Thursday, March 22, 2018

Website Terminology & What you Need to Know

Websites are an important asset to any business and are a great way to share information about your brand. Some of the many benefits a website provides are:
  • Always being available so anyone with an internet connection can access it
  • Providing people with your information when it is convenient for them
  • The ability to create either a simple and reasonably priced website or hire a web designer to create something more complex or anything in between based on your budget
  • The ability to easily make changes and update information
  • The ability to add a cart to a website to sell products
  • The recurring costs to keep the website are minimal yet thousands of users can access the information at the same time
With all the many benefits a website provides, it is important to understand the different terminology surrounding websites and their underlying infrastructure before diving in.

Website Terminology & What you Need to Know

The purpose of the following information is to provide a better understanding of the terms used when creating and maintaining a website. Knowing how the underlying pieces work together will help you make the best decisions for your business and your website. 

All the web pages you build and publish collectively form your website. A website is a conglomerate of pages that should have the same coloring scheme, font types, voice and more. The purpose of this is to provide a fluid presence to users so the information flows well rather than them wondering if they are on more than one website.

Domains are purchased but never fully owned. As long as the domain subscription is renewed, in increments of years, temporary ownership is maintained.  Absolute and forever ownership of a domain is not possible. As a result, new domains can be purchased and irrelevant domains can also be released when they are no longer necessary.

A domain is the way people locate you on the internet. Typically a domain is a representation of a business name, or some form of it, making it easy for people to find the business website. If your business name is Princess Dog Grooming, searching for a domain name like princessdoggrooming to see what is available would be more appropriate than searching for doggroomersoftexas. 

When searching for a domain name, it is best practice to keep the name as simple as possible while matching the business name. Also, be sure to document where the domain was purchased and the expiration date so you are prepared when the renewal comes.

URL stands for Universal Resource Locator. The URL for your website includes the second and top level domains. While it is not common for people to refer to them this way, it is important to note the difference. For instance, our URL is The .com is the top level domain and eyonic is the second level domain. 

The second level domain name is what you search for when planning to create a new website. The results show if that domain name is available and with which top level domains like .com, .org, .us, etc.

WordPress, Drupal, SquareSpace, etc.
WordPress, Drupal, SquareSpace and others are software tools that allow people who are not web designers to easily build their own websites. They are popular because they allow virtually anyone to create their own website by providing ready-made themes and widgets that easily add forms, images, video and other content. Hosting that supports website building software tools costs more per month while reducing the up-front costs that building a website typically generates.

DNS, or domain naming system, is a naming system applied to computers and other devices connected to the internet. This system is responsible for translating domains to their respective IP or Internet Protocol addresses. Each website on the internet is associated with an IP address that is unique to that website, much like each home in each city has a unique address that the postal office manages. DNS was created because it would be very tedious to remember strings of numbers in this format - - for each website you wanted to visit. 

Knowing what IP address is associated with your website is typically only needed in 2 situations:

  1. When the DNS hosting is being moved from one hosting company to another
  2. When the website is being moved from one hosting site to another
While we do not see the process, DNS runs in the background constantly translating the website URLs we request into their corresponding IP addresses to provide us with results. To be able to do this, companies like Network Solutions, as well as others, host DNS records so every device on the internet can find each website. DNS hosting is another cost associated with having a website, and it is important to document who manages this for you and when it expires so you are prepared when the renewal comes. 

Website hosting is provided by companies and includes the process of either building a website with a hosting company or uploading/transferring an existing website to a new hosting company. Hosting fees are often paid annually, for a reduced rate, but can typically be paid monthly as well. 

There are many sites that host websites such as GoDaddy, Wix, and 1&1. Choosing a host is a personal choice, but be sure to compare more than just pricing. It can also be important to know how much traffic is included with the hosting plan, the guaranteed up-time for your website, and the hosting site's reputation. Whomever you choose, be sure to document who hosts your website and when the hosting expires.

In summary, understanding some of the terms associated with hosting a website is helpful when making changes or considering building a new website. While you do not need to understand all the inner workings, knowing where your DNS records are hosted, where the website is hosted, and where you purchased your domain name are critical pieces of information that should be documented and protected. Always be sure to maintain control over these items as it will make it much easier to make a change if you ever need to.

The three pieces of a website that have recurring fees are:  the domain name, website hosting, and DNS record hosting. These can often all be done by the same company, but that is not required and having hosting with different companies does not change the response time of the website itself.

As always, knowing what your options are can make all the difference!

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