Making URLs work for you
Each page on the web has a unique address, rather like a postcode. 'Locator' is the important word in Uniform Resource Locator (‘URL’) since it can give you clues to whereabouts you are within a site (are you on the home page or are you further in?), what you are looking at, and where the information you are looking at has come from (is the information from an academic institution or a commercial company?). Not only that, but if you understand the anatomy of a URL, you can use the principles to ‘guess’ what a company or organisation's web address might be. All websites follow a set pattern known as the Domain Name System (DNS), and usually take the form:
From this we can find out that:
- http:// – we will be looking at a website; http stands for hypertext transfer protocol – the ‘protocol’ or set of rules used by the computer to access and deliver web pages.
- www.bbc – we will be looking at a website held on a computer (also called a ‘server’) known as www.bbc – this part of the address tells you about the computer that the information you are looking at is located on; often it will be the name of a company or organisation.
- co.uk – we will be looking at the website of a company (‘co’) which calls itself ‘bbc’, in the UK. The co part of the address is called the domain. Examples of other domains you may come across include .edu or .ac – academic or educational servers; .co, .com – commercial; .gov – government; .org – non–governmental, non–profit making organisations. These might be followed with a country code, such as .uk, .au (for Australia), or .fr (for France) which can indicate where the computer holding the site is located.