What's the Difference between a Domain, a Website & Hosting? A Simple, Geek-Free Guide

What's the Difference between a Domain, a Website & Hosting?
If you've never had a website before, the first chat with a web designer can be a bit unnerving. Especially when they casually throw in questions like. "What's your domain name?" and "Have you arranged hosting yet?"

You get that sinking feeling. Don't worry, you are not alone.

This article gives a good overview of what a domain is, how it differs from a website and what hosting is.

What's a domain?

A domain is the www address, also called a web address. It's a unique combination of words (and sometimes numbers) that can be used to find a website on the internet.

You can't have a website without a domain.

There are different domain endings – co.uk, com, org, net, biz etc.

Which ending do I choose?

I'd suggest the following:

For a UK based business that predominantly sells to UK customers - co.uk
Example: If your business is called Acer Plumber and all your business is in the UK, you might choose the domain www.acerplumber.co.uk

For an International company – com
Example: If you operate a holiday let company called Sunny Holibobs with properties in Europe and the US, you might choose the domain www.sunnyholibobs.com

For a UK Charity/not for profit organisation  - org.uk
Example: You run a little charity for llamas called Lonely Llamas you might choose the domain www.lonelyllamas.org.uk

I've chosen the domain I want, what should I do next?

Once you've chosen the address, the domain needs to be registered in your name so that only you can use it.
You can do this yourself through one of the many domain name registrars or leave it to the website designer.

What's the difference between a domain and a website?

A domain and a website are two separate things. Registering a domain does not create a website.
This is because a domain is just an address, nothing more, but it can be set up to be used with an email account and a website.

A website is a collection of linked pages on the internet that display content (e.g.photos, videos and text).
You can see these pages by typing a domain name into a browser (e.g. Google Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer).

A typical website could be made up of the following pages:
- home page
- about page
- products page
- gallery page
- contact page

What is hosting?

The web pages need to be uploaded to an allocated space on the internet where they are stored so that visitors can see them.

Hosting companies rent out web space also called hosting.

Domain, website and hosting in a nutshell

  • A domain is the www address
  • A website is a collection of linked pages that can be accessed via the domain address
  • Hosting is the rented space on the internet where web pages live

Want more?

What is a domain name
Do you have a domain name? Here's what you need to know