Domain vs Website: The Differences Explained

Tijesunimi Jegede
Tijesunimi Jegede

SEO tech content writer; Articles and blog posts on technology and online marketing

Domain names and websites are two critical parts and requirements for having an online presence, but while these concepts are often used interchangeably, they are completely different. Learn the difference between a domain and a website and how they work together.

Your website or blog is a collection of pages containing text, images, other content types, and files that visitors and customers engage with when they search for your business or brand online and are managed by you or your organization.

A domain name is the address to your website and is what visitors type into their browsers whenever they want to visit your website. Your domain name points to the servers hosting your website content.

The domain name is often used interchangeably with ‘website URL’ or ‘website address’ and many times, along the line, the ‘URL’ and ‘address’ get dropped and the domain name is also referred to as the website, hence the confusion.

In the rest of this piece, we’ll define clearly what a domain is, how it works, what a website is, how domains and websites work together, and tips for choosing the best domains and creating great websites.

What is a domain name?

In simple terms, a domain is what you type into a browser whenever you want to visit a website.

If you want to order an item from Amazon and type in the website URL ‘www.amazon.com’ into your browser, ‘amazon.com’ is the domain name. Your domain name is your brand’s identifier and is completely unique.

Domain names are user-friendly components of a web address and are usually made up of familiar dictionary words or a combination of dictionary letters.

What are the functions of a domain name?

The core function of a domain name is to make finding websites incredibly easy. Whenever you search for a website, a lot more technical stuff happens behind the scenes but you may not realize this since the web pages are served up to you very quickly.

A domain is actually linked to the IP addresses of the servers where a website’s content lives. But these IP addresses are very difficult to remember and having to memorize the IP address of every website you want to visit would be impossible.

Domain names shield website visitors from all that technical stuff, allowing you to use easy-to-remember words to find websites conveniently.

A domain name is also a very important part of your brand presence and ideally, should be an identical match with your brand name. Your domain name defines the name visitors will always associate with your brand.

Name Link Price BID EAP WBY MDA END
newscafe.com
GoDaddy 2 000 58 36 680 1996 50 2024-05-21
somethingnavy.com
GoDaddy 9 600 69 10 219 2010 48 2024-05-21
nzone.com
Backorder 7 354 1996 56 2024-05-22
voltra.com
Backorder 6 802 1997 3 2024-05-22
bedbug.com
GoDaddy 9 999 128 6 714 1998 27 2024-05-21
buddyloans.com
GoDaddy 6 605 43 5 943 2005 48 2024-05-21
bridgersteel.com
GoDaddy 3 931 146 4 040 2003 44 2024-05-21
assurances.com
Backorder 3 498 2000 17 2024-05-22
expono.com
Backorder 2 453 2004 38 2024-05-21
naturalcure.com
GoDaddy 3 350 68 2 319 2001 5 2024-05-21
  • newscafe.com
    GoDaddy
    2 000
    58
    36 680
    1996
    50
    2024-05-21
  • somethingnavy.com
    GoDaddy
    9 600
    69
    10 219
    2010
    48
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • nzone.com
    Backorder
    7 354
    1996
    56
    2024-05-22
    Screenshot
  • voltra.com
    Backorder
    6 802
    1997
    3
    2024-05-22
  • bedbug.com
    GoDaddy
    9 999
    128
    6 714
    1998
    27
    2024-05-21
  • buddyloans.com
    GoDaddy
    6 605
    43
    5 943
    2005
    48
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • bridgersteel.com
    GoDaddy
    3 931
    146
    4 040
    2003
    44
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot
  • assurances.com
    Backorder
    3 498
    2000
    17
    2024-05-22
  • expono.com
    Backorder
    2 453
    2004
    38
    2024-05-21
  • naturalcure.com
    GoDaddy
    3 350
    68
    2 319
    2001
    5
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot

What is a website?

A website is a collection of files, data, images, text, etc. that are usually around a particular theme or industry and are managed by a particular person or entity.

Whenever you type in a website URL and hit enter, all the images, text, logos, navigation controls, etc. that are shown to you consist of the website’s data. A website can also be loosely used to describe the entirety of this data that’s served to visitors.

Your website is what visitors or customers who search for your domain engage with and is what they see as your brand or the ‘you’ online.

Functions of a website

So what are the functions of a website?

A website functions as your brand’s territory online and on your website, you can control everything a potential visitor or customer experiences whenever they want to engage with your brand online.

