The Importance of Domain Names

If I could, I would jump through my photo into your showroom, go over to your favorite display, stand on top of it and yell at the top of my lungs: "This will be the most important thing I will ever write in any column!" Okay, you heard it first, right here in Kitchen & Bath Design Newsif you haven't already done so, you need to secure your Web site address! (An example of a Web site address is www.Kitchens.com.)'

You can't wait any longer.'

Even if you don't have any plans for a Web site tomorrow, the next day or even in the next millennium, you need to secure your Web site address, otherwise known as your domain name, ASAP! Not securing a domain name is like designing a kitchen without adding a refrigeratordown the line, you'll wonder exactly what you were thinking, and how you missed something so basic.

Over 5,000 domains are being secured each day, so your domain may have already been taken. To find out, go to the Web site www.Internic.net. (as opposed to www.Internic.com, which will charge you $150 more for basically the same service.)'

Securing your name
Let's say your company's name is Designer Kitchens and Baths. Since you're only allowed 26 characters for the domain (actually only 22, as you automatically count 4 for the ".com"), you could see if DesignerKitchens.com is available. If that name has been secured by another company, the Web site will tell you who has the domain name and when it was secured. Then, you will have to try another form of your name.'

When checking to see if a domain you want is available, note that you do not include the www. If DesignerKitchens.com is taken, try DesignerKitchens.net.'

Here are some additional helpful hints:

  • Don't shorten your name so that your domain is difficult to recognize. For example, don't shorten Designer Kitchens and Baths to www.DesKitBath.com. It is not an "attractive" domain, nor is it easy for people to remember.'
  • Ask your Web site design firm if it will sign up your domain name for you. Most firms offer this as part of their design package. Be sure to find out if there is an additional charge for securing a domain.
  • It doesn't matter if you use small letters or caps in your domain names. I always capitalize the first letter of the words within the address, so that the address is easily recognized.
  • A word of caution: Many companies and individuals are unethically (but legally), signing up domains "belonging" to other companies.'
  • A kitchen dealer in California was unable to get her company's domain name after an area company scoured local papers and magazines and then signed up all the domains of all companies that had spent money on advertising. Likewise, an interior designer participated in a trade show, and then learned that someone had gotten a list of all the companies at the show and secured those companies' domain names.

Why do people secure other's domain names?
1. They hope to make money by selling the name back to you. The most I've ever heard of a domain name being sold for was 3.3 million dollars.'
2. They hope to secure you as a customer for their Web site design business/ad agency, since they already have your domain name.
3. Their company's name is similar to the name of your company.

If you sign yourself up for a domain name, you must have a primary and secondary server. A server is basically computer equipment that provides a foundation for your site to live on in cyberspace. If you don't have access'
to one, you can pay an additional fee to the Internic; your Web site design firm may also include the registration process as part of'its service.

When another company secures your domain for you, insist that your domain name be billed and registered to your company. This is done by listing you as the billing and main contact with the Internic. That way, you own your domain name. This may prove especially helpful down the line in the event that you are not happy with that firm and want someone else to host/redesign your Web site.

The cost for a domain name is only $70 for the first two years. Once that first 2 years have passed, you will be billed $35'per year.

When kitchen and bath dealers ask me how much a Web site should cost to set up, I respond,'"I really want to remodel my kitchen, how much will I need'to invest?"
'
Likewise, Web sites range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Neither does the price automatically reflect quality, because quality is not just based on how it looks, but on how well the site works.'

I've seen beautifully designed, expensive Web sites that few potential clients will ever find because they aren't built correctly behind the scenes. Likewise, many manufacturers don't realize that they've lost thousands of potential clients because their sites were not built correctly. (And yes, that is something I can easily figure out from my computer in Chicago.)

If you're concerned about your marketing budget, but realize the importance of a Web site, consider cutting back on the size of your Yellow Pages ad. Then establish a Web site and include your Web site address within the Yellow Pages ad.'

As for how to find someone to design a site for you, your best bet is to surf the 'Net and visit other kitchen dealers' sites. At the bottom of the home page (first page), there's normally a link to that Web site design firm's Web site. I would also suggest asking friends who designed their Web sites for them, and get referrals if they are pleased with the traffic to it.'

For those of you who claim to be dinosaurs when it comes to computers, or for those of you who are so busy because "times are-a-boomin'" for the industry, I really can't stress strongly enough how important it is to at least secure your domain name. While times are busy and most of us are prospering, the Internet is not going away. It's simply becoming a stronger force in both our personal and professional lives. The Internet provides all of us with a marketing opportunity for continued success.

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