A domain name and a website are key factors in a digitalized world. However, if you’re a beginner in website development, these technical terms might be confusing.
Therefore, this article will explain the main differences between a domain and a website in simple terms, along with some practical examples. Let’s get started.
The Difference Between a Domain and a Website
Before diving into each term in more detail, let’s discuss the definitions of a domain and website, and explore the key differences between them.
A domain name, or simply domain, acts as a website’s address. It is the substitution for a site’s IP address, which is a set of unique numbers representing the server that a website is hosted on.
Here’s an example of a domain name – https://www.seoblog.com/.
When a user types a domain name into a browser, the browser will look for the relevant IP address of the corresponding website through a Domain Name System (DNS) server in order to load the site.
On the other hand, a website is a group of web pages that falls under the same domain name and is hosted on the same web server. The web pages of a site are also usually characterized by content that’s related to each other.
Examples of popular websites include ebay.com, an eCommerce corporation, and verizon.com, which represents a wireless network operator company.
Domain names and websites are closely related. A domain name exists as a website’s address, while a website needs a domain name to be accessible online.
Also, Read: Who Needs Dedicated Hosting – and Why?
Types of Domain Names
A complete web address consists of a domain name and extension. For example, in the domain https://www.seoblog.com/, seoblog is the domain name and .com is the domain extension.
Often, the domain name’s extension and structure can give you some information about the website. This section will discuss the most popular domain types.
1. Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
Top-level domains refer to domain extensions. There are a lot of them available, with .com being the most popular as 54% of all websites use it.
TLDs fall into three categories:
- Generic top-level domain (gTLD) – there are no specific requirements for choosing gTLDs as a domain extension. Other than .com, other options like .net, .online, and .biz are popular.
- Country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) – this extension consists of letters based on international country codes. For instance, sites from France can use .fr, while ones from the Netherlands may use .nl. ccTLDs are useful for companies who want to localize their websites to a specific country.
- Sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) – these domain extensions are specifically designed for certain types of organizations. To illustrate, .gov is for governmental organizations, whereas .edu is for educational institutions.
2. Second-Level Domain (SLD)
An SLD is an optional, second domain extension that comes after the TLD. Many websites use SLDs to add a country code.
For instance, the University of Oxford’s domain name is ox.ac.uk – which indicates an academic institution in the United Kingdom. Another example is Etude – a cosmetics company from South Korea – with the domain name etude.co.kr.
3. Third-Level Domain
A third-level domain is also called a subdomain. It adds an extra domain name section to the Universal Resource Locator (URL). Subdomains are usually located before the domain name.
A common reason web owners use subdomains is to organize web content into separate categories. For instance, Mozilla uses developer as a subdomain in the URL developer.mozilla.org for web pages offering specific technical content.
Types of Websites
Now that we’ve discussed the types of domain names, let’s look at three examples of popular website types.
This type of website is an online representation of a person’s or organization’s work. Digital portfolios are especially popular with newly-graduated students, freelancers, visual artists, and industry professionals.
If you want to create a digital portfolio to land a job or get hired for a gig, make sure to showcase all of your best work. Depending on your skillset and industry, you can design a portfolio site that resembles a resume, or one that is more image-heavy, like visual journalist Tara Pixley’s site.
Short for web log, a blog is an online journal where a person or business shares regularly published written content. Depending on the purpose, people publish blog posts to share opinions, think pieces, social commentary, reviews, or tutorials.
Popular blog types include:
- Photography blogs
- Travel blogs
- Food blogs
- Movie review blogs
- Health and fitness blogs
This type of website acts as an online store. eCommerce sites enable users to buy and sell physical or digital products. These sites are also characterized by unique features such as a digital catalog, a shopping cart, and a payment gateway.
Some popular examples of eCommerce sites include Amazon.com, an eCommerce marketplace, and Walmart.com. Owing an e-commerce store and managing it may require various people. If you also own an e-commerce store but struggling to generate sales out of it, we’d recommend you to read this article: 7 Game-changing Ecommerce Marketing Strategies. Published by Tada, this article will introduce you to some of the best e-commerce marketing strategies that you can easily adapt.
Registering a Domain Name vs Creating a Website
In this section, we will discuss the points you should consider to register a domain name and create a website.
Domain registration services are regulated under the jurisdiction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). You can buy a domain name from any domain registrar, but it’s best to find one that is accredited by ICANN.
Here are some aspects to consider for domain registration:
- Brainstorm domain names that match your website purpose.
- Consider using keywords, as this helps with your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
- See if your domain name choice is available using domain checker tools.
- Check the domain’s renewal price. Some domain registrars offer lower prices upon registration, then mark it up after a year.
- Verify and configure your domain name to your website. This is necessary, or else your site won’t be accessible online.
Next, let’s discuss the factors you’ll need to create a website:
- Platform – you can use a beginner-friendly website builder or an open-source content management system (CMS) like WordPress.
- Web hosting – this is the service that stores your website files and makes your site available online.
- Domain name – find an accredited domain name registrar to register a website address.
- SSL certificate – an optional but highly recommended add-on to secure and encrypt your website.
Domain names and websites are closely related, but they each have different functions and purposes. While a domain name acts as a website’s address, websites need domain names in order to be accessible by users online.
To recap, here are the three types of domain names:
- Top-level domains
- Second-level domains
- Third-level domains
On the other hand, here are just three examples of the many different website types:
- Digital portfolios
We hope this article has given you a basic understanding of domain names and how it differs from websites. Good luck on your website-building journey.