Your URL, Domain Name, or Web Address is your telephone number in cyberspace. Probably the best one is just your name, like JustinTimberlake.com. On this page you’ll find resources for finding and registering your Domain Name. And also info on Domain Name Hacks.
In their 2017 Superbowl ad, Squarespace parodied the frustration of finding that your name isn’t available:
4 in 1
Many of you will get all 4 elements from 1 place:
- Domain Name
- Web Hosting
- Platform (ePortfolio / CMS)
This is probably easiest and best for most of you.
Sometimes you’ll want to get 1 or more elements from a separate provider. Most platform companies, like WordPress, Squarespace, and others, will “register” common domain names for you, like .com or .me. But they often don’t register the more unusual ones that you occasionally might want.
More than “.com” (about Top Level Domains)
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address of your website. Like your “internet telephone number.” In a URL like https://glenn.zucman.com, the “.com” part is called a TLD (Top Level Domain).
In the early days of the web, there were only a few TLDs. Like .org, .net, .gov, .edu, and so on. And by far the most common TLD was and is .com. .com is so common, many people incorrectly think that .com means “internet”.
In addition to those few original TLDs, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers) recognizes 42 more countries than the United Nations does. The UN recognizes about 206 nations, but ICANN supports 248 country TLDs, like .us & .uk.
Some people like to use country TLDs for “domain name hacks.” For example:
- bit.ly the URL Shortener, uses “.ly”, the country code for Libya
- dipty.ch, a magazine I’m on the editorial team of, uses “.ch”, the country code for Switzerland
Some common Domain Name Hacks using Country Codes are:
- Canada, .ca, for California
- Laos, .la, for Los Angeles, or Louisiana
- Tuvalu, .tv, for Television stations
- British Indian Ocean Territory, .io, for web developers
A few years back, ICANN expanded the list of TLDs from the original handful (plus contries) by adding many hundreds of new TLDs. Like .plumbing & .ninja.
Here are some of the TLDs that you might like to use for an Art Website:
Color Name TLDs
There are also color name TLDs that you might like to consider:
For most of you, just your name, like TaylorSwift.com is best.
If your TaylorSwift.com is already taken, you might try TaylorSwift.net or .org, .me etc.
Step 1: Google Yourself
Do a search for your name. Do an image search for your name. Bonus points if websites with your content and photos of you or your work come up. But the real point of your name search is to see who else comes up. Is your name somewhat common? Does some singer or athlete somewhere also have your name?
Sometimes you want privacy online. That’s what posting stupid pix on Snapchat is for. With an artist’s portfolio most likely you’d like your work to be found by curators, artists, collectors, grant and residency jurors, and others.
If the results for your name are already “crowded” you might want to think about a middle initial, different spelling, or nickname. It’s kind of a big decision since it’s about your identity and will hopefully be a name you use for many years to come. Don’t pick something you aren’t comfortable with, but do consider how discoverable your work is under a given name.
Who the #### is John Malkovich?
What if, like the actor turned fashion designer in the Squarespace ad, someone already has your name?
First, be sure to really check! Don’t just presume. You may have found your name not available when you signed up for Gmail or Tumblr, but those names are free and peeps can keep them forever, so they tend to get snatched up even if they’re not used. A Domain Name costs $20+/- and you have to renew every year, so lots of names that are not available on Gmail or Tumblr, turn out that they are available as domains.
If your “GlennZucman.com” isn’t available you can try various other extensions, like .net, .me, .art etc. Or you can think about middle initials and nicknames.
Your name is deeply wrapped up in your identity both personally and professionally, so how you present yourself is a very personal decision. If your name is a little on the common side you might want to consider a spelling or other modification that allows you to not only buy a Domain Name, but also is available on Instagram, Twitter, and so on.
Rip the band-aid off
If you do come up with a better online handle but are hesitant to part with your old “high school” handles because people know them, I’d encourage you to just rip the band-aid off, just dive into the cold water already. Sooner and faster is almost always better. With something like Gmail, you can have the old and the new and have the old read by the new account, so nothing’s lost, and you can be migrating to a more professional identity. With your handle on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc, I’d just go for it. The ability to have the same name on all of them is really great. And moving forward is almost always better than lingering in the past.
BTW, when you buy a domain name like “zucman.com”, you can also set up your own email, like “firstname.lastname@example.org”. This can be pretty cool. But generics like email@example.com are free and handy. And platforms like Gmail & Microsoft Mail are so aggressive on spam filtering, that your firstname.lastname@example.org might wind up going to recipient’s spam folders.
Domain Name Registrars
URLs like YourName.com can probably just be registered with Squarespace, WordPress, et al.
If any of you want to register a name separately (then you just point it to the host/platform of your choice – very easy to do and I can help) you can use any “Domain Name Registrar.” Here are a few:
All 3 are pretty good. There are many other choices that are pretty good too.
As with everything else in this class, you can use any platform/provider of your choice. But I’ll add one personal/editorial note here: GoDaddy is evil. For years they have consistently promoted misogynistic advertising and they’ve worked against their own customers. They’ve been arrogant and cavalier about their customers. They were an early advocate of SOPA/PIPA, the online censorship bill that very nearly became law. Only when users started a mass exodus away from GoDaddy did they soften their position on this monstrous piece of legislation. You can use any Domain Registrar you like, but I’d strongly encourage you to use anybody but GoDaddy.
NameCheap is offering Free .me domains and $5 .com domains to students “for a limited time.” I’m not sure how long “for a limited time” is, but it should be at least a year, perhaps longer. You can get one here:
Domain Name Hacks
If you want to come up with a domain name hack for your URL, there’s a great website that helps you figure them out: