Confused by all the terms about having a website?

Houses of all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Clients needing website design have had a little trouble understanding the different pieces that need to fit together for them to have a functioning website.  Different things to register and pay for, but they all need to be working in lock step.  Luckily, there isn't much confusion about how social media inherently works, though doing it right is something for a different blog post.

Let me focus on 3 terms: domain, web hosting, and website.

Now everyone knows what a website is (after all, you're on one right now).  And while I don't typically advocate discussing "how the sausage gets made", how it fits in with the other terms mentioned earlier will be beneficial in putting some nagging doubts to rest.

I will use an analogy about a typical house.  All houses have a few things in common, like having an address and land it was built on.  This is how a house relates to web terms:


A domain, like "" is like a house's address.  It is how people find you.  It is how the internet figures out how to connect a computer to the computer where your website is.

Actually, a domain is more portable than a house's address.  Think of it like your cell phone number.  It doesn't matter where you got your phone number or where you phone is, your number will always reach your phone, and if you change carrier or move to another state, it will STILL reach you.

Web Hosting

Your web host, like the services offered by Squarespace, GoDaddy, Wix, etc., is like the land a house is built on.  The address takes you here, regardless of what is on the land, if anything.  It's really another computer, somewhere out in the Internet, owned typically by a company that maintains it.


You've got an address (domain), and a piece of land (web host), so what do you do with it?  You build a house!  Your website is the house built on the land found by the address.  Like real houses, it can be of any size, color, etc.  But it's yours, so make it great.

So, in summary, your website is a house.  Your web host is the land the house is built on.  Your domain is the address of the house.  Put them together, and a person's computer can find another computer on the internet, and that computer can present the website.  And then, you do business.

--Your Neighborly Designer Man at Up A Notch Design