Unveiling the Mechanics Behind Websites

Working on websites? Before you begin creating your own website and launch it on the Internet, it’s important to know how websites work.

Here are some basic terms: 

  • website is simply a collection of web pages of codes – codes that describe the layout, format, and content on a page. 
  • The web server is an internet-connected computer that receives the request for a web page sent by your browser.
  • The browser connects your computer to the server through an IP address. The IP address is obtained by translating the domain name. (Don’t worry, this part is all done automatically by your browser so you don’t have to look up the IP addresses yourself.)
Working of websites
How do websites work?

In other words, in order to display your website on the Internet, you will need:

  • A website
  • A domain name
  • A server 

 A website

A website is often made up of a number of web pages, photos, and other components that are linked to create a single, more comprehensive document. Consider a website as a book, with each page representing a web page.

A website may consist of just one page or it may contain thousands of pages. Text, photos, and other components will all be unique to each page. Then, on your web host server, a folder containing all of the web pages and components is created and stored.

Each web page is composed of codes that describe the organization, style, and content of the page. HTML is the most widely used coding language for building websites.

Working of websites

Creating a website

However, just because a web page is written in code does not imply that you must be an IT expert to develop one. Nowadays, you don’t even need to know how to code or have any other technical abilities or knowledge to build a website.

The ability to create functional, attractive websites without much or any technical skills has greatly increased thanks to technological advancements.

If you have little to no technical knowledge and experience, the best is to use a website builder to create your website. The majority of website builders on the market are designed with the non-tech person in mind:

# Everything is based online. Nothing needs to be downloaded or installed. Simply launch your web browser, enter the website builder’s URL, log in, and begin creating your website.

# No technological expertise is necessary. Since the website builders are designed and maintained by experts, you don’t need to fiddle with the technical details. You can build a fully functional website from scratch without writing a single line of code.

# It’s visual. Website builders typically use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor that lets you create your website by dragging and dropping website elements into the desired location.

# Professionally-designed templates. You don’t have to worry about mismatched color schemes or disjointed layouts as most website builders come with an extensive library of professional design templates. 

For those who have some technical knowledge and experience and are looking to build a powerful, flexible, highly customized website, there is always the option to choose a content management system, such as WordPress.

A domain name

A domain name is an address that you type into your web browser address bar to get to a website. An example of a domain name is www.locas.in A domain name is unique to a website. In other words, no two websites can have the same domain name.

While it is accurate to say that a custom domain name is not always necessary for websites. A free plan with a free website address is available from several website builders. However, these free web addresses are provided in the form of a sub-domain. For instance, your free website URL might be http://yourname.example.com if your website builder is “example.com”.

A web server 

web server is a computer that receives the request for a web page sent by your browser. 

Consider this: your company is hiring for a position that has just opened up and you are in charge of writing the job ad. You may have crafted the most compelling ad but unless you post the ad on a job board, no one will see it.

This is the same with websites. You could create the most stunning website but unless it’s uploaded to a web server, it is not accessible or viewable on the Internet. 

You can certainly set up your own server at home, but it would require a huge amount of knowledge, time, and resources (ie. power and Internet connection). Paying a web hosting service provider would be the more logical, economical, and practical thing to do. Think if it like renting a space on a web host’s server. For a monthly fee, web hosting providers let you use space on their servers to host your website, and because it’s their server, they take care of all the technical aspects of setting up and maintaining the server, as well as all the resources needed to run the server, so you don’t have to worry about anything.

How it all comes together

Say you open your web browser and type in a domain name, your browser will display the web pages of the domain name you’ve entered. 

But have you wondered how your web browser knows what information to display? 

Working of websites

Each website will have a website address or a domain name, and each domain name is tied to the IP address of the web server it resides on. IP addresses are managed and tracked via the Domain Name Server (or DNS for short). 

DNS works very similarly to the Contacts app on your mobile phone – you open up the Contacts app. Then type in a person’s name and your mobile phone returns with the person’s phone number and other contact information you might have entered. You can then decide if you want to call, email, or text that person. 

When you type a domain name into your web browser, it conducts a series of queries. This includes looking up the domain name’s IP address and locating the web server that hosts the domain name’s web pages.

It submits a request to that server for a copy of the web page(s), receives the web page(s) from the server, and finally translates the codes on the web page to present the information on your screen.

Fascinating, isn’t it? And that’s the basics of how websites work.

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