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What is a website? Definition + examples


What is a website

Before the internet age fundamentally changed global communication, businesses relied on things like newspaper ads, flyers and word-of-mouth to reach customers. But in today's digital world, an online presence is essential, including creating a website. With 73% of small businesses owning websites, a strong online presence is a prerequisite for brand recognition, lead generation and operating a successful venture, both on and offline. 


With drag and drop tools and AI website builders, website creation has evolved and changed the way in which people carve out their digital presence. Before diving in, it’s necessary to understand the basics—like what is a website and why do you need one? This article will cover website definitions, the characteristics of the various types of sites and why it's important to build a website.



What is a website?


A website is a place on the internet where you can easily post information about yourself, your business or topics you're passionate about. It's like having your own corner of the web to showcase your ideas and connect with others. Whether you're looking to share knowledge, sell online, communicate with others, learn something new or simply have fun—websites serve a variety of purposes. To access a website, users simply need a device with a web browser—like laptops, smartphones or tablets—along with an Internet connection.



What are websites used for?


From personal blogs to e-commerce stores, websites have become a crucial part of our routines, offering convenience and accessibility. Whether it's for entertainment, education, or business, websites are digital platforms that enable communication, information sharing, and online transactions. 



Websites can be used for personal purposes, such as blogging or sharing information about hobbies and interests. For businesses, a website serves as an online storefront where customers can view products or services, make purchases and reach out for customer support.


They are also commonly used for education purposes, with many schools and universities having their own websites to share information and resources with students. Additionally, organizations and nonprofits use websites to raise awareness about their causes and connect with potential donors.




How does a website work?


The first thing to understand is the internet and the web that provide a ground for websites. The internet is the technology or infrastructure connecting computers and facilitating information sharing. The web is the system that enables information sharing using the internet. It encompasses digital documents, websites, webpages, media and more. To view web content, we use web browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox or Safari.


When you enter a web address or domain name into your browser, your computer sends a request to the hosting server. This request passes through the Domain Name System (DNS) to look up the server's internet protocol (IP) address. The web service uses protocols like Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to transmit information and files over the web.


Once the server receives the request, it sends back the requested webpage, along with images and other files, to your computer. The browser then displays the webpage using technologies like HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). These technologies structure and present the information on the screen. Website loading time depends on a range of factors like server speed, internet connection quality and website size and complexity.



How web hosting works


Difference between website, webpage and web server 


Understanding the distinctions between a website, webpage and web server is key for effective navigation in the digital landscape. Let's use a simple analogy—imagine a bustling marketplace. The website is like the marketplace itself, and each webpage is a unique stall or shop within it. Similar to a marketplace, each webpage offers different products—information, images and services —just like the goods in a shop. Now, picture the internet as the city where the marketplace is located, a vast network connecting countless marketplaces (websites). It's like exploring a city full of interconnected markets, each with its own offerings.



Webpage


A webpage is a single document or page within a website. Websites can have multiple webpages, all linked together by hyperlinks, to display a cohesive website. The page you're currently on is a webpage. When you go to the home page, you're on a separate webpage, but still within the same website. 



Web server 


A web server is a computer that stores and delivers webpages to users when they request them. It is the physical location where all the files and data for a website are stored. When someone types in your website's URL, the server gets the necessary files and displays them to create the webpage.



Website


A website is a collection of webpages that are accessed with a single domain name or URL. It includes all the individual pages, multimedia details and files stored on a web server. Websites are built using languages like HTML, CSS and JavaScript to make visually appealing layouts and functionality. 


Don't confuse websites and web servers. If someone says, "My website is not responding," it means the web server isn't responding, making the website unavailable. Remember, a web server can host multiple websites, but the term "web server" doesn’t refer to a specific website. In the previous example, if someone says, "My web server is not responding," it means multiple websites on that web server are unavailable.



Website definitions


A website is a collection of webpages hosted on a web server. In order to create a website, you need several components. Here’s what you need to get started:



Domain name


To reach your site, individuals type in a unique web address that typically reflects your business or brand name and ends with a domain extension like .com, .org, or .net. Registering your website name with a domain registration company, also known as a domain registrar, is necessary to secure this distinctive internet address.


