There’s a lot that happens between the time you click on a search result or type in a web address and when the website you want to see appears. At Sephone we normally take care of all the technical stuff that makes all the wheels turn, but sometimes companies want a little more information about how things work behind the scenes.
Let’s take a non-techie look at what happens when you visit a site. There are three major parts that make a site work:
- The domain name (often ends in .com)
- A hosting account (where your site lives)
- Application software (the online program that makes your site, blog, or shopping cart work)
The domain name: your .com
Every site on the web belongs to a set of identifying numbers known as an IP address. Think of an IP address as a website’s phone number: it directs you to the place you want to reach.
Of course, you don’t want to remember and type in a bunch of numbers whenever you visit a site! That’s why there are domain names: simple, easy-to-remember words and phrases, with an extension (.com, .net, .us, etc.) that gives a little extra information about what the site is. When you type in a domain name in your browser, you’re routed to the spot on the web where the site you want to see lives. For example, when you type in sephone.com, you’re shown the Sephone website.
You can register domain names on a yearly basis. It’s important to make sure that your domain name doesn’t expire; be sure to renew your registration before the year’s up!
Your site’s home: hosting
Every site on the web, whether it’s a one-page site about your business, a shopping cart, or a huge site like Facebook, needs a place to live. In the web world, that’s what we call hosting. The pages of your site are stored on a computer that your hosting company controls, and that computer responds with the content of a page whenever someone tells their browser to visit your site.
There’s one more piece of the puzzle; it’s the glue that tells your domain name (the .com) where your site lives. That’s handled by a couple of systems called DNS and nameservers. They’re like the switchboard operators of the Internet. When someone goes to your site’s address, the DNS and nameserver settings point them to the place where your site lives on the web.
The powerhouse: software
Just like your computer, websites use applications to deliver content to you. For informational sites, the software behind the scenes is known as a CMS, or content management system (ours at Sephone is called datAvenger). You might have a different kind of web application if you have a blog, shopping cart, or custom type of site. Some of these software packages come with an additional monthly or yearly fee, and some are free.
Making it all work
There are a number of companies online that let you register a domain name, and others allow you to host your site on their servers. They usually have a way to manage all the settings to make sure visitors can see your site.
At Sephone we want to make it as easy for you as possible. You just want a site! You probably don’t want to have to worry about what happens behind the scenes or manage when your domain expires. If you’re interested in a site, let us know what domain name you’d like to use (or if you don’t know, we’d be happy to suggest a few for you!). We’ll do all the legwork to make sure your site shows up every time someone wants to see it. Let us focus on the tech so that you can focus on your business.
If you have any questions about the gears that make your site work, let us know with a comment. We’d be happy to answer!