It's easy to think a domain name and a website are the same. While they are closely connected, they are very different things.
Owning and publishing a website or blog involves two separate pieces, your domain and your web host.
It’s important to understand how these work to effectively manage your website:
You must have a domain name to have a website.
The Domain is the address people use to get to your site. For example, Central Coast Web Design’s domain is: http://www.centralcoastwebdesign.com.au.
You can register a domain with any number of registrars or providers – basically you pay an annual fee to use that particular web address with most companies charging in 2 yearly blocks. If you stop paying, someone else can buy and use the domain instead.
Website hosting is the service that actually stores your website’s files that display on the internet.
To host a website you will need to “rent” server space from a company that agrees to store your files.
Basically, you put your website’s files on your web host’s servers (A server is a computer that provides data to other computers) and then tell your domain to point to those files when someone enters your URL into the address bar (The URL is the web address that contains the files of the website).
It’s a bit like putting a SIM card in a mobile phone – the SIM card tells that phone, “Hey, you work with this particular phone number now.” Without the hosting services, you won't have a place for your files to reside, so your domain would then become like a disconnected phone number in the phone directory, and your site files wouldn’t have anywhere to stay and be viewed.
To start with a new website you will need:
1. A domain name purchased from any number of providers & will require annual renewal fee to be paid to the domain provider. Your domain name should reflect your products or services so that your customers can easily find your business through a search engine. … Is it easy to spell? Does it reflect your company name or product line? Does the domain name match what your customers will be searching for online? Do your research on possible names to determine if there may be conflicts with existing businesses.
2. Web hosting plan purchased from any number of providers that will require a monthly/annual fee to be paid to the web hosting company. Many cheaper website hosting companies have their data centres overseas. Distance can have an effect on your websites loading speed so depending on your site’s needs; an Australian based host may be a better fit.
3. Website files – What your visitors or potential customers actually see when they visit your website.
This can be built by a professional website company at an agreed price or it can be built yourself if you know how to. The site files contain many files that you would be familiar with like a .jpg photograph, or .mp3 music file.
Website files however also contain other files that you may not be familiar with like .php .css or .html files. These are files that web developers use and deal with the display and functioning of a site.
Further info, have a look at our next post in this series of ‘Curious & Curiouser Tech Tips – Points to consider starting a New Business’