Eskimo North is one of the oldest ISPs in the US and when we first started offering Internet services, the web didn't exist as such. Back then, most things were in FTP repositories and were found via Archie. Archie was a proprietary server based upon the Prospero protocol and they used to charge an exorbitant fee for the software license. Consequently, they were few and far between.
The web came around after the fact and it was common in those days to offer web hosting as an adjunct to shell service, usually under the providers domain. This is still offered as part of our shell service today. All you need to do is to create a directory called public_html, give it the appropriate permissions, and place your web files in there. The default file is index.htm or index.html. Files placed in this directory will show up on the web at: http://www.eskimo.com/~username where username is whatever your login is. For example, my login is 'nanook' so you can find my personal website at http://www.eskimo.com/~nanook.
I do wish to keep http://www.eskimo.com family friendly, and so to accommodate those who wish to host adult material we've mapped adult.eskimo.com to the adult_html directory in your shell accounts. It functions exactly the same as public_html but simply shows up on a different server name so that parents and institutions that wish to restrict access to adult material don't have to prevent access to family safe material on http://www.eskimo.com.
Over time people wanted to be able to host web pages under their own domain and web server software acquired virtual domain capability, and so we started offering virtual domains as an adjunct to a shell account. A virtual domain maps a domain name to your shell account public_html by default. It is possible to map a virtual domain to a subdirectory of public_html such as public_html/mydomain.com allowing you to map multiple domains to a single shell account. In addition, we map ftp and e-mail for your domain to your shell account here.
As time went by numerous web hosting companies sprung up offering web hosting packages with a low base price, but then they charge for data "exported", meaning sent over the web in response to traffic on their website, after some data quota. Essentially, they took web hosting from a flat-rate concept to a measured-rate concept. This was a marketing advantage for these companies because it made it appear their costs were extremely competitive, until customers got the bill for the data export fees. Many of these companies are very slimy and hide the details of their data export fees in very fine print linked two or three levels deep off their main page so customers get surprised by unexpectedly large bills when their website starts to get traffic.
To compete with these offerings we now offer personal and business web hosting accounts that are structured this way, except that we put information about our data export fees up front on the same page that describes the service in standard sized font so that you can actually know what you're going to be charged up front. This might be somewhat of a marketing disadvantage but I figure in the long run after people get stung by other providers they'll figure it out. Well, I hope that they will. Anyway, I hope that helps you make sense of the different web hosting plans. Also see Creating a Website, and Website Development.