What is a website?

A website homepage with a navigation bar.
A website is a group of related pages that are linked together through a domain name. A typical website has a homepage with a navigation bar listing other web pages. Each page can serve a different purpose and have unique text or media.

In order to show up correctly in a web browser, websites have to follow standard coding and structural guidelines.

What is a domain name?

A domain name is an address that identifies your website’s unique location online. Think of a domain name as the directions to your site. When people type the name into an address bar, the browser can find out where your site is hosted. A domain name consists of the words that come after “www.” A site with multiple pages has a subdomain for every page.

Keep one thing in mind — a registered domain name can exist without a website. In fact, speculators buy up thousands of unused domain names in hopes of selling them at a higher price. A site isn’t live until the domain name points to the website and host. It’s also possible to have multiple domains directing to the same site.

You must pay an annual fee to own a domain and renew your registration.

If your domain expires and someone else purchases it, you can make an offer to try and regain ownership. However, most sellers will charge much more than your renewal fee, since the domain is in demand.

What is a URL?

Remember how a website can have more than one page under the same domain? Every page needs an exact address to identify its location on the site as a whole. This is true even when a site is a single page. A Universal Resource Locator (URL), is the complete address for each web page.

Websites look simple on the surface, but they’re basically made up of data and file directories. A web host stores and processes all of these files on computers known as web servers.

Many website building platforms sell domains and web hosting, making it easy for beginners to quickly create a site. Otherwise, you can find your own web hosting provider

Choosing the right host affects your website cost, speed, and security. A host has to be reliable with backup servers and few site outages. You don’t want a business site to be out of service at unpredictable times, driving away customers.

Another thing to consider is shared versus dedicated hosting. With shared hosting, the provider hosts multiple sites on the same server. As a result, each site has limited bandwidth, and the owner is charged with exceeding the limit. Dedicated hosting means your site is the only one on the server. Dedicated servers are better for large sites with a high volume of traffic.

Many web hosts offer a monthly or yearly subscription, with a discounted percentage for the latter option. Some only offer annual options, which may be difficult to pay upfront with a tight budget.

 

AUTHOR / Claire Crowther