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The Parts of a Website, Domain and Hosting Explained

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The basic parts of any website does not begin with the eye-catching logos, text, pictures or videos that most of us focus on. It starts with the ‘bits and pieces’ that make up the internet as we know it today. Even a simple website is comprised of the very fabric of the internet that has revolutionised the way we communicate and gather information. It is therefore essential to understand the basic parts of any website.

Domain

Some call it the website address, other refer to it as the URL or link, but the correct term is the domain. This is essentially the name of your website. It does not always have to start with a www. as is commonly thought but has to end with a recognised suffix like co.za or .com. Your domain can be any combination of alphabets or numbers as well as a dash but no other characters are allowed.

Internet addresses are usually four numbers separated by full stops (periods). Most of us will never remember these numbers so the domain was created. Every time you enter a domain in your browser, like medicalwebsites.co.za, your browser checks a registry for the exact internet address and routes your browser to a specific location on a server. There is no need to remember the numbers.

The ‘right’ domain is not only easy to remember and great for branding but also gives your website better visibility on search engines like Google.

Hosting

A domain on its own is not worth much if it does not have a website to direct to. However, a website first needs a place to exist and this is known as the hosting. It is a small portion of disk space on a massive server (nothing more than an overgrown hard drive). If we use a simple analogy, your domain is the street address that you own and the hosting is the land that you rent. Unlike the real world, the address (domain) and land (hosting) are separate.

Server space (hosting) is rented on a monthly basis and has two features that are important to know – the disk space and the bandwidth. The disk space is essentially how many megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB) that you are renting and can therefore cuse. It includes the space for your website and all your email addresses. The bandwidth is the amount of data that can pass to and from the server and is also measured in MB and GB.

Once again, imagine the disk space to be the property size and bandwidth as the number of people that can enter and exit the property in a month.

Website and Email

After a domain is registered and directed to the allocated hosting, it is time to ‘do something’ with it all. A website is essentially the building on your property (hosting). Its purpose is to convey vital information to visitors to the website as well as to fulfil some other function, depending on your business needs.

The appearance of a website is just as important as the content on it. ‘First impressions last forever’ and this is particularly true on the internet. As discussed under the anatomy of a medical website, your content and layout is equally important. However, not every business may require a website at the outset, especially if it is yet to be launched.

Email is a separate facility from a website although it also requires a domain and hosting. You could think of it as the post box at the border of a property. It is not necessary to have a building (website) on a property. You could have the post box (email) on its own.

Custom domain emails are based on the domain it is associated with, for example info @ medicalwebsites.co.za is our custom email on our domain. It is far more professional than using GMail or Hotmail for your business communication and provides a sense of trust and reputability between you and your patients.

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