About Domain Name System Extensions

DNS or domain name system is a web site identification system that uniquely associates a name (a set of characters) to a unique IP address. It was implemented to facilitate easier navigation, since it's almost impossible for a human to remember sets of random numbers and differentiate between them. The human mind remembers through association, so a suggestive name is much easier to remember than a set of numbers.

A DNS address is composed of several standard elements: the web protocol (usually HPPT), followed by the web prefix or sub-domain name (www or the name of a sub-domain), the actual web site name and the extension.

The most important component is the actual web site name, since it's the component that captures attention, and it needs to follow a set of rules: it needs to be short, precise (no ambiguous terms), suggestive of what the site has to offer and easy to remember. When reading the name, a user needs to get a sense of what the website is about, the name needs to persuade the user into visiting and most importantly, it needs to convince him that your website is better than other websites even before he visits.

But the name itself is not everything. We tend to remember things as a whole, not by specific parts. The protocol and prefix usually are standard and rarely change, and the name is unique to each site, so this leaves the extension.

There are many standard types of extensions, which represent different things. Extensions coupled with names give a general feel of what the web site is about, and contribute to the whole name address, which the user can remember and associate with the content.

Extensions are 2 or 3 character sequences that hold specific meanings, and act as descriptors, to help classify websites.

The 2 character extensions represent country names. Each country has its own extension, for example USA has .us, Canada has .ca, France has .fr, Germany has .de, and so on. Country extensions serve to inform a user that this specific website is either owned, or maintained, or created by someone in that specific country, or that its contents are specific to the country it points to. The thematic for these sites can vary without limitation.

The 3 character extensions describe websites based on the type of content they offer, the type of people they target or the type of activity they undertake.

The most popular 3 character extension is .com, which represents a commercial organization. Other extensions are .biz for business use, .org for general profit or non-profit organizations, .net for network infrastructures, .gov for government related websites, .mil for military websites, and so on.

With a few exceptions (.gov, .mil), these extensions are free to be used for whatever purpose needed, but it's recommended that they be used for the purposes they've been created for.

Extensions coupled with names need to give an accurate idea of the thematic and content of a web site, so it's vital that they are chosen correctly, otherwise a user will not be attracted to visit.