The Internet is made up of billions of web pages, and pages are identified and accessed using URLs. Every web page has a URL (commonly known as â€˜linkâ€™ or â€˜addressâ€™) which tells a browser how to find the location where the associated content is hosted.
URL stands for â€˜Uniform Resource Locatorâ€™ â€“ and breaking this definition down helps to explain the role that URLs play:
Uniform: keeping things in a standard format.
Resource: web pages, information, entertainment etc.
Locator: unique identifier to provide access to the resource.
The Different Parts of A URL
Most URLs are made up of four different elements. Each part plays an important role in directing the browser to the resource that you want to access.
1 â€“ A Scheme Name (or Protocol)
There are many different Scheme Names that can be used for various purposes, but to keep things simple we will look at the two most common that are used in creating a web design for small business customers. The first is â€˜httpâ€™ which you will be very used to seeing at the start of most URLs, and in simple terms it defines the purpose of the rest of the URL. An http request is the main protocol used for the transfer of data on the Internet.
The second most relevant Scheme Name is â€˜httpsâ€™, which is a secure version of http, used for privacy and security. You will notice that most websites that require strict security such as online bank accounts, or privacy such as social networks, include the https Scheme Name at the start of their URLs. It is now possible to make any website secure for a reasonable price. Even budget web design customers can purchase an SSL certificate for as little as Â£10 to provide an https connection for their visitors.
2 â€“ A Colon and Two Slashes (://)
This element is simply to tell the browser that the information that follows in the URL is related to the preceding Scheme Name.
3 â€“ A Domain Name
All small business websites will have a domain name, usually made up of their brand name followed by a suffix such as .com or .co.uk. Domain names can be preceded by â€˜www.â€™ â€“ although this is not essential and some websites choose not to include that. However, most sites still include this for consistency as we are so used to saying â€œwww.â€ at the start of every web address.
4 â€“ The Full Directory Path of the Resource
Website files are saved in folders, in the very same way that you might organise your holiday photos in a hierarchical file structure e.g. Holidays > Beach Holidays > Caribbean > Barbados â€“ website pages work in a similar way. It doesnâ€™t matter whether you are saving money by opting for an affordable web design company, or investing heavily in an ambitious custom development, all websites are organised in the same way behind the scenes.
This is reflected in the directory path in a URL. A URL that looks like this http://www.mywebsite.com/blog/travel/barbados/ shows that between each set of forward slashes is a folder on the server where the website is hosted. To keep the website structure clear and well organized, specific folders are assigned to each section, and the directory path tells the browser which folder to look in to find the resource that you wish to access.
Find Out More
If you are trying to learn more about the Internet so that you can try to create a website, why not get in touch to see if we can help. Rosco Digital Media provides low cost website design services for small businesses, and we would be very happy to have an initial conversation about your requirements to see if we are able to help.