Domains 101

Elisabeth Donoghue

Elisabeth Donoghue

February 20, 2024

At Human Factor Digital, we take the headache out of buying and managing custom domains for smart people and projects that matter. But every journey towards online enlightenment begins with a simple first step… so let’s break down the basics of domains. Why do they matter, what are they, and how do you get one?

Why does a custom domain matter?

We could write a 5,000 word treatise on this topic, but since this is Domains 101 let’s keep it simple and stick with the highlights. Here are the top three reasons a custom domain matters in 2024:

  1. A custom domain name speaks volumes about your professionalism and credibility to potential customers, even when you’re not face-to-face in front of them. Your domain signals that you are established and invested in your online presence, instilling trust and confidence in the people you want to reach.
  2. A custom domain name allows you to create a unique brand identity and set yourself apart from competitors who don’t meet your standard of quality. It reinforces brand recognition and helps build brand awareness among customers.
  3. A custom domain name can help you get found, by incorporating your name or keywords into the domain. This can improve search engine visibility and attract more interested traffic to your site website.

That’s nice. So what is a domain, again?

A domain is a human-readable address that identifies a website on the internet. This address is a semi-permanent indication of where your people can find you online, and just like a physical address it can be broken down into components.

Domains are composed of two main parts: the domain name and the domain extension.

Domain Name

This is the unique name that represents the identity of a website. It typically consists of a series of alphanumeric characters and may include hyphens or underscores (though we almost always recommend picking a short, memorable URL wherever possible). For example, in the domain name “,” “HumanFactorDigital” is the domain name.

Domain Extension

Domain extensions follow the domain name, and signify the type or category of the website. If you’ve ever heard the term “TLD”, this acronym stands for Top Level Domain and it means the same thing. Common TLDs include “.com,” “.org,” “.edu,” “.gov,” “.co,” “.shop” and the like. You may be familiar with the older government domain extensions like “State.Tx.Us” but these have fallen out of favor because they can get unwieldy/long quickly.

Together, the domain name and extension form the complete domain address, such as “” When people enter a domain name into a web browser, the domain name system (DNS) translates it into the corresponding IP address of the web server where the website (or email service) is hosted, allowing your audience to access the site in their browser if your server is online.


What is a custom domain?

Custom domains are the web address for JUST your business, as opposed to a permalink where you appear but don’t own the site (think,,, or Custom domains establish a unique online identity for a website, email address, or other online activity. Frequently used by businesses, organizations, professionals, bloggers, and individuals, custom domains offer you a chance to create a memorable and professional online presence without the distractions of a third-party platform.


When do I need to upgrade from listing my business on third-party sites to a custom domain?

Invest in a custom domain when you are ready to establish a robust online presence and want to present a professional image to your customers and clients. It’s a good idea to invest in a custom domain early on, especially if the business plans to grow and establish brand recognition.


How much does a custom domain cost?

Costs vary depending on several variables including the type of domain extension (also known as Top Level Domain… your “.com,” “.net,” “.org,” “.co” and the like) and any additional services or features included with the domain registration. SSL certificates that make your site secure (and thus more trustworthy) in the eyes of the search engine titans are an “option” but if you intend to ever build a website, you’ll want the added credibility and protection they offer.

Generally, domain registration fees range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per year. Most domain registrations are for a one-year term, meaning that you will need to renew your domain registration to stay online. Some registrars offer multiple-year terms for an additional fee, so be sure and look for these options if you’re ready to make that commitment.


What custom domains are available now?

This changes every minute! We love to help our clients find the best domain possible but also work with what you bring to the table. Human Factor Digital offers turnkey support for your existing custom domain, and we can also help you through the process of finding, securing, and managing your domain if you haven’t yet taken this big step.

<a href="" target="_self">Elisabeth Donoghue</a>

Elisabeth Donoghue

About The Author

As a forward-thinking entrepreneur and digital strategist, I am dedicated to helping people thrive online. I'm passionate about website design, digital services, and branding, so I founded Human Factor Digital to empower companies with impactful digital solutions. From third-party WordPress plugin integrations to comprehensive branding design, we've got your back. With a focus on human-centered design for people who care and projects that matter, I work tirelessly to ensure that my clients achieve their goals and stand out in today's competitive market. Let's connect and explore how we can elevate your digital presence together.