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Website Basics- Understanding the Lingo

By Tanya Beaudoin
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2004

Thinking of getting together a website for your business but overwhelmed with the prospect of having to do the whole “Tech Talk” thing. Don’t feel intimidated or let yourself be pushed around into spending way more on a website then your really need too. This article is going to break down some website basics so you can make informed decisions about your website.

Domain vs. Sub Domain

Think of the domain as an address to your website. Each web site needs a unique name so people can find it. Your address can be a domain (think house) or sub domain (think apartment). With a domain your address is unique to you, for example (, but with a sub domain your site and address would be shared with others with a unique “apartment number” to direct people to your site. For example ( or (

A domain name is usually much shorter and easier to recall. It is convenient for advertising and can stick much easier in your potential customers mind. However, Domain names cost money and must be renewed annually.

A Sub domain is usually longer and is not unique to your business, but usually is free with your hosting package. Often your Internet Service Provider ISP will provide you with web space on their domain as part of your internet package.


Websites need to be stored or “hosted” on a computer server. While you could host your website on your own computer, it would involve expensive server software, a dedicated high-speed internet connection and technical expertise. Most websites are hosted with hosting companies. The cost of hosting usually depends on how much space you will need for your web site and how much traffic (or bandwidth) you anticipate. Bandwidth is determined by how many people visit your site and how much information they view while they are there. Hosting companies are very competitive and you should shop around before choosing one.

Computer languages

Websites are created in computer languages. HTML, JAVA Script and PHP are just a few. Unless you are going to start designing your own websites, I would not concern myself with trying to understand the languages themselves. Keep in mind that the more interactive or animated your site the more complex the design needs to be. If you are paying to have your site designed, you will pay more for sites that are complex or include animation, e-commerce or databases.


Web Designers will refer to your website in terms of Pages. Think of your website as a book and each bit of information is placed on a separate page. Pages are “linked” together using hyperlinks that allow the viewer to click from page to page. It is wise to plan out your website into manageable pages to allow your viewers to navigate through the site easily and to ensure that the information they are looking for is easy to find and access. Visitors will get frustrated and move on to other sites very quickly if they cannot find what they are looking for.

Search Engines

The best way to think of a search engine is to compare it to a phone book. A Search engine is the method people use to find your web site. Common search engines are Google and Yahoo, although there are many search engines available on the internet. In the past, it was necessary to submit your website to each search engine so that it would be included in search. Now most search engines use technology that indexes all websites on the internet like a catalog. Well-written web sites with pertinent content will rank higher in searches. The number of links to your site from other relevant sites also influences web site rankings. That is why link exchange relationships are available all over the internet; you provide a link on your website to another website and they provide a link back to yours. Some hosting companies and web designers offer search engine submissions for a price and while this is a valid service it is usually not necessary if you have developed a strong site with good content.

The terms explained above are likely to arise in discussions you may have with your web designer. I hope that you will have a better understanding and will be able to make better-informed decisions regarding your website development.

About the Author
© Tanya Beaudoin o/a Office on Demand, All rights reserved. You are free to use this article, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read:
“Please visit Tanya's web site at ( for additional business related articles geared towards small and home based businesses.”


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