We're often asked by new website administrators whether they can choose their own URL (web address) for their Site Builder site. Similarly, U3As moving from a previous web hosting service may wish to retain an existing domain name.
We can only issue a URL based on our own domain name: u3asites.org.uk. It is given when a site is published and will be something like u3asites.org.uk/app-humble (www is not necessary in our case). But all U3As are free to rent their own domain name from any of the major internet service providers (ISPs). Typically this will be something like youru3aname.org.uk, where youru3aname need not be exactly the same as the one registered with the Third Age Trust. So, Appleton-upon-Humble U3A might choose appletonu3a.org.uk or app-humu3a.org.uk. Choose a .org.uk name, which implies a not-for-profit organisation, rather than a .co.uk name for a business. Most importantly, choose a .uk name and not just one like youru3aname.org, because non-UK names are much more costly to rent and difficult to manage.
To link your domain name to your Site Builder website, use the web forwarding service that is provided free of charge by most major ISPs. It is not normally necessary to pay for a hosting package to enable web forwarding: just paying for a domain name is sufficient, at a typical cost of less that £10 for 2 years. The only information required is the permanent URL for your Site Builder site. Most major ISPs give clear and detailed instructions in the support section of their websites on how to set it up, which may involve several steps and can take up to 24 hours to become effective. If you find that you are being asked to pay for the service, or it refers to DNS management, or requires you to enter IP addresses, you are trying to use the wrong type of service: web forwarding involves none of these. Finally, if you are asked, choose permanent type web forwarding in preference to temporary type, and 301 redirection in preference to 302 redirection.
Many U3As have chosen to rent and publish their own domain name at minimal cost and, once set up, we have had no reports of problems in using these services. But as with many such issues, whether to go down this route is entirely a matter for the site administrator and his or her committee to decide in the light of their own particular circumstances.