The Cookie Jar Analogy (English version)

Many months ago, I wrote about Cookie Jar Analogy to explain the connection between domain name(s) and website in Indonesian. I wanted to continue with what domain mapping/connecting is and how it works; but I decided to re-start it with The Cookie Jar Analogy again in English. I hope it’s okay with you 😄

As Happiness Engineers, one of the most common questions we receive is about domain name’s effect with websites. Sometimes, folks contacted us and inquired something like, “I just realized I made a typo on my website! Can I change it? Will it delete my website too? Do I have to restart again building my website from scratch?”

Think… Cookies in a jar. The cookies inside the jar is your website’s contents. Your posts, pages, themes, plugins, database, everything.

Then, the cookie jar needs a label to identify it. It can be your name, or it can be a label written with bold letter “COOKIES”, or anything. That label is your domain name.

Generally, when you create a website, the cookie jar has its default label — we call this, “website address.” It can be something like temp0245.website.net, or if you are hosting the website in WordPress.com, the website address usually look like this:

WEBSITENAME.wordpress.com

The website address itself can vary, depending on the website host company. In WordPress, it can be .wordpress.com, .home.blog, or anything. For WordPress.com websites with Business plan and customized plugins/themes without custom domain name yet (we will talk about custom domain name soon), the website address is .wpcomstaging.com.

Why is that? It’s like how we human beings created naming system, really. When a person is born, they will automatically given a name. Even when the individual is unidentified, the police force usually provide name such as ‘John Doe’ or ‘Jane Doe’.

Now! What is custom domain name? Custom domain name is some kind of “vanity” name. This is a domain name that you can choose (as long as it’s available on the market), register, and renew regularly. People purchasing custom domain name for business purpose, professional image, or for folks to remember it easily.

Is it compulsory to purchase a custom domain name? Not really, no. Some hosting providers provide free website address which easy to remember (like .wordpress.com, .blogger.com, .tumblr.com, and many more.) Some hosting providers might require the users to purchase custom domain name with discounts; but all in all, purchasing custom domain name is based on your needs and preferences.

In some cases, and this is actually pretty common, there are cookie jars with multiple labels on it (one website with multiple domain names.) Some people choose to do that to ensure the domain name is “correct”, for the sake of presence, and reducing phishing risk. For example, a company A has this company website with domain name companyA.com. Then they wanted another domain, companyA.co, to open the same website with companyA.com. They can put two domain names on one website and the whole thing will still work (I kind of forgot the term, is it “domain layering”?)

So it’s like how folks with nicknames. For example, me. My name is Retno Nindya, and people can call me “Retno”, “Nindya”, and some call me “Kap” or “Kapkap”. And all of those names are pointing to the same person: me.

We talked about multiple domain names on one website and how the whole thing works, and should work, smoothly. However, there’s a caveat on this.

A website needs a primary domain name.

A primary domain name is, no matter how the website is accessed — whichever domain name was used to access — the domain name that will be displayed in the browser address bar is the domain name.

So, for example, if you have a WordPress.com website address: awesomeblog.wordpress.com — then you purchased a custom domain name awesomeblog.com, make sure you set the custom domain name awesomeblog.com as the primary domain name to ensure your website visitors to see awesomeblog.com on their browser address bar when they visited your website. They will still able to access awesomeblog.wordpress.com, but they will see the custom domain name on their browser address bar.

The same goes if you have more than one custom domain name. Taking example from the companyA.com and companyA.co above; if the primary domain name is set to companyA.com, visitors will still able to access companyA.co, but they will see companyA.com on the browser bar.

What will happen if the custom domain name is canceled? Then the address will whirr back to its default website address.

I hope this post able to provide a glimpse of understanding on how domain name affects website’s contents 🙂

In case you want to read more about custom domain name in WordPress.com, feel free to check this article: https://en.support.wordpress.com/domains/

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