The building blocks of a website: Domains, Hosting, CMS & all that.

by | Dec 1, 2014 | Uncategorized

I like illustrations. They help me understand things. So let’s use one to help get our heads around all this website stuff.

Let’s build a house.


The Plot = Hosting

When you go to build a house, you need a piece of dirt to build it on. Unless you have some benevolent uncle, typically you pay for the land. And if you’re in Australia, you pay too much, but that’s beside the point. So this piece of land is like the hosting and you buy (or rent) your piece of land from a hosting provider. And just like in building, if you need/want a bigger bit of land, you pay more. Payments are usually arranged as monthly or annual payments so in a way it is a bit like you’re renting the land.


The Address = Domain

So you buy your piece of virtual dirt form a hosting provider, and then you need to register an address so people know where to drive to when they come visit. So your house address is just like your domain. In fact, that’s pretty much why they call it a web address. You’ll often hear domain, address, URL used interchangeably. Technically they mean slightly different things though. For example. = domain, where = URL. Think of a URL as a house address plus instructions on how to find the bathroom.

So we’ve bought a plot of land and have stuck a letter box in the ground out near the drive way. Time to build the house.


CMS = Building Materials

So you decide you want to build a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house. With a pool. And a pool room. And a shed. Maybe a double height sitting area. Also, scope to extend easily in the future. The requirements of your house will determine the building materials needed. Sort of the same with your website. If you want your website to be ‘dynamic’, meaning add and change things over time, you’ll need a system, or a content management system (CMS), to handle it. A simple example of this would be a company blog. You’ll need a CMS like WordPress to facilitate this type of building.


Web Designer = Architect

So you have your land, address and list of requirements. Off to the architect to design the dream home. This is where a good web designer shines. They capture all the needs you have for your website and draw up the designs. This process varys depending on the designer and scope of the project. They can involve wire-framing, sort of like blueprints, or just go straight to designing exactly what will be seen on the screen.


Web Developer = Builder

Once the designs are ready to go and all the materials are defined. The web developer takes it all and turns it in to a functioning building. They’ll take the chosen CMS and provided designs, and build the thing out. And like with builders, every web developer has his or her preferred tools of the trade.


So that’s the way I sort of see it. It’s probably not an iron-clad illustration, and just like a building, no website is the same. But for the sake of understanding the basics, I hope this helps


Do you have any thoughts or questions on this? Comments section below is all yours.

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