The 3 Basics For Every Website
This article was originally written for ArrowQuick Solutions, a technology consultancy for small businesses.
If you are starting a new business, a website can be a critical part of your marketing or operations. The way the internet works can be complicated, and most business owners (understandably) don’t want to worry about the underlying technology that is running their websites. They simply want to know “How do I get my business online?”
Every website essentially needs 3 components:
The domain name is the “dot-com” (or dot-org, dot-net, etc.) that visitors will type in their browsers to reach your site. Without domain names, websites would only be accessible through the internet’s numbering system. (For example, 126.96.36.199 is one of the addresses for Google.)
Your domain name is what people will see on their computers and your marketing materials, so a good name is vital to your business’ success. Because many .com, .net, .org and other domains have been registered in the past 15 years, new top-level domains (such as .info, .mobi, and .name) are constantly being added. Your web developer or web host should be able to tell you if a given name is available and offer suggestions.
You’ve got a domain name, but where will your website be stored? This is where a hosting provider comes in. Hosting companies maintain web servers to store and “serve” your website to people who want to see it. Although it sounds simple, good hosts make sure that your website is secure, stable, and scalable.
Other hosting services, such as email, are usually included or available with your website hosting.
Every website is made of the pages and files that your visitors will see. This is the part that people typically think of when you mention “web development” or “web design”. Although the minimum requirements for a website are very low, larger websites may use technologies that are not supported by all hosting services. Be sure that your hosting will support the files being developed for the site, and that your web developer knows the limitations of the hosting provider.
You can imagine your website as being similar to your house.
- The domain name is like your house’s address: it tells visitors how to find you.
- The hosting is like the land your house sits on: it provides a physical location with utilities such as water and electricity available.
- The website files are like your house itself: a unique structure filled with the stuff you want visitors to see and experience.
Web companies will often combine some or all of these parts into a single package for ease of manageability or lower cost, but there are no technical reasons why they can’t be separate. From our own experiences with clients, it helps a lot to be able to have a single company manage the various pieces needed to make a website run smoothly.