What is the difference between a website and a domain name? Is it the same thing? Is URL a domain name? Do you need a domain name to have a website? Let’s settle this once and for all!
What is a domain name?
When people first started connecting computers in networks, you were required to type a unique numeric code to visit a host or a network. Those codes are called Internet Protocol addresses, or IP addresses. By the early 1980s, as the number of computers and networks grew, it was getting increasingly harder to remember and communicate all those IP addresses. This is how the DNS – Domain Name System came into existence. Computer scientists created a system where you can register a domain name that is made of easily readable letters and numbers and direct it towards your IP address. Soon after the top level domain extensions were created to serve different categories of domains – .com as short for « commercial » to serve commercial organizations, .edu – for education related entities, .gov – for government institutions and a few others.
URL stands for « Universal Resource Locator » and is the complete web address used to find a particular web page on a website. A URL always contains a domain name and then the other parts of the address, needed to locate precisely the specific content you are aiming to reach.
A website is a collection of files – text and images. There are different programming languages that we use to define how that content displays to the website visitors.
When the internet first came about the average website was used more like a business card – to display contact information like email, telephone numbers, address and some basic company information. This has drastically changed over the years to a point where the most valuable and profitable brands nowadays operate almost completely online. Some of them are completely web based, like Google or Amazon, others use their online presence to present and sell their services and products. For many businesses today their website *is* their business.