If you run an eCommerce business, your website will usually be an online store and is like your virtual storefront for potential customers looking to buy your products. On your website or store, you can display products, descriptions, and price tags, allow customers to add to their carts, and receive payments.

As a blog owner, your website is where you upload content that your audience follows and your own… well… ‘domain’.

A website also allows you to collect important data for your business - visitor contact information like emails and track interest in your brand from the number of clicks and visits you are getting.

Most importantly, a website is a core component of your marketing efforts and is the one-stop shop for everything a potential customer wants to know about your brand.

With a website, you can direct traffic from other marketing channels to one place and advertise your business offerings to your audience within a particular geographical area or around the world.

Differences between a domain and a website

Now that we have established what domain names and websites are, what are the differences between the two if you wanted to explain them simply to someone else?

Domains as the address; websites as the house

A very popular analogy when describing domains and websites is the house-and-address analogy. Basically, a website is like all the stuff you find in a house that concerns your brand. On the other hand, your domain name is basically the address of that house.

Many visitors don’t bother typing ‘www.’ when searching for a website, but instead, just type the domain name.

Your domain is what users type to see the content of your website. It is the unique ‘name’ of your website and your brand online. Your website is where all the actual content - files, text, images, home page, category pages, blog posts, contact forms, icons, navigation buttons, etc. - is stored.

Today, many people also refer to domains as ‘websites’ because the domain yields the website. However, whenever you are referring to both concepts together, you should use ‘domain’ and ‘website’.

How domains and websites work together

Okay, now we know how domains are different from websites but how exactly does a domain yield the website content visitors see when they type in a domain in their browsers? What’s a brief overview of the technical stuff that goes on behind the scenes?

Web hosting and the DNS

Domains are linked to websites through important services/systems - website hosting and the domain naming system (the DNS for short).

Web hosting providers

First, all the contents of every website on the internet (including yours) are stored on one or more servers. These servers are what serve up a website’s content to a browser trying to visit the website. The company that owns or manages these servers is called a web hosting provider and these servers are ‘web hosting servers’ or the website’s ‘host servers’.

Web hosting providers give you ‘space’ to store your website’s content so that it is available on the internet.

So a better description of the house analogy we used is your website host is like a landlord that gives you a house to store your website’s content while the domain name is like the address of that house.

So whenever you search for ‘amazon.com’, all the product photos you see, the text, how they are arranged, etc. are all served up from Amazon’s web host servers that host or store this content.

The domain naming system (DNS)

The internet is powered by a vast network of servers. Servers are basically powerful computers that can store a lot of data and help you find the content you are looking for when you search the internet.

But computers and browsers don’t understand or communicate using human text or domain names like ‘amazon.com’ in the way humans do. Every server and every digital device for that matter has a unique IP address - basically the way these devices are named, made up of strings of numbers separated by dots e.g.: 192.168.123.132 and this is how computers call and find each other over the internet.

Now imagine that whenever you wanted to visit any website online you had to memorize the IP address of the web host server where it is hosted - that’d be a nightmare, right?

To make it easier, some smart people created the domain naming system (DNS for short), a system that links human-readable domain names to IP addresses of the host servers where the website content lives, so we don’t have to memorize these weird numbers.

Domain names (which are usually a common word or combination of words) are much easier to remember and make it easy to find websites on the internet. So whenever you search for a domain name, the DNS resolves the domain name into the right IP address of the server (provided by your web hosting provider) where the website is hosted and then directs your browser to request the content from those servers.

How to choose the best domains

How do you choose the best domains for your website?

New Domains

If you want to register a new domain name, it’s very important that your domain name matches your brand name. At the time of this writing, there are over 300 million registered domains so any simple, one-word domain name you may be thinking of is likely registered already.

So many webmasters, use a bottom-up approach - i.e. searching for available domain names and then building their brand names around that.

When choosing any domain, you want one that’s as short as possible, easy to remember, easy to spell, clear to pronounce, and just sticks. You want to avoid domains with too many consonants or are not easy to spell from just their pronunciation.

Preowned domains

Many webmasters also opt for preowned domains over brand new domains as the former may have already garnered great backlinks, high domain authority, or may even be generating traffic.

When choosing a preowned domain, you want to vet the domain’s backlink profile, current search volume, history, and whether it is currently indexed, and also check other essential domain metrics like the domain authority, Majestic Trust flow, etc.

ExpiredDomains is your one-stop for high-value expired domains with great domain scores, keyword relevance, and sometimes awesome traffic.

