Q: I hate to admit it but I don’t even understand about domains, hosting, certificates, let alone IP addresses, registrar, and all the rest of the techy word-stuffs that go along with building a website. Could you PLEASE explain, in plain English, what each of these things are so I can get a grasp on them?

~ Tech-less

A: It’s quite understandable that you are clueless about these things, Tech-less! However, if you hire someone to build a website for you, there are certain questions you will need to understand enough to provide needed information. So let’s get to it:

Registrar: This is the service you purchased your domain name from, such as GoDaddy or Namecheap.

Domain Name: Your domain is quite simply the name you purchased, such as MyWebGal.com, which was purchased via GoDaddy.

Certificates: The main certificates you are probably most interested in are for security. One is called an SSL, which stands for Secure Socket Layer and it is designed to protect your visitors’ information that they share with you via your website, particularly financial information. The security mechanism encrypts data so it can’t be easily read by those not involved in the sharing of info. The second type is called TLS (Transport Layer Security), which is believed to be stronger protection than SSL. Either way they protect data transferring across the web.

Hosting: Here’s super simple way to look at this… Hosting is where your website resides. Not unlike where you live only most of us are only renting space on the web for our websites. Think of your website as an RV, meaning you can move your website whenever you want but the hosting space stays where it is with whatever service provider you chose. You own your domain name (if you keep up the payments), you don’t own the hosting.

An IP address (IP = Internet Protocol) is the similar to your domain name but is a set of specific (assigned) numbers that identify your website DNS (Domain Name Servers), basically the location of the server you rent space on. While you and I don’t need to use IP addresses to find websites, Internet protocols as these are needed for computers, browsers, etc. So, don’t worry about IP addresses. If a tech person needs to know, they can easily find it inside your registrar account. If they need the info but don’t know how to find the IP, let ’em go!

URL: This is an address that contains a domain name and allows for sub pages as an extension, such as a blog or about page: MyWebGal.com/blog, MyWebGal.com/about — and so on.

So, to sum it up…

  • A domain name is like your name, it is simply identification
  • Hosting is the space where you’ve parked your RV (inferring your site is moveable)
  • Certificates are for security measures designed to protect your visitors information
  • IPs are address numbers you don’t need to worry about (unless something goes awry)
  • URLs are addresses to particular sites and site pages

I hope that helps Tech-less and you feel a bit more comfortable with Tech-Speak.

I’m always happy to answer questions and help where I can, so feel free to get in touch via my contact form if there’s anything you’d like clarification on!