We're often reminding our clients that they need to own their domain and know the address, but what does that even mean? How does it have an address? What is a domain, DNS and an IP address, and why do you need access?
We’re often reminding our clients that they need to own their domain and know the address, but what does that even mean? How does the Internet have an address? What is a domain? Well, simply put, your domain is how people find your website. When you open up your Internet browser and type “infomedia.com,” for example, into the address bar, some wonderful and magical things happen. Digital gnomes make their way out into the world to fulfill your request. They pour over volumes of information to find the exact website you’re looking for and bring it back to you safely.
Ok, so digital gnomes may not actually be part of the process, and what actually happens is slightly more technical than magical.
In the end, every website is housed at an IP address. Infomedia’s is 22.214.171.124. You can enter this number into your browser right now, and still land on our homepage, no different than if you typed “infomedia.com.” The thing is that all websites are like this, and each has its own corresponding IP address. This is great for computers, but not so great for humans. We humans don’t always have the best of memories, and attempting to remember a 12 digit string of numbers for every site we visit could be a pretty daunting task.
This is where that technical/magic happens. We have a system that allows us to tie those strings of numbers to a simple word or phrase, like “infomedia.com,” “google.com,” “facebook.com.” So now, rather than having to type 126.96.36.199, we can simply type “infomedia.com” and get to where we need to go.
This system is called the Domain Name System, or more often known as DNS. The Domain Name System can be thought of much like a phone book. It’s a list of names (domain) along with their corresponding number (IP address). It’s a way to link domains to their IPs in a way that makes it easy for both humans and computers to understand.
So why is this important for you, the client, to know?
Why It’s Important to Own Your Domain
At Infomedia, we always emphasize the importance of owning and having control over your domain. Your domain is one of the most important parts of your website. Without your domain, no one will be able to visit your site (no matter how amazing it is), unless they know the direct IP address … which, if they’re a human and not a computer, they probably don’t.
Imagine opening a phone book with no names and just numbers. There’s no context to know who any of those numbers lead or belong to. The same goes for your website. Without a domain, you’d just be lost in the sea of digits.
Owning that piece and having control over it is very important. The sad thing is that we see new clients every day that don’t have access to their domain. They don’t know where it was purchased or the login information needed to get to it. Without that information, there’s no way to point that domain name (using the DNS) to where your new site will kept. Plus, not having control over your domain can lead to having to purchase a new domain which can cause several unfortunate things:
Loss of brand recognition
Loss of current clients, since they can no longer find you at the old domain
Malfunctioning email addresses or other website services
Lost Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Out-of-date business cards, pamphlets, brochures and marketing materials that have to be reissued
So, What Can You Do?
When you purchase your domain, make sure that you write down and save any login information or account details somewhere safe that you’ll remember. Also, if someone else — friend, family member, or even a website design company — purchases the domain for you, make sure that you have full access, in the event they are no longer available to make changes.
Having a website without a way to point your domain to it is frustrating, confuses the digital gnomes, and generally causes havoc for your website or your business. The good news is, preventing these problems is easy: If you have access to your domain, protect it. And if you don’t have access to your domain, start the process now — before those gnomes lose their way and it’s too late.