A beginners guide to websites, hosting and domains. How building a website is like building a home.
When you are first starting out with websites, it can be pretty daunting learning all of the terminology. Eg. “Why do I need Hosting? What is a URL? How do I keep my website secure?”.
In many ways there are parallels to building a home, so we have created this analogy to better understand what is involved with building a website and the terminology involved.
This example will use WordPress, on “self ‘hosting”.
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is like your parcel of digital land. It is where you have the permission to build your site. You lease the “digital land” from web hosting providers. “Self Hosting” refers to leasing your own hosting rather than using a service like Wix or Squarespace.
Note: you do not own your parcel of land, merely lease it – usually on a month to month or year to year basis. Web hosting will provide you an IP address on which to build.
Web Hosting = Land
What is a website IP address?
The IP address is similar to a house lot number. It is a series of numerals and dots eg Google.com is located at 220.127.116.11. An IP address just tells you where about in cyber space your “parcel of land” is located.
Similarly, when you purchase a physical piece of land, you buy a lot number within a suburb, town, city etc.
Neither are what the public sees when they look for your website or house. That’s where web domains (URL’s) come in.
IP Address = House Lot Number
What is a web domain name (or URL)?
A Web Domain Name or URL is similar to your house Street Address. Its what everyone sees when they search for you. In the example above you see Googles URL (google.com) you don’t see the numbers and dots of the IP address.
Similarly when someone comes over to your house, they don’t look for “Lot 79”. They will look for eg. 1 Brisbane St, Brisbane, Australia 4000.
Web Domain (URL) = Street Address
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
WordPress is a very popular example of a CMS and its acts like the “foundations” of your house. You install it onto your web hosting at your domain name (URL). Much like you would pour a concrete slab onto your land at your street address.
CMS (eg WordPress) = Foundations
What is a WordPress Theme?
A Theme acts like the “frame” of your house. A good theme also acts like the bricks and mortar, tiles and design. A good theme will intuitively provide the structure by which you can add on all of your personal touches like colours, images and text.
Where the analogy stops is that a good theme will load quickly and be mobile friendly.
WordPress Theme = Frame, Structure and Design
What are Plug-ins?
Plugins help to “fit out” your site. Think of them like cupboards, kitchen appliances, benchtops, sinks, baths, etc. Why we like WordPress so much, is that there is usually a plug in for anything that you can think of to add functionality and design to your site.
Plugins = Fit Out
What is an SSL Certificate
An SSL Certificate is a level of security for your site. Think of it like the front door lock. It is standard to have an SSL certificate for your site and search engines like Google will rank your site much lower if you dont have one. SSL certificates come free with our hosting. However SSL certificates are not the be all and end all of security for your website. You need many other measures to help secure your site, as we have previously written about here
SSL Certificate = Front Door Lock