What is a Domain Name?

By |2017-08-09T22:37:00-04:00August 30th, 2012|Glossary|0 Comments

by Michael Duff, Founder

The Domain name is the web address. One of mine is www.duffweb.com. It’s where people go to find your site, like a phone number. Except if you mis-type a domain name you don’t get a non-English speaking person answering a website. Am I the only one to notice that most of the wrong numbers I call get answered by someone who barely speaks English? I think it’s funny. Anyway, you register your domain name at a web registrar like Network Solutions, GoDaddy or any number of others (and there are LOTS of them). This costs anywhere between $8 and $35 a year, depending on who you register it with and for how long. If you forget to renew your domain name, your website will go “off the air.” Sort of like not paying your phone bill!

A domain name is sometimes called a URL. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator or Universal Resource Locator depending on who you ask. When someone asks you for the URL, they don’t want just the domain but the full web address, like the one for this page:


What you see in this example breaks down as:


This is called the “protocol.” Protocol is basically some code to give the browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc.) a heads-up to the type of information that’s about to hit it. Many browsers don’t even show this anymore since it’s pretty-much a given.

[icon=”star” /]IMPORTANT: when you are entering any kind of sensitive info (credit cards, SSN, etc.) on a website, make sure there is an “S” at the end of the http, like: “https://”. This means the connection is secure. If it just says “http://” then it’s not, which is fine any time other than when you’re entering sensitive info.


This is the actual domain name. This breaks down in its own way, and if you’re really interested, my pal Andromeda Edison wrote a very cool article on it that here: http://www.internetimagemanagement.com/articles/basic-internet/parts.html


This is a directory. Think of this whole thing as a filing cabinet (see image below) and for reasons of organization you need to put things into a folder, that folder will go into another folder, etc. With each directory (after each “/”) you’re getting deeper into the first folder and into one inside it. Eventually you’ll get to the item you are looking for – the file!


This is the name of the web page itself. This is where the individual file and information actually is. If you don’t see a page name, but see a page it is called an “Index” page and the address is probably some version of “index.html,” “index.php” or what have you. This is another thing that browsers don’t need to show.

They’re lazy, basically!

And as you can see, things are seperated by that “/”. This lets the browser know that it’s time to look a bit deeper for the next thing.

In a future post I’ll get into why sometimes it seems like someone went nuts when they named the page, like: “http://www.amazon.com/Notwithstanding-Chalk-Farm/dp/B000002BJW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332992213&sr=8-1“.

What were they thinking?!

We’ll find out.

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