What’s The Difference Between a Domain, Hosting and a Website?

Laptop with a hosting company on sceen sat on a desk with a cup of coffee and office equipementI’ve got to tell you, I feel a little embarrassed.

You see, one of the most confusing things when starting a website is trying to get your head around the technical stuff like domain names, web hosting, and the actual website itself.

With this in mind, I’ve just realized that nowhere on this site have I covered the subject
in depth.

Sure, I’ve mentioned it here and there, but it’s about time that I addressed the subject properly and help you cut through the technical jargon and leave you in no doubt as to what these things are and the difference between them.

Although it’s an important subject, this could end up being one of my shortest posts to date which will probably come as a welcome change if you’re a regular reader.

In fact, I think I can hear the sighs of relief from here!

So, What Exactly is a Domain Name?

In a nutshell, a domain name is the address of your website.

You home has an address right?

That address tells people where you live so they can visit you if they wish.

Well, it’s the same with a website. You need to purchase a domain name so when someone types it into their browser, they’ll be sent to the correct destination. That destination being your site.

For example; My website name is Website Builder Wars and so my domain name is websitebuilderwars.com.

Your domain name could be something like yourbrandnewbusiness.com.

You can usually pick up a domain name for around $10-$15 per year so it’s not exactly going to break the bank.

Web Hosting Explained

A website is made up of all kinds of files and content, these files can’t just be left to float around cyberspace and so they need to be stored somewhere.

This is what a hosting company does, they store or “host” them for you and finding one should be next on your to-do list once you’ve purchased your domain name.

Hosting can cost anything from a few dollars, up to $250 per month depending on the quality required and your individual needs.

Side note: Once you’ve purchased your domain, it then needs to be “connected” with your chosen hosting company.

It’s a pretty simple procedure, but if you’re brand new to all of this website building stuff, then it makes sense to purchase your domain and hosting together from the same company.

Doing it this way will save you time as well as some potential headaches trying to figure out how to connect them together.

That Just Leaves The Website Itself

For a website to be a website, it requires some kind of content management system.

I know that sounds quite “techy”, so think of it as a framework or an outer shell that’ll be used to house your website content.

WordPress is one of the most popular content frameworks available today and once you have your domain name and hosting in place, it can usually be installed with just a couple of clicks of your mouse.

There are plenty of other options available too, website builders like Wix and Weebly are very popular these days.

They may not be quite as powerful as WordPress, but they do offer you an “all-in-one” solution where you can purchase a domain name and they’ll take care of all of the other stuff like hosting and security making them an ideal choice for beginners.

How Do All Of The Pieces Fit Together?

Well, let’s think about how you arrived at this page.

I’m assuming that you probably clicked a link in either in Google or on a social media site.

This action told “the internet” that this was the website address (domain name) that you wish to visit.

At this point, my hosting company sprung into action and delivered all of these website components to you in a readable format, the end result being this page that you’re reading right now.

Over To You

I sincerely hope I’ve been able to help clear things up and that I haven’t just confused you even more.

If you’re interested in building a website of your own, click here to read my step-by-step guide which will walk you through the entire process.

If you have any questions about domains, hostings or building websites in general, then feel free to fire away in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I possibly can.

Lee Raybould

Welcome! I’m definitely no “techie” but I do have years of experience creating websites for myself and others. I created this site to guide you through this brave new world of do-it-yourself website builders and help you find the right platform for your business or project. So, kick off your shoes and make yourself at home. Oh, if you need any help along the way, just ask!

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