What Makes a Website? Domain Names, Hosting Services and Websites Explained For Non-Geeks
In the past we have written about how your website is designed and built. But what is a website exactly? What happens after we design and build your site? Do we have a sparkly “Internet button” that we press which magically publishes you on the web? We wish we had such a thing, but sadly, we don’t. It’s a bit more complicated than that, so for the next couple of weeks we’re going to spend some time explaining domain names, hosting services and websites for you. Today we have a brief overview of all three before we go into more detail later on.
Let’s dig in!
You need three things to make a website: domain name, web host and a topic. Knowing what your website is about helps you determine what your domain name will be, so the topic has to come first. It’s the main idea for the site, after all! A domain name is a friendly web address that’s used to direct people to your website across the web. It’s a lot like using someone’s first and last name to look up a phone number. On the Internet, you use your domain name to help people find your page or site.
You can get a domain name through a company that specializes in registering web addresses. These companies are called Domain Registrars. The basic requirements are that you have some cash (registration is inexpensive, but not free) and that the domain name isn’t already taken by someone else.
Web hosting services are a lot like the business district landlords of the online world. A web hosting service provides you with the ability to display your website on the web much like a landlord will provide you with a place to storefront your business.
Typically, webspace is rented on a yearly, quarterly or monthly basis. There are three main components of renting webspace:
1. The space itself, which is a file system containing all of the data of the site. The size of your site must fit within the total storage space granted by the host.
2. Bandwidth is what allows the server to send information downstream to clients visiting the site. Bandwidth has two additional properties associated with it—the rate and the total amount. The rate is how fast data can flow from the webhost (usually a hard limit), while the total amount defines how much data can flow in total for a given period (usually one billing cycle).
3. The “horsepower” of the server which the site runs on. Certain scenarios also require a minimum level of computer power on the host side.
Depending on the design of your site, you may need additional storage space, additional bandwidth, additional horsepower, or all three. As your requirements grow, from increased traffic for example, the webhost company will provide a method to migrate your website to newer, faster servers with larger bandwidth and more storage space to handle the increased amount of work.
A website is made up of site files (images, videos, copy) that visitors to your site actually see when they visit you. These files are what take up space on the host, which has to have enough capacity to contain them. The web hosting server reads these files, and uses them to display the site on the browser’s computer. At GLAD WORKS, we create websites, which are the framework and the content of the site itself. Depending on the project scope, GLAD WORKS will also help you purchase your domain name as well as renting space/bandwidth from a hosting service.
Next week we’re going to go into more depth about web hosting servers and all the details you need to be aware of when making decisions about what kinds of hosting will suit your needs most. See you next week!
While talking about web hosting, you should have mentioned different types of web hosting and their pros and cons. This is an area where most of the people get confused.