When approaching the task of starting a website, there are numerous opportunities to become either confused or intimidated by the language involved in the website business. Apart from the multiple synonyms thrown around as if they're supposed to be common sense, many of them are acronyms that sound more like things you'd ask your doctor about than you'd consider using in a professional setting.
In an effort to mitigate the insanity of all those terms that threaten to harsh your creative buzz, here is a (hopefully) helpful definition to put them in perspective:
This is the web address (such as "alavive.com") that people will enter in their browser address bar to find your website. You will often hear it referred to as a "URL" (which stands for "Uniform Resource Locator") or maybe even "URI" ( "Uniform Resource Indicator"), but you only have to remember that URL/URI, Web Address, and Domain Name are all the same thing: the friendly name by which visitors will find your website.
To obtain a domain name, we can go to one of many domain registrars available. Once we find the name (or multiple names) that meet our needs, we then give the registrar money to let us "own" that name (or names) for however-many-years they suggest/require.
- Some legitimate and popular domain registrars offer a variety of services and will try to sell you those services. My clients can rest assured that I will include or make them aware of the services they need. If you do have any questions about offers or suggestions they may make, please contact me.
When you purchase a domain name, your contact information will be added to a registry, called the ICANN WHOIS registry, which, in part, exists to protect website visitors and owners. If you are a business that publishes your contact information on the web, anyway, this is usually not a huge deal. However, if you are not keen to have your contact information listed publicly, you can opt to make your information private. This usually costs extra (though it is free with domains purchased through Google) , because it works by hiding your information behind a proxy service that validates your ownership while only making your contact information available to those with legitimate reasons for seeing it.
- Regardless of whether you have privacy added, you may receive emails or snail mail at any of the addresses listed as domain contacts indicating that you must "renew" your domain name with them. This is a sneaky kind of SPAM that attempts to frighten you into changing registrars. Unless it comes from your existing registrar, you should ignore it (or contact me).
This is where is tends to be a bit confusing (and rightly so!) for some of my clients... Your website is actually a bunch of files that sit on a special computer called a server. This isn't just any computer. It's usually part of a network of computers that are open to receiving and replying to requests from the internet and that all work together to continually get each others' backs, ensuring that your website files are backed up and secure from the less friendly aspects of the internet.
While we just entertained the idea of your domain name as being an "address," your actual website address is a series of numbers and dots (called your Internet Protocol Address) that indicates the location of your website host and where your actual website is on that host server. But, nobody wants to have to remember a series of numbers and dots, and it doesn't do a THING for branding your business. So, we use those domain names/web addresses/URLs we secured to make it easier for visitors to find your site.
In the scheme of things, IP address is like a plat book entry for a property or home, while the domain name is like the physical address of that property.