Tip: When you make a website with Wix, you can opt for domain privacy for no extra fee, when you register your domain. 



Domain extension


Also known as top-level domains (TLD), domain extensions can quickly identify specific elements of a website like its main purpose, owner or geographic location. You can check out ICANN’s complete list of domain extensions here, or check out these guides:




Webpages


Webpages, also known as individual documents within a website, present information to users. Each webpage should serve a specific purpose and contribute to the overall user experience by providing valuable material, images and interactive elements. Some websites may be concise and focused, with only a few pages, while others offer an array of information and services to cater to diverse user needs.



Web host


This is the service that stores your website's files and makes them accessible to users on the internet. By choosing the appropriate plan for hosting a website, you can optimize performance, enhance security and provide an exceptional usability to your visitors. 



URL address


The address of a website is also known as the Universal Resource Locator (URL). When a user wants to open a website then they need to put the URL of the website into a web browser and the requested website is delivered by the web server. The URL of the Wix Blog for example, https://www.wix.com/blog is composed of three parts: 


  1. Protocol identifier: Defines the protocol used to access the webpage (usually HTTP or HTTPS)

  2. Server name: Refers to the domain name and extension where the web server is located (wix.com)

  3. File name: Indicates the specific page or resource on that web server (blog)



Homepage


The homepage is a very common and important part of the website. It serves as the initial point of contact for viewers, setting the tone and guiding them to explore the rest of the website. Thinking through and making a homepage not only showcases the brand's identity but also directs users to other relevant pages.



Navigation structure


Website navigation is the order of pages and the collection of links that connect them. When done correctly, it creates a smooth and intuitive browsing. Typically, this structure is supported by one or more menus, strategically placed to make it easy for users to find what they need and move around the sections of the website. 



Templates


A website template is a pre-made design that includes the layout, color scheme, font choice and all visual elements. It's like a ready-to-use blueprint for your brand's online presence. With Wix, you'll find a wide range of templates, from striking photography website templates to stylish blog templates. These templates can be customized to fit your brand and content needs. 



Wix customizeable templates


Multimedia elements


These include a wide range of multimedia details such as images, videos, audio files and interactive website features like animations and adaptive content. When used correctly, these elements can make a website engaging, informative and visually appealing.



Content


Content is the information you put on your website to inform, guide, or influence visitors. This information can be presented with text, images, videos or audio recordings. Similar to website design, the primary responsibility of content is to keep people engaged, resulting in longer stays and repeat visits to your site. Additionally, well-optimized articles can improve your position on search engine result pages (SERPs), playing a crucial role in on-page search engine optimization (SEO).


There are over 2 billion websites out there and we all visit many of them daily. With visual and textual content you have the opportunity to make a statement and have your site stand out. This is the place to add your brand personality. If you are more traditional, no need to go wild. Often, unique copy or a cool visual is all you need for your site to be memorable.

Adi Huri, Product Manager at Wow for Wix



Static vs dynamic websites


When it comes to creating your website, you'll face an important decision: choosing between a static vs dynamic website. This choice will affect how your webpages are stored and delivered to users in their browsers. Let's take a closer look at these website structures.



Static websites


A static website is a collection of pre-written webpages that are displayed as published. These sites aren't interactive, meaning the material on each page remains the same until manually updated. The information and appearance of static websites remain consistent for all viewers, regardless of their browsers, locations or devices. Often, businesses opt for static websites to establish a simple online presence, as they are cost-effective without requiring server-side processing in multiple languages.


While static webpages can't take input from users, they can still contain animations and clickable elements like hyperlinks or navigation buttons. This makes them a popular choice for portfolio and catalog sites.


V-labs is an example of a static website. It displays text, images and navigation links that direct visitors to other pages.



V-labs static website


Dynamic websites


Dynamic websites are more flexible and user-friendly. They can change information and appearance based on several factors, including the time of the day, visitor’s location, language preferences, past interactions with the site or device type. With these sites, the web server processes data in real-time to generate customized pages for each visitor. Dynamic websites can interact with users through forms, surveys, quizzes and other interactive factors that require server-side processing.


