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What’s the Difference Between a Domain and a Website?

Your domain is the name, or address, while your website is a collection of linked files, images, and content.

What Is A Domain Name?

A domain name is the address people use to access your website. It’s an address that is way more easier to remember than a bunch of seemingly random numbers…which is what’s actually happening in the background. 

Every website on the internet is stored on some type of server. (Read this if you’re interested in learning more about different types of servers). That server is always connected to the internet (unless the server company is awful). 

Every device connected to the internet has a unique address that identifies itself. That unique address is called an IP address. IP stands for ‘Internet Protocol’, but you don’t have to worry about that. 

Those IP addresses either look like this: or sometimes look like something even more awful like this: 2606:4700:4700::1111.

Those numbers are difficult to remember. So to make things simpler, the Elders of the Internet (joke) set up another kind of server called a Domain Name System (DNS). We’re on the edge of techno-nerd overload, so to keep it simple, the role of the DNS server is to take a domain name (an address with words) and connect it to the server (an address with numbers). 

That way, all you need to remember is instead of Cool, right?

Every device connected to the internet has a unique address that identifies itself.

What Is A Website?

A website is a collection of code, pages, pictures, and content that is stored on a server. When you visit a website with your browser (Chrome, Safari, etc.) your browser and the server work together to turn that code into a nicely displayed page that you can view in an organized manner. 

There are many different types of code. Some code, like HTML, CSS, and Javascript are processed by your browser. While other codes like PHP, MySQL are processed by the server. 

All Together Now

This is a simple version of what happens when you visit a website.

  1. Using your browser, you type in the name of the website you want to visit.
  2. The domain checks what DNS the domain is connected to, then sends the browser to the web server.
  3. The server receives the browser’s connection request then sends the requested webpage to the browser.
  4. The browser displays the code in a way a normal human person can read it.

Now, you don’t have to have a masterly level understanding of this. But understanding the general concept will be helpful when your development team asks you things like “Who is your web host?” or “Where is your domain registered?” 

If an analogy would be more helpful, check out Your Website Is Like A House.

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