Thanks for checking out our explainer videos where we attempt to make complex web topics easy to understand. This video is part of our “What’s in a Website?” series and is actually the first video in the series where I’ll give you a basic overview of what’s in a website.
The three main part of a website are an account with a hosting provider, site address or domain, and the site contents. But it can be hard to wrap your head around technical terms like these, so let start with a real-life example that’s easier to understand – a house.
If you wanted to own a house, you’d probably start looking at real estate listings organized by address. And the address is what most people think of first when they think about getting a website, too. But it’s not the most basic part of a site.
With a house, the most basic part is the piece of property the house sits on, it’s space in the world. Well in the world-wide web, this space isn’t a 100-foot by 200-foot lot, its storage space on a server connected to the internet. This is what people are accessing when they go to your site.
You get this space by renting it from a company that manages one of these servers. This is called hosting and is typically billed on a monthly basis.
Once you have your space, you have to give people a way to get there. If we’re talking about a house this is accomplished with a street address – a set of easy to remember numbers and letters that are registered as a way to refer to your property.
A website is much the same. You use a registration company to claim domain address which usually some word or phrase like “yoursite” and a suffix like “.com”. Then you point that domain to your hosting company and now people have a way to get to your site. This registration is renewed every year by paying a yearly fee.
But having a piece of property and an address isn’t enough to entertain guests. You have to have an actual building with stuff in it. In the same way, your hosting space has to have all your content and a way to organize and provide that content for visitors. This is actually the most critical and time-consuming part of setting up a website.
Most websites today are created using something known as a content management system or CMS. This is a piece of software sits on your server and creates pages for your site as they’re needed. We’ll explain more about CMSs and other options for building a site in a later part of the series.
So that’s the basic parts of your “house” on the web. hosting (like a property), a domain (like an address), and the site contents (like a building and all the stuff in it).