What’s in a Website?

Understanding the basic elements of a website can take some of the mystery out of how they are put together, and help give you the knowledge and confidence you need to get started on one.

A website includes 4 main elements:

  • Domain name
  • Website hosting service
  • Site content
  • Content management system

The Domain name is the main web address, such as google.com or amazon.com. All domain names are unique, and they ensure your site can be found among the millions of sites on the internet. Domain names are managed by a large non-profit corporation, and an annual fee is required for the rights to your domain name, usually $10 – $15 per year.

The Website hosting service is where your website lives. It provides access to your site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and includes numerous services such as security, backups, and site building tools. Popular hosting services such as HostGator, BlueHost, Wix, and Squarespace charge $10 – $30 per month to host and maintain your site.

The Site content is the actual set of pages that people can view on your site. It also includes photos and images, templates and style files, and utilities that send information forms, manage email, display slide shows, and so on.

The Content management system is where your website hosting service stores your content, and makes it possible for you to format and edit it. The most popular content management system is called WordPress. Many hosting services provide WordPress for free, but using it takes some getting used to. Some “do-it-yourself” hosting services like Wix and SquareSpace provide their own content management systems that are simpler but less powerful than WordPress.