yourclub.asn.au. (actually the domain is the bit without the www, but that is getting a bit technical).
(I’m going to focus on .com.au domains – .org.au or .asn.au are similar also. There are more and cheaper options for hosting a .com or .org domain but there is also lots of info out there about them – just go to somewhere like www.godaddy.com)
First Step – do you have a Domain? If not – get one! It is very important to have a web presence for your group that represents the name of your group. There are 30 accredited resellers in Australia that can sell .au domains.
The site WhatsInAName.com.au lists all the providers by price. (The list of domain providers in Australia can be found here). However, price is not the only factor in choosing a domain provider.
Some technical details: Your choice of web hosting platform will also play a part in deciding which domain reseller to go with. If you require web hosting (see the next article on Web Sites for more info on that), it’s best to stick with the same company for domain hosting as it is easier for administration. If you don’t require web hosting, you may still need DNS hosting. The cheaper domain providers charge extra for DNS hosting or don’t include it at all, and it’s not really that obvious from looking at their websites. (There are free DNS providers such as OpenDNS or ZoneEdit).
This is where I would recommend not skimping and going for the cheapest option. You really want a Domain provider that is reliable, has great service and includes DNS Hosting. (For the record, I use TPP Internet, they are not the cheapest, but they do include DNS hosting. I have found their service to be excellent – they even phoned me to make sure I had paid for my domain name when it was due a few weeks ago).
Remember that registering a .au domain has rules associated with it – basically the domain name has to have something to do with the organisation you are registering. Eg you can’t registered MyClub.asn.au for a club called something entirely different. See the full rules here or there are more basic copies of the rules on the websites of all the domain providers. The site MyWebName.com.au also has some great resources and information.
You also need to decide how many domains to register. Do you want the .com and the .com.au? It’s completely up to you and would mainly be a problem if there were other names similar that might get confusing. To keep it simple, try to keep to one domain name.
If you already have a Domain then who owns it? When is it due to be registered? Do a Whois lookup on the domain. Go to MyWebName.com.au to do a Whois search on the domain. The Whois search will tell you the name and email address of the registered person. If that person has left your organisation you can at least try to email them to get the login details of your domain.
It also tells you who the domain registrar is and where the Nameservers point to – we will delve into Nameservers a bit later. If all else fails and you can’t contact the person who has registered the domain, then you can contact the domain registrar and ask them how you can take back control of the domain. (They may require a letter in writing on a letterhead from your organisation). But as the domain has been registered some time in the last two years, hopefully you will be able to get in touch with the person who did it.
Now you need to decide to keep the domain hosting with that company or transfer it to another company. Most domain companies will allow you to transfer your domains to them for free (as they want your ongoing business). If you have a few different domains it’s a good idea to transfer them all to the one company, and you can even have them synced so that they all expire on the same day.
All in all, the domain should not cost more than $140 for 2 years, and you can get it for a lot cheaper than that.
Keep a record of everything you have just found out – it will come in handy for later.
Update October 2011
Modified some broken links.
Note: $140 for 2 years is now ridiculously expensive for .com.au domains. One of the most expensive now is $99 for two years. Remember, the price stated on the website may not include DNS Hosting.