The Difference Between a Domain and a Website


Posted on: June 30, 2020

When you're just starting your new venture into creating websites, it can be confusing. You have a lot of new terminology to explore and you're getting bombarded with a wide array of new tools to build your website. It can certainly be overwhelming.

One concept that can really confuse new web designers is what the difference is between a website and a domain. It can seem like they mean the same thing, and makes it difficult to set up your new website.

These are somewhat two hard things to compare. The term "Website" can almost have a more broader meaning, while a "Domain" refers to one specific part of a website. To fully understand what's going on here, we'll need to take a step back to see how the internet works between all these moving parts.

The Basics of Websites and Domains

Understanding The Basics of Websites

Starting to grasp how the internet and websites work when you're new to all this is somewhat daunting. But websites really aren't complicated once you can understand how a website is set up.

To get your website up and running on the internet, you'll need two things: A Hosting Account and a Domain Name.

Uploading your website to your domain

What is a Hosting Account

If you are creating a new website, you are going to need somewhere to store your website. This is a safe place for you to put all your website's files and information so that your visitors can view them. A host has servers that are basically mini computers that are constantly running to keep your website files up and viewable.

Your hosting company will assign your website to one of their servers, each of which has their own unique IP address.

What is a domain name

What is a domain

Every website is actually hosted at an IP address. An IP address is a 10 digit combination of numbers. This is a random number that is assigned to your server from your host.

The IP number is kind of like your street address: It's a way for people to find you. But it would be pretty annoying if every website was only accessible by typing in a ten digit combination.

Instead we can just match an IP address to a domain. This simply means "Dear browser, when people want to find, this is the server where that's hosted." It's a much easier way to connect everybody to the websites they're trying to find.

How a domain is connected to the internet

How a domain connects to the Internet

When the browser sees the domain name you want to visit, it searches for the correct IP address, finds the server with that IP address, it looks for the code or files of the website, then displays the website to you (the user).

A domain name is really just a very nice way of remembering where the website is being hosted. The internet would be a much more complicated place if it was only run by IP addresses.

Connecting domain to website

How a Website is Connected to a Domain

A "Website" is a fairly broad term. In this instance, we are referring to the page that displays to you when you use your browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc).

A website consists of a bunch of files that contain the code of the website. These files need to exist somewhere, and that's why you always hear about a website being hosted somewhere. The website host is the place that keeps all these files stored for you so people can view them.

People view these files by typing in your domain name, then your website files are displayed to the user by your host.

Is there a difference between a website and a domain?

So are a website and a domain different?

Yes they are different, but they are connected in a way that make them part of the grander scheme of the internet. One cannot really exist without the other. If you have a website, you're going to have a domain. And if you have a domain, you need to have some sort of website for people to view.

They work together to bring us the websites we all know and love today.