How your website works
The basics of domain names, website hosting, and what domain settings you may need to be aware of.
What is a domain name?
A unique address used to access internet services, such as a website related to an organisation like artlogic.net.
Whenever you visit a website the domain name appears in the address bar of the web browser.
Domain names can also be used in a range of online services, not just your website (www.artlogic.net), emails (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) but also other services on different ports that computers use to connect to each other using hostnames.
What is an IP address?
Behind the scenes, each website actually exists on a server at a specific IP address, such as 184.108.40.206. However, registering a domain gives you an address where people can find it in a human-readable way such as www.artlogic.net.
There is a process called Domain Name System (known as DNS - see below) which routes the request for a web page (e.g. https://www.artlogic.net) to the IP address of a web server, which will send the homepage.
How do I register a domain name?
There are many companies that allow you to register a domain name. Once you have registered a unique name, you then ‘own’ that address for a set term, and must be renewed every year or every few years. If you do not renew the registration, the domain name will become available for others to purchase.
These companies vary in price and ease of use. For the UK, we tend to recommend LCN.com or 123-Reg.co.uk. Other famous companies have diversified into other areas like GoDaddy, and Network Solutions but we would not recommend them.
What is website ‘hosting’?
Website pages and files need to be stored and made accessible via the Internet at all times.
In reality, most website material is stored in databases where you can log in and edit it via editing tools (Content Management System or CMS).
When a page request reaches the server, layers of software and a database application construct and return the page and assets such as pictures (documents might load in from different servers).
Why does Artlogic charge for hosting?
Our hosting fees go towards the setup and maintenance of the hardware and software we need to use to serve websites, plus space in secure datacentres, the bandwidth (actual data passing in and out of our computers) and electrical power, all of which has real hard costs to us.
We also lease some computers and pay for specialist cloud-based services to accelerate website delivery. We continue to develop, refine and monitor the technology that is used to program and serve our websites and the CMS which makes editing websites so easy.
We also provide technical support and offer advice about related activities, such as image preparation, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media, video streaming, etc.
We cannot put our solutions on servers belonging to another company. Our servers have a complex ecosystem of software and code libraries which we need to control 100% in order to guarantee performance and security.
What is DNS?
DNS stands for ‘Domain Name System’ and every process on the internet with host names relies on it.
This makes it easier for people to get going, providing they buy all the services from one place,but purchasing a package deal of services makes it harder to identify and understand each element they are buying and understand that each service can be provided by different companies.
When you register a domain name, the registry entry lists the addresses of the computers that provide the DNS (routing information) for that domain. Any device wanting to use services on your domain name will request from these special DNS computers the IP address of each host, like a phone book for your domain. All applications using your domain name will connect via DNS enquiries, including:
- Other applications, such as instant messaging
Commonly, this service is provided free as part of your domain name registration so you can usually log in to a control panel at your domain provider (the website where you registered the domain), and make changes to the settings. However, it is also a service that can be provided by another company.
Why do I need to change my DNS settings?
When you want to publish/launch/make your website public, your domain address needs to be rerouted so it points to your new website - hosted on our servers. To do this, you need to change some DNS settings.