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What’s the difference between a domain name, website and web hosting?

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Harshal Shah
May 07, 2018

Starting and creating a website is an overwhelming task. Whether it’s for a personal blog or a full-on eCommerce website, there are a lot of moving parts that go into the creation of a website.

Making a website might seem complicated for any first-timer but if you really boil it down, there are only three main components that you really need to know to get started: a domain name, a website, and hosting.

Which is why in this article, we’ll be going over the difference between websites, domain names, and web hosting so that you have an idea what needs to be done. Once you’ve understood the difference, it’s going to require a bit of effort on your end to research on which web development services is the one for you.

Do you know what a domain name is?

Domain names are the address that you type in an internet browser’s bar, in order to access a website. Kind of like how you type in elsner.com to access this website!

The problem with domain names today is that millions of them have been registered already so it can be hard trying to find a good one for your website. A mistake that some people make is to put in unnecessary words or weird spelling to find an available website. The thing is, domain names should always be simple, short, and easy to remember.

If the domain name you want in unavailable, consider using different TLDs (Top-Level Domain). TLDs are the last part of your domain, which is often times are .COM. Today, there are hundreds of different TLDs to choose from, and some of it might fit your website better. If you’re targeting a specific country, then you can use that country’s TLD (i.e. .UK for the United Kingdom or .SG for Singapore). You can even opt for niche TLDs such as .TV or .PHOTOGRAPHY if you want.

Buying a domain name

Let’s say you’ve found the perfect domain name for your website, how do you go about buying it? Well, there are a number of companies online that specializes in domain names. These companies are called domain registrars and they will usually charge about 14.99 per year for a domain name.

Some of the more popular companies are:

  • GoDaddy
  • Namecheap

A few things that you need to keep in mind about buying a domain name. For starters, just because you registered a domain name, does not mean it’s yours forever. You’ll need to renew it every year if you want to keep using it. Most people tend to register their domain names for 2 to 3 years to avoid the hassle.

If you fail to renew your domain name, you will then lose ownership of it and have it buy it again. This can be extremely difficult as someone else can buy it before you and choose not to sell or selling it at an exorbitant amount.

Do you know what a website is?

A website is comprised of a page or a series of related pages that loads after you put in a domain name in an internet browser. It’s basically the medium in which your audience will experience your online content with.

Building a website

Back in the day, building a website would require an in-depth knowledge of coding and programming. If you’re good with either of those, then you’ll have to hire a professional developer to help build your website.

That’s not the case today as there are plenty of site builders available which can help you create a professional looking website. While you can still hire developers to create a customized website, it’s no longer a necessity if you want to have a working website.

Some of the more popular website builders around are:

  • Squarespace
  • Shopify
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • WooCommerce

Using website builders is a fairly simple process and often time doesn’t take more than a few steps. Generally, the process of a building a website will look like this:

  • Choose a website template
  • Customize the text, colors, fonts, images, etc.
  • Add any additional functionality if necessary (maps, gallery, signup page, etc.)
  • Add any additional pages that you need

And that’s all you have to do basically. Now, depending how much effort you’re willing to put, the process above could either take hours or days to complete. Bottom line, putting a website together is relatively quicker and easier nowadays.

Do you know what is web hosting?

When you create your website, you will need a place to store all of that data. That’s where a web host comes in. As the name suggests, a web host will host all of the content of your website so that people can access it over the internet. While all your files may be digital, it still needs to be stored on a physical hard drive and be accessible on the internet using a server.

Picking a web host

Trying to choose the best web hosting company can be hard as it all depends on what your website needs. Typically, a template-based website builder — like the ones we mentioned above — are also capable of hosting websites as well.

If you’re building your own website from scratch using WordPress or have hired a developer to create a customized website, then odds are you’ll need to find your own web host.

There are plenty of web hosts and different types of hosting plans as well. Some will offer dedicated server plans for your website while others will let you share your server with other websites. Depending on how much traffic you’re anticipating and how much extra room for growth you’ll need, it’s hard to decide on the best plan for your website.

Here are some of the popular hosting companies:

  • SiteGround
  • Bluehost
  • Hostgator
  • Kinsta
  • WebHostFace

A general rule of thumb for choosing hosting plans is if you’re creating a small blog or personal website; go for a shared server plan. Anything bigger and you might need to consider either VPS (virtual private server) or dedicated server plans.

Conclusion

Hopefully, with this article, you understand the difference between a domain name, website, and web hosting a little better. Getting started on your WordPress website? Make sure you check out the biggest trends in WordPress in 2018.

Did you find this article to be helpful? Let us know in the comments below!