What's in a name? The question is old, but has acquired a new meaning in the digital world.

It has become a struggle for companies and individuals to get a proper name in the World Wide Web (WWW). Most of them have found that the names they want have already been taken — some by genuine companies or persons and some by squatters.

A few years ago, it was a joke...and now it is real. Companies are named only after they get a decent name for their website. There was also a report where the parents waited for a few months before they decided on a name for their child — that was also available in the WWW. Again, it is not a joke, but something that really happened recently. There was also the couple who decided on two names — one male and one female — well before the baby was born, and registered two domain names.

Though this sounds crazy, it is extremely important that you have a web presence, or at least a domain registered in your or your company's name. It doesn't matter that you may not be using it for a long, long time. With millions of domain names getting registered every day, the name you might have in mind today, and is available now, may not be available tomorrow.

Why is a domain name and a website (we will come to that later) so important? It is just because your company's online presence matters a lot now. If you run a company, one of the first things you will be asked is the website URL. If you don't have one, you will look downright stupid.

First step

You don't have to have a website running immediately. Owning a domain name is the first step. You can keep a domain registered without having a website.

The domain name you choose must be as simple and short as possible. Even if your organisation or business has a long name, it is better to register a shorter version online also, so that your customers can get to the site easily. It is here you will encounter the first hurdle. The name you want may not be available, especially in the .com domain. You may have to try out several names before you get the name you are satisfied with. The availability position of any domain name is known instantly, so that you can quickly find out what names are available.

Once you decide on a name or names, you have to look for a good domain name registrar. Registrars can be located in any part of the world. Many of them often come out with offers, but if you are not interested in having the website up and running immediately, you have to ensure that you buy only the domain name, not the hosting part. You have to be careful here because many registrars bundle hosting packages with domain names and if you choose such an offer, you will end up buying a hosting package you are not going to use. Many such bundled ‘offers' are only for the first year or the first few years you are buying as a package. When you renew the contract, you may have to pay the full rate, which may be quite high, especially if you are not having any site.

If you are not planning to have a website now, you may wonder whether it is really necessary to buy a domain name which you are not going to use. It is necessary because you can take your own time and decide when to build your website, but when you do it, the domain name you want may not be available. And domain names (without hosting) don't cost much, and are a worthwhile investment.

Now, do individuals need domain names? Why do people even go to the extent of delaying naming babies because of domain names? If the kid grows up to become a celebrity, it is extremely unlikely that he will get a domain name of his choice two decades later, especially if he wants his name itself as a domain name.

It is something you have to do for your kids, and it's inexpensive. When they are old enough to understand what you have done, they will be grateful to you for doing it. Remember, the world they will live, will be a web ‘connected' world.

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