Domain Names and Web Hosting Explained

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domain names web hosting explained

When we start a web design project with a client, it’s not uncommon to find that the part of the project they don’t understand, or at least confuses them the most, is when we ask questions such as, ‘Do you have a Domain Name already?’ or ‘Would you like us to Host your website?’ So we thought it would be a good opportunity to explain some of the terminologies you may encounter when working with websites or online – as well as some others we thought we’d share.

Here at Pair Creative, we take care of all the technical aspects of setting up a website, making it easier for our customers. We guide you through everything you need to know, so you can concentrate on enjoying the process of seeing your website development. If you would like to know more about our digital and design projects, feel free to contact us.

When you start any website project, the first two items you will need to decide on before you progress are your Domain Name and Hosting. So lets start by addressing what these are, why these are required and how you register/purchase them.


What is a domain name?

In simple terms, a domain name is the name of your website and is the address in which users are directed to when they enter this name in the form of a URL. Few people will know, but a domain is actually a string of numbers that is assigned to a unique space (also known as an IP address). To make it easier for users to access websites, some clever people decided that instead of users needing to remember this number, a name (Domain Name) would be assigned to it instead.

A domain name is not the same as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). A domain name is only part of a larger address called a ‘URL’. A URL goes into more detail than a domain name, allowing more information to be provided to the web page such as, folder name, machine name, and language (e.g. http://, .co.uk)

As long as your domain name is made up of letters, numbers, and hyphens, it can be whatever you like (with the exception of a few minor rules or geographic restrictions). It’s unique to you and no two can be the same (domain extensions such as .co.uk, .com and .net are classed as ‘different to each other).

So you’ve decided what you would like your domain name to be, but now what do you do? The next stage is ensuring it is available and ‘Registering‘ it.


Domain Registration – What is it and how do you register a domain name?

As mentioned earlier, a domain name is a process of assigning a ‘name’ to an IP address and intern making it easier to remember. This process requires the domain name to be registered to the IP address. (the same way you register a business name). A domain name must be registered before it can be used and only when it is registered will it have an actual location on the internet. Domain names are usually registered for one to two years on an automatic renewal contract. To register a domain name you need to use the services of a Domain Registrar, such and Fasthosts, 1&1 or GoDaddy. For a fee (monthly or annually), a Domain Registrar will ensure when someone enters your domain name in the form or a URL, they will be directed to the correct place, in this case, your website.


What is Web Hosting?

You have chosen your domain name, you have it registered with a domain registrar, and so what’s next? To actually display your website to users, you need to set up Web Hosting for your website. Web Hosting is the process of buying space on large specialist computers called servers, which allow your website’s files to be accessed from anywhere. You achieve this by purchasing the services from a Web Host (also known as a hosting company, or web hosting service provider).


What Is A Web Host?

A Web Host is a company that provides the services required for a website to be viewed on the Internet when a URL is entered by a user. A Web Host provides you with a Web Hosting package, which allows you the physical space on their servers, to store the files that make your website work, as well as the bandwidth that accommodates the information flow that takes place on your behalf. You will pay them a fee for hosting your site and in most cases, an email service that comes with this package.


Now we have our website up and running, here are a few other website terms, which may come in useful:

What is a Server?

A server is a large specialist computer used to hold and store files required for websites and emails. Servers ensure your website is displayed on the internet. These servers are provided by a Web Host who has the responsibility of ensuring they are maintained on a regular basis and a permanent connection to the internet is maintained.


What is HTML?

HTML stands for ‘HyperText Mark-up Language’ and is the language used when creating websites. Examples of HTML coding language are; <body>, <p>, <h1>, <img src>. Emails can also be produced in HMTL and can be recognised by the use of different fonts, colours, borders, backgrounds and graphics. The alternative to this is a plain text email.


What are Cookies?

A Cookie is a small piece of information that certain websites store on a users computer. They hold a small amount of data specific to a particular user, in reference to their website. Because they are stored on the users’ computer rather than the website itself, it allows the website (when it is next visited), to load quicker and can also be customised to ‘recognise’ the user and their preferences whilst on the site. They are also used for tracking visitors. The downside of cookies is that after you have visited a lot of sites with a lot of graphics, it can have an effect on your computer’s memory, so it’s a good idea to delete them after a while.


What is CMS?

CMS stands for ‘Content Management System’. A CMS refers to a website that is dynamic and is generally database-driven. It allows the user to access a ‘Back End’ via a login facility, which will allow them to edit and manage the website themselves. This allows users who may not have any ‘coding’ knowledge to add text and images to a website as you would with a simple word document. A WordPress site is a good example of a CMS Website.


What is a Browser?

A browser is a piece of software used to view websites on the internet. A website is made up of code and looks very different to how you view it through a browser. A browser translates this code, by decoding it into text, colours and images, to make up what you see as a website (The large image at the top of this article is what you would see if a browser did not do it’s job). Common web browsers are, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.


What is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation‘ and refers to the practice of maximising the number of visitors to a particular website by tweaking website code and content to achieve the highest possible search engine ranking.


What is a Favicon?

Favicons are tiny icons displayed in the web address bar next to the web address. They’re either 8-bit or 24-bit in colour depth and are saved in either .ico, .gif or .png file formats.


Here at Pair Creative, we take care of all the technical aspects of setting up a website, making it easier for our customers. We guide you through everything you need to know, so you can concentrate on enjoying the process of seeing your website development. If you would like to know more about our digital and design projects, feel free to contact us.

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