This makes dynamic websites most suited for eCommerce business, social media, ticket booking and forums. These sites also allow individuals to set up accounts, login and access personalized information or services.


Amazon.com is a popular example of a dynamic site. Its front page shows product recommendations to visitors based on their locations, purchases and search history.



Types of websites


Websites can also be broken down into categories based on their objectives, features or target audiences. Whether you’re starting a business or simply want to start a blog, understanding the difference between these types of websites will help you get started.



Blogs


These sites are used to publish articles or posts in a chronological order, covering a wide range of topics from personal stories to news, as well as thoughtful essays, tutorials or practical advice lists. Keeping blog content up to date—as well as the feedback from users—must be constant. Many businesses start a blog to share news and information with their customers, using it as an SEO tool, attracting more organic visitors. Nowadays, professional blogging has emerged as a popular way to earn money online.


As an interior stylist and digital content creator, Brit Arnesen uses her blog, britdotdesign, as a platform to provide design inspiration and expertise to her readers.



Britdotdesign blog website


eCommerce


An eCommerce website is an online store that helps you sell products, services and digital goods online by enabling you to accept payments, process orders, manage logistics and shipping and offer customer help. These websites are made up of several webpages where businesses show their products and users can place orders online, complete the transaction and apply various payment methods.


Adama Studio creates modern, practical ceramic items for everyday use. Their website has an online store where customers can easily purchase and have products shipped.



Adama Studio ecommerce website


Portfolio


An online portfolio showcases a person's or business' work, skills and experience. It's used to attract prospective clients, employers or partners by sharing your previous projects. A portfolio website can house images, videos, descriptions of the services provided as well as client testimonials.


Sharon Radisch is a multi-talented creative who works as a photographer, art director and artist. Her online portfolio highlights the various projects she has undertaken in each of these roles.



Sharon Radisch portfolio website


Websites for professional services


Professional websites aim to encourage users to purchase products or services, but without strictly serving as an eCommerce site. The main individuals who create a professional website are users from various fields, including suppliers and service companies. Their sales process works best through a quote or an in-person appointment.


Mango Marketing’s website outlines their studio service packages for businesses looking to expand their business and enhance their online visibility.



Mango Marketing professional services website


Landing page or single page sites


One-page websites' popularity has grown because they are simple and easy to navigate. These websites concentrate all information on a single landing page, making them effective and cost-efficient for launching special products or services. Typically used by small businesses, they act as a digital business card, displaying contact information and advertising services.


Animal Music Studios utilizes engaging videos and a navigation menu at the top to guide users to the different sections of the one-page site.



Animal Music Studios landing page website


News


News websites present news articles, current events and other relevant information. They often include details like videos and images to support their stories. News sites update regularly and can be categorized into different sections such as world news, politics, sports or entertainment. As more individuals consume news online, newspapers have adapted by transitioning to digital. Many magazines and newspapers now offer subscription-based news sites as they no longer rely on print editions. 


New Wave Magazine is a digital publication that also offers print editions. Readers can access articles on their website and purchase print copies through their online store.



New Wave Magazine news website


Portal


Portal websites are primarily used within educational institutions like schools and institutes, as well as businesses. They make things easier by providing various functions, including a secure login process for students to view their information like grades and schedules. Employees also benefit from these websites, as they offer a convenient way to access emails, alerts and other relevant information needed for day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.


Jule Dancewear, is a small business that sells dance apparel. They have a website where customers can create an account to save their profile information, view order history, save blog posts they are interested in and create wish lists of products they may want to purchase in the future.



Jule Dancewear portal website


Forums


Forum websites bring people with similar interests together to connect and engage with each other. You can use timelines, chats or specialized forums to interact. Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Reddit are great examples of forums where you can connect with others who share your interests.


Brown Skin Brunchin is a community for professional minority women. The website features a forum where members can connect by posting introductions, having discussions and sharing stories, ideas and photos.



