Hosting & Domains – What’s The Difference?

What are these things really, and do you need both to have a website?

As a web designer, I often get asked to explain the difference between a domain name and hosting and if you need both to have a website. Often, the client asking me will look a little sheepish, as if they think they should already know the answer. I can assure you that many people don’t know the basics, so I’m going to break it down for you. I promise, once you learn it this way, it’ll be easy to remember!

There are three parts to every website:

1. The Website itself
(which includes the design, code, and all of your content)

2. The Web Hosting
(actually just a server, or big computer, where your website files are stored)

3. The Domain Name
(what you type in the browser to get to your site –

So here’s a little analogy that helped me when I was first learning about this stuff:

Think about the entire website like your house.

1. The Website is the house itself.

2. The Web Hosting is the land the house sits on.

3. And the Domain Name is the address you give to people so they know where to go to find your house!

And speaking of domain names, picking one is super important. Owning is paramount to owning your brand online. I have even counseled actors to choose a union name based on what is available as a domain name. It’s that important.