Domain name is the physical address of your website that people type in their web browser. Looking at it in housing terminology, if your website is the house then your domain name is the address to the house. Similar to how every house address can also be seen as longitude and latitude on a map, your domain name can also be seen as an IP address (example – 18.104.22.168). But rather than having you remember a bunch of numbers and dots here and there, starterdev.com is much simpler.
Enter a domain name in web browser
(you placing a request)
Sends request to Domain Name System
(DNS, global network of servers)
DNS looks up name servers related to the domain and forwards the request to them
Name servers, managed by your hosting company, forward your request to the web server
(computer where your website is stored)
Web server gathers all the information about your website
Sends the data back to your browser
You have your website right in front of you
You purchase domain names from a domain name registry such as Namecheap, Hover, Rebel & domain.com.
The average .com domain name can cost about 15-20 USD per year. You also have premium domain names that can cost as much as $500 USD per year. Once you buy a domain name you can now setup your custom emails and also get to use as many sub-domains as you want, without having to pay for each as a separate domain name. Each sub-domain can also point to entirely different websites. A perfect example of this will be google.com, but you are likely familiar with drive.google.com, photos.google.com, maps.google.com or news.google.com etc.
Using the same analogy of domain names being the equivalent of your home address, then web hosting is the location your home occupies. For example, how it might be more expensive to build a house downtown than it will to build it on the outskirts of the city, you have WordPress hosting that is more expensive than shared hosting. Meanwhile, the website itself is how the home looks to everyone.
To properly define the terms,
Domain name: is the address of your website; Hover, domain.com
Web Hosting: is the home where your website lives. This is the computer where your website files are stored. The computers are called servers and are offered by hosting companies; FlyWheel, Namecheap
Website: can be made up of HTML pages, website builder software, images, CSS, and so on.
They serve entirely different purposes and you can’t avoid getting one without the other. You require both a domain name and web hosting in order to create a live website users can use. You can get all these from different companies but nowadays you have companies such as Wix and Squarespace that have merged all three into one.
Now a simple, yet complicated, question I always get is: if I can create a website by myself using companies such as Wix and Squarespace then why exactly are web design/web development companies needed? The simple answer is restriction, these companies place a variety of restrictions on your capabilities to design/develop a feature advanced website by yourself. They just focus on the straight forward aspect of the design/development process and help the average everyday user not feel the need to break the bank to build a website. A more complicated answer is, you can’t build Facebook or Twitter using such platforms, you would need an expert.