What Is a Website? Everything You Need to Know
Website is a term that many of us hear multiple times a day. However, with nearly every person, business and organization around us having an online presence, it may have become confusing what the essence of a website truly is. You might be wondering what components make up websites and perhaps how you can make your own.
This article answers the question “what is a website” by going over the history and development of websites, how they work and the types of sites out there, as well as shows you how to create a website of your own.
What is a website technically speaking
A website is a series of webpages bound together by a common domain name and displayed on web servers. Essentially, a website is a home for all the information you want to put out on the web. The information on your site is typically made up of a combination of text, images, videos and icons that come together to tell a unified story.
All of this content is added to a site using HTML, which is a markup language that web servers can read and use to display the relevant information. Nowadays, many websites can be created with website builders like Wix that enable anyone to build a site. This doesn't eliminate HTML, rather just means that it will be created for you by a tool.
A brief history of websites
After the conceptualization of the internet and a series of technological advancements paved the way, the first website, as we know it today, launched in 1991. Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist, is responsible for creating the world wide web and for facilitating the communication of HTML documents with web servers. This enabled content to be displayed on the internet in the way we have become accustomed to.
Since then, websites have developed quite a bit. Various different systems for the building, design and presentation of sites have come and gone. Perhaps most notably, the continued development of HTML and CSS has led to a revolution in how dynamic websites can be. Websites now feature advanced design elements as well as responsive features to adapt to the ever changing manner in which people browse the web.
Should you create your own website
With the surge of the internet and the general accessibility of website builders, more people are creating their own sites. Websites enable anyone to do things like sell items online or share their thoughts via a blog. However, increasingly people are also creating personal websites which simply enable them to display who they are online. Similar to a resume or a portfolio, a personal site is a homepage dedicated to you and your accomplishments. Many people have a personal website for their careers, while others use this type of site in a similar way to a profile on social media.
We strongly recommend that everyone create a site of their own to build up their online presence. The best way to do so if you are unfamiliar with languages like HTML is by using a website builder. This will enable you to drag and drop any elements you want onto your site with ease, allowing you to see what your site will look like right away. To help you through the process, we suggest you read our comprehensive guide to making a website with Wix.
Different website forms
As you consider the creation of your own site, you’ll need to know what kind of websites exist, as well as have an understanding of the true differences between them. To help facilitate this, you can read up on the various types of websites and choose the one most fitting for you.
Generally speaking, websites can be broken down into three overarching categories: static, dynamic and complex.
Static websites are sites that do not adapt, but instead have fixed elements. They are made up of pages coded with HTML and always appear the same unless you go into the backend of a page to change its code. These are often the simplest form of website to create as they do not require any form of flexibility. Any website type can be static, it simply requires greater upkeep should you choose to make a change to your site.
Dynamic websites are sites that adapt according to circumstances and users. They utilize databases which can then present varying information across many pages depending on a number of factors. These might include who is accessing the pages, when they are being accessed, and more. For example an eCommerce website with a shopping cart would have to be dynamic as it changes per user.
This strategy is often used by large websites since the maintenance is lower. Instead of having to manually change things on every webpage, dynamic pages let the site owner set a parameter that will change automatically across all pages.
Complex websites use a combination of methods or web applications in tandem. This is typically used on sites that have multiple parts, like an online store with a blog, or a portfolio with a forum. Many websites utilize this combination of applications in order to maximize user interactions with their sites. For example, an online store with a blog might attract both people who are looking to purchase your products as well as those who might be searching for some more explanatory information. No matter what type of website you create, consider making yours a complex site so that you can meet the needs of all of your visitors.
Additional website components
Perhaps the most essential piece of information to understand about websites, is that they are more than simply the content we see on our screens. Multiple components go into every live site. While much of the work required for creating a website focuses on the design and content, there are a couple of other factors to consider in order to get a website up and running.
Web hosting gives a home to websites and enables them to be displayed online. Web hosts are servers that store the information that stands behind each and every website. These servers work to ensure that your site will appear on a visitor's screen whenever they try to access it.
Often, if you create a website you will need to find a web hosting provider. However, if you create your website with Wix, you will simply need to hit the publish button and your site will be hosted online for free.
Another key part of websites is the domain. A domain name is the web address of your site. This is what makes it easily identifiable and findable online. Often, domain names are the same as a brand name. For example, if you have a brand name olive, you might have a domain name of olive.net.
Domain names have to be purchased through official domain registrars as no two domain names can be exactly the same. This ensures that every site has a unique online presence. If you’re looking to find an available domain name and register it, we suggest starting with Wix’s domain name tool.
By Amanda Weiner
Content Optimization Specialist