Non-techie people use the terms URL, website, and domain interchangeably or sometimes they use “website” to refer to the other two because they’ve never heard of URLs and domains. These are not the same as each other, though each is related. In fact, one builds on the other starting with domain name, then website, then URL. There are more components to building an internet presence, but start with these.
Think of It Like Writing a Book
Say you are the sort of writer who always starts with a title. Once you have a name in mind you can easily picture character, setting, and plot. Your binder representing this unfolding story is entitled “My Story”; the label says so and you have reserved blank paper inside the binder for writing.
No one is to pick up that binder and fill the pages with recipes or homework notes; it’s yours as long as the binder is claimed and labelled. Registering a domain name is like reserving a place to start writing your book and claiming a unique name before someone else does.
Using the Domain Name for Something
But that book: it has no substance yet. The story has not started to flow. Your characters are unformed. You don’t pick up and write anything on those pages for a little while until, one day, you get an idea. You start with the plot which is your story’s structure.
It’s going to be a romance with three main characters; a love triangle set in Paris between the wars. You know the theme, setting, and who will be in it. That’s your website; the structure you establish and fill with content. The website is what people find when they go looking for you online. If you had only registered a domain name, typing the address into a browser would lead to a site under construction.
Content on Your Website
The book is finished, at last. You have actually gone to the effort of typing it into a word processor, printing off pages, and creating a table of contents. Some of those contents include a glossary of French words, a timeline, and perhaps comments from the author about historical events and acknowledging experts who supplied historical information. With so much information outside the story itself, you might even need an index page at the back, like the partner to your contents page at the front.
If this was a website, the one difference is that information could be added later. It would be divided into headings and sub-headings. When the reader asked for something specific, this would take him to a new page within the structure of the website.
At the top of the page would be a URL slightly different from the original domain name: www.MyStory.com is the domain, but the URL is www.MyStory.com/index or www.MyStory.com/story-chapter7.
If you were writing an essay about the book and were asked to cite references, you would have to use the precise URL, not merely the domain name, in order to create an accurate bibliography for the teacher. If the website will not be changed by the addition of comments or blog articles, the website name will not be elongated either.