Tips for designing great websites

On the website end, a well-designed website will ensure visitors get all the info they need about your brand, arouse interest in your offerings, and give them the best user experience. Here are some tips for designing a great website:

Keep your website simple

Simplicity often trumps wild creativity. Website visitors have very very short attention spans and don’t want to be figuring out where to find content they are looking for.

You want your website’s design to be appealing but still simple. Place the most important sections of your website on the homepage and make sure your website is not cluttered.

A clear hierarchy

As an extension of simplicity, you also want to have a well-defined hierarchy on your website. Point your visitors’ attention to the more important parts of your website and make these stand out with larger text and fonts and place them where they are very visible.

Easy navigation

Your website should also be very easy to navigate and as a convention, all your website’s content should be at most three clicks deep. Use breadcrumb menus to help visitors know where they are on your website and navigate backward and forwards easily.

Link to your homepage in the logo, make your menu button visible, insert jump-to sections, and place other important info like your contact, overarching categories, and other relevant links in your footer.

Responsive website - different devices

Your website’s visitors will be using different devices to search your domain - phones, desktops, PCs, tablets, etc - hence you should design a responsive or adaptive website that automatically adjusts to the screen size.

Mobile searches, in particular, dominate the internet so you should pay special attention to mobile SEO. Use a website builder that automatically creates a mobile version of your website.

Avoid clumpy content

Another great tip when designing your website is to avoid clumped content. Ensure that icons, images, and bodies of text especially, are well-spaced.

If you’re publishing blog posts don’t write several sentences per paragraph. Instead, stick to 3-4 sentences max per paragraph, and between each paragraph, give enough white space.

Website visitors today are skimmers and don’t take the time to read every text on your website in detail. Put the most important information at the top and then make the important subheadings in bold.

This makes it easy for skimmers to get all the info they need quickly and not bounce because they are intimidated by huge blocks of text.

All you need for a fully functional website

We’ve established all you need to know about domain names, websites, and how they’re different. So what do you need to have a fully functional website?

A domain name

A domain name is where accessing your website begins. Your domain name is the name users associate with your brand and the portal through which browsers find the right content to serve to them.

Website hosting

A web host or web hosting provider gives you space to store your website’s content and keeps your website online. The web host’s servers are where a domain query pulls your website’s content from.

A website design tool

And finally, you need a web design tool to create the layout of your website - colors, themes, schemes, etc. Many web hosting providers provide you with website builders out-of-the-box as well as domain registration services to give you everything you need to build a fully functional website from scratch.
Name Link Price BID EAP WBY ABY END
newscafe.com
GoDaddy 2 000 58 36 680 1996 1998 2024-05-21
bedbug.com
GoDaddy 9 999 128 6 714 1998 2001 2024-05-21
airscan.com
GoDaddy 1 026 29 5 659 1997 1998 2024-05-26
poirot.com
GoDaddy 565 49 4 984 1999 2001 2024-05-24
1734.com
GoDaddy 3 900 15 3 637 1999 1999 2024-05-26
canya.com
GoDaddy 580 27 3 548 2001 2002 2024-05-24
soom.com
GoDaddy 7 211 52 2 899 1998 2001 2024-05-23
mireille.com
GoDaddy 676 78 2 368 1998 1999 2024-05-24
baine.com
GoDaddy 324 20 2 343 1999 2001 2024-05-24
naturalcure.com
GoDaddy 3 350 68 2 319 2001 2001 2024-05-21
  • newscafe.com
    GoDaddy
    2 000
    58
    36 680
    1996
    1998
    2024-05-21
  • bedbug.com
    GoDaddy
    9 999
    128
    6 714
    1998
    2001
    2024-05-21
  • airscan.com
    GoDaddy
    1 026
    29
    5 659
    1997
    1998
    2024-05-26
    Screenshot
  • poirot.com
    GoDaddy
    565
    49
    4 984
    1999
    2001
    2024-05-24
    Screenshot
  • 1734.com
    GoDaddy
    3 900
    15
    3 637
    1999
    1999
    2024-05-26
    Screenshot
  • canya.com
    GoDaddy
    580
    27
    3 548
    2001
    2002
    2024-05-24
  • soom.com
    GoDaddy
    7 211
    52
    2 899
    1998
    2001
    2024-05-23
    Screenshot
  • mireille.com
    GoDaddy
    676
    78
    2 368
    1998
    1999
    2024-05-24
    Screenshot
  • baine.com
    GoDaddy
    324
    20
    2 343
    1999
    2001
    2024-05-24
  • naturalcure.com
    GoDaddy
    3 350
    68
    2 319
    2001
    2001
    2024-05-21
    Screenshot