We often get asked ‘what is a domain?’ and for good reason. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what a domain actually is, so let’s take a look.
What is a domain? #
In very simple terms, a domain can be thought of as the address of a website. You type it into a search bar and are taken to the website.
For instance, our domain is ‘prystine.co.uk’ and if you type that into your search bar you will be directed to our website – please do feel free to give it go!
The technical explanation…
The location information is usually in the form of IP addresses of web servers.
So instead of typing in an IP address (which would be a string of numbers e.g. 188.8.131.52) to find a website, a domain means you just have to type in a word or two followed by its extension (e.g. prystine.co.uk). Isn’t that just so much easier to remember?
What they are not #
Let’s de-myth the most common misconceptions and set the record straight:
- Domains are not websites.
- Domains are not website hosting.
- Domains are not URLs – more on this below.
All they do is just hold information on how to get to a website or web service (e.g. emails).
Seeing a domain in action #
Figure #1 below allows you to see how domains work in a real life example. It breaks down a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – the whole website address – and highlights key areas.
Brief explanations of the terms above:
- Protocol is the function used to fetch the website data. Commonly http:// or https://.
- Domain: as above.
- page slug is the unique identifier of your webpage.
- URL is essentially the whole website address. It’s made up of the above three bullets.
Why you need a domain #
You’ll need one if you want to have a website because it will store all the information on how your visitors will find your website.