Brown Skin Brunchin forum website


Why you need a website


Whether you are a small start-up or an existing company, the benefits of a website can not be understated.



Increase competitiveness


A website can enhance your brand identity and make you stand out among competitors.  With many businesses relying on online sales, having an engaging and well planned website can give you a competitive advantage. A business website allows you to showcase your products or services in an attractive and informative manner, encouraging potential customers to choose your business over others.



Reach a wider audience


Reaching a larger audience beyond your local community is made possible by creating a website. With the internet, your business can be accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This increases your customer base and opens up opportunities for growth and expansion.



Cost-effective marketing


79% of online buyers shop at least once per month. If you want to attract more people, one of the best ways is by making yourself visible on Google. You can employ search engine optimization (SEO) methods to help your website rank organically.



Sell products and services online


With an eCommerce website, you can sell your products and services online, reaching a wider customer base. This allows for 24/7 sales potential and removes geographical limitations. Online shopping is also becoming increasingly popular, making it essential for businesses to build an eCommerce site.



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How to create a website


Now that you've learned about how websites work and the different types of websites, you might be considering one for your business. Let's explore what you'll need to start your own website. With this knowledge, you'll be empowered to build a website that suits your business needs.


Ready to set up your website? Watch the 10 most essential Wix tutorials to get started.



Outline your website idea


The first step is to have a clear idea of what you want your website to achieve. This will help you determine the type of website that best suits your needs and goals. Consider what products or services you offer, who your target audience is and how you would like to present your brand online. Learn how to plan a website to help you in the following steps.



Choose a domain name and web hosting


Your domain name acts as the digital address of your site so users can easily find you online. When selecting a domain name, it's important to pick one that reflects your brand and is memorable. Avoid using hyphens and numbers and aim for a short domain name. If you're struggling to come up with ideas, try using our domain name generator to find a suitable name. 


Tip: Use Wix’s domain name search to check if your desired domain name is available.



Wix domain name generator


Pick a website building platform


Fortunately, creating a website has become very accessible even for people without a technical background. In fact, you can turn your website idea into a fully functional site using a drag and drop website builder and all of the functionalities that come with it. 



Select a web hosting provider


Once you've chosen a platform to build your website, you'll need a web host. Web hosting is the service that stores your website files and makes them available to your customers when they visit your site. Your host handles all the HTTP requests and delivers the necessary files to fulfill those requests whenever someone accesses your website. Web hosts also support you with backups, uptime and security maintenance. When selecting a hosting website, consider cost, features, security and support. Wix's free web hosting allows you to easily scale your hosting as your online business grows.



Design your website


Creating a successful website involves more than just visual appeal. It's about establishing a cohesive brand identity, ensuring a user-friendly experience and utilizing effective web design elements. Consider factors such as your logo, color schemes and typography to reflect your brand's personality. When designing a website of your own, you can use website templates that aligns with your brand and guides and prioritizes user interface (UI) to provide seamless browsing. Check out these examples of web design inspiration.



Add page content and optimize for SEO


Your content is the heart of your website. Use engaging and informative material to attract and retain visitors. Your website should be easy to navigate, with a clear call-to-action on each page to encourage users to take specific actions, such as completing a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.


When creating your website, keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. This involves optimizing your website to improve its ranking on search engines like Google. This will help increase your visibility and drive more traffic to your site. Some tips for optimizing your website include using relevant keywords, creating high-quality information and ensuring fast page loading speeds.



Launch and maintain your website


Once you've completed all the necessary steps, use a website checklist when launching a new website. However, building a successful online presence does not end here. Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping your site up-to-date. This means updating pages, monitoring for any technical issues and keeping up with SEO techniques to maintain or improve your search engine ranking. Additionally, regularly checking in with your audience and collecting feedback can help you continually improve and enhance your website's performance.



What is a website FAQ


What is the most common website type?

The most common website type is a business or eCommerce website, followed by personal websites and blogs. However, this can vary depending on the purpose and industry of the website.  With so many website types available, there is certainly one that will suit your needs and goals.

What is the role of the DNS in a website?

What are website cookies?

Why do some websites look different on my phone?

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