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In today's digital age, having an online presence is critical for businesses of all sizes. But have you ever wondered, how does your website magically appears whenever someone types in your domain name? Let's highlight one of the main components behind any online system: The Web Server.

Web 101: An Essential Series for Your Business
Web 101

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Welcome to Web 101, a free series of blog articles aimed at businesses to help them better understand the world of Web.

In this day and age, where a business's digital presence is as important as its physical one, having a basic understanding of how the Web works, undoubtedly opens up so many ne...

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With an estimated 1.13 billion websites on the internet as of 2023, and an even greater number of users accessing them daily, one can be left wondering: How do computers manage to navigate this vast chit-chat complexity? This is where two fundamental elements orchestrate the web browsing experience to be both swift and straightforward: The Domain Names and the DNS servers.

In this article, we will introduce these two building blocks of the digital world and the important role they play, but also on a more practicle note, how can one make good use of this understanding.

Understanding the Basics: IP Addresses and the Role of Domain Names

Much like people can connect by dialing phone numbers, computers communicate using IP addresses.

On the internet, every computer is assigned an IP address that makes it reachable. These IP addresses adhere to a specific structure, looking like the following:

Now, from a computer's point of view these numbers are easy to work with and in fact, they are extremely fast to process, but from a human's perspective, they aren't so memorable.

In the era before smartphones and speed dial, we relied on our mental rolodex of phone numbers and handwritten contact lists as a way to avoid memorizing countless numbers. Rather than memorizing digits, we could simply flip through our directory and locate entries like "Mom" or "Pizza Place."

Similarly, the founding minds of the internet crafted domain names as user-friendly alternatives to IP addresses, allowing us to access websites without the need for mental gymnastics.

As such, it is much easier for us to remember "" as opposed to "" (If you click on the IP address, you'll be redirected to google).

The Role of DNS: Your Personal Address Book

But wait, how do those names magically lead us to the right places?

That's where DNS (Domain Name System) comes in – it's like your personal address book. Just like we used to turn to our journals for the right phone number, your device consults multiple DNS to find the IP address associated with a domain name you type into your browser. It's like asking, "Hey DNS, what's the number for

DNS quietly works in the background, located across various servers globally. When you type a domain name, your device queries these servers until it finds the right IP address. This process happens so smoothly that you're transparently directed to your desired website without any manual intervention.

The Anatomy of a Domain Name

Now that we know how domain names and DNS collaborate, let's explore how a domain name is structured.

Imagine your domain name as the digital equivalent of your business's street address.

It's what people type into their browsers to find your website. A domain name should ideally reflect your brand and what you do. For instance, if you run a bakery named "SweetDelights," having a domain like instantly tells visitors what to expect.

What about these weird other parts surrounding our business name, like "www.", or ".com"?

Well, just like a street address, a domain name is made of multiple parts which help identify the location of the website.

As a matter of fact, computers actually read domain names in reverse to what we humans do:

com -> sweetdelight -> www

Let's break down our previous example "" to understand what each part means:

  • Top-Level Domain (TLD) e.g.: .com: The TLD is like the street where your address is located. It helps pinpoint where to look for to reach the next part, "sweetdelight". The ".com" is the most popular TLD, and although it was initially intended to be used for "commercial" websites, in practice it is used for almost any type of website. Nowadays, a plethora of alternative TLD exists, such as .ai for artificial intelligence, or .accountant for accountants.
  • Second Level Domain (SLD) e.g.: sweetdelights: This is your unique identifier, akin to a building number. It differentiates you from other websites, just like other buildings on the same street.
  • Subdomain e.g.: www: This prefix is often used, but not always necessary. It's like specifying an apartment number in an address. This can be useful for companies that have multiple different websites, such as Facebook with its blog at

Together, these parts form a cohesive whole, directing visitors to your digital destination.

Choosing the Right Domain: Tips and Considerations

Selecting the perfect domain name involves some careful thought.

Keep it concise, easy to spell, and relevant to your content. If possible, opt for a .com extension, as it's widely recognized and trusted. Avoid using complex words or symbols that might confuse visitors. A clear and memorable domain name can significantly impact your website's visibility and accessibility.

Registering and Managing Your Domain Name

Registering a domain is like staking your claim in the digital landscape.

The process is fast and easy to do with what we call a Domain registrar, which is an entity responsible for securing your name on your behalf. Most registrar work on a yearly basis, where you pay a specific fee every year to claim the domain name as your own. Prices can vary greatly depending on the TLD you choose, and even on the registrar, so do not fear to consider your options to find something that fits your needs.

Protecting Your Privacy

When you register a domain, your personal information becomes accessible to the public.

However, most registrars offer a "domain privacy protection" option that acts as a shield, safeguarding you from unwanted attention. In most cases this is either included free of charge with your domain name registration or as a non-expensive additional option that really is a worthy investment in maintaining your online presence securely.

Closing Words

As we conclude, you've unveiled the secrets behind domain names and DNS.

These elements form the backbone of your online ventures, making navigation through the digital world effortlessly convenient. Remember, if these intricacies ever leave you puzzled, consider leaning on a tech expert to guide you. Their know-how can make your digital journey as smooth as a stroll through your favourite park.

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