Well, domain names are so common nowadays that it’s hard to believe someone not knowing what they actually stand for. However, there is a lot more to a domain name than what most of the people know and understand. So we will be going into most of the important details about a domain name, helping you understand what they are all about.
What exactly is a domain name?
That brings us back to where we started. We first need to understand what a domain name actually is, without getting into much technical stuff. So, simply put, a domain name is really similar to an address. For example, you need an address to get where you want to go. Similarly, there is an IP address when it comes to websites, which you need to know if you want to visit it. However, typing in complex IP addresses to visit a website is surely far from something users would like to do, and hence we have the domain names.
So take it this way. Even though you do need an address to reach somewhere, you can just tell the place’s name to your cabbie, and if it’s popular enough, they will help you get there without having to share the specific address. Similarly, a domain name helps you land on a website without knowing its IP address, or its “exact location” or numeric address.
Well, that’s the simplest we could make it for you. So in short, a domain name is simply an alternative to the exact address of a website, which you would otherwise have to remember in order to visit it.
A look at some technical stuff
As mentioned before, there’s a lot more to a domain name than what most of the people know about it. So we will now start with some technical details related to a domain name, and put it as simply as we can.
Firstly, we need to understand what a domain name consists. As you are probably already aware of, a domain name would usually look something like this – justanexample.com. So it actually consists of two parts, though there is also another part it would have at the beginning (www), but it usually isn’t needed to visit the website.
The second part, or the one that comes after the dot (“.”), is known as the TLD, or the top-level domain. Usually, most of the well known websites would have TLDs such as .com, .org, or .net.
Coming to the first part, or the one mentioned before the dot (“.”), it’s known as the second-level domain. Now this is where one can pick anything that comes to their mind, given that it’s available for registering, or in other words, if someone else hasn’t already registered it.
So for example, if one is selling shirts, they might want to choose a second-level domain such as “theshirtstore”, or something related to shirts. Similarly, they will need to choose a TLD (also known as an extension) as well, and though the ones mentioned above are the popular options, nowadays, many other options are available for registering as well, including the ones such as .xyz, .info, as well as country specific TLDs such as .de, .in, and so on.
In some cases, there can also be a middle-higher level domain. For example, in Japantimes.co.jp, Japantimes would be called as the smaller mid-level domain, and .co would be called as the larger one. “.jp” would be the extension or TLD. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s a country specific TLD, as .jp specifically represents a website based in Japan.
What an IP address looks like?
To someone not well versed with such complex technical stuff, it may just seem like a set of numbers. For example, 220.127.116.11 is an IP address. It, just like all the other IP addresses out there, represents a specific location on the Internet, usually a server, computer, or a network working over the Internet. It paves way for the communication between different devices, as well as provides the information its owner wants to share with their audience.
Why the ‘www’ before a domain name?
The ‘www’ before any domain name is known as the machine name, or more commonly, a subdomain. It’s not even a part of your domain name, and one can simply use the SLD and TLD in the domain name to visit a website, without having to type in ‘www’ before it.
How it all works?
The functioning of domain names is actually quite simple. When you enter a domain name into your Web browser, it searches for the IP address associated with the domain name, helping you visit the website it represents. The reason domain names are used instead of IP addresses is because the latter are too difficult to remember, while the former ensures the convenience of browsing and are easy to remember.
A final word
The above given information covers most of the basic, as well as important things about what a domain is all about. We have tried our best to present it in a way that anyone, even those who are least tech-savvy, can understand without much difficulty.