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What is a web site?

What is a web site?

A web site is a collection of documents and files that can be viewed in a web browser program. A typical web site consists of pages, called web pages. These pages can contain text and multimedia elements such as images, video, audio or animation embedded.

The collection of web pages along with the multimedia files makes a web site. Web pages are developed using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) which is fairly simple to learn because, contrary to what it’s called, it’s not a language per se. HTML consists of tags that provide structure to a web page, that is, mark out headings, paragraphs, lists etc.

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Nowadays, you don’t need to know HTML to create a web site because there are programs available that will “write” the HTML code for you. These WYSIYWG HTML editors let you design the web page by placing text, images and other elements as you want – you visually design a web page. Once satisfied, you can save (publish) the page as a HTML document. By the way, WYSIYWG was not a spelling mistake – it stands for What You See Is What You Get.

Different web pages on the site are linked to each other (again using HTML code). Pages from one web site can also be linked to pages on other web sites. Probably, the most important page on any web site is the home page which is what one gets to see when one loads the web site address (URL) in a web browser. The home page is like an entry point – a starting page – of the web site and, typically, links to all other important sections and pages of the web site.

Where are web sites located on the internet?

The internet is a network of computers scattered around the world. These machines are connected to each other forming a sort of “digital web”. In fact, when you connect your computer to this network, it becomes a part of the internet! Most Web sites are located on web servers – computers that are connected to the Internet 24/7.

Web servers are not the same as your conventional desktop or laptop because they generally have different hardware and software. Web servers store all the contents of the web site including web pages, images, audio and video files etc. on their hard-disk and have the endless (and, probably, very boring) job of “serving” the web pages and associated files.

FYI, you can also host a web site from your home or office computer but I won’t advise that as taking a little hard disk space from a reliable web hosting company much easier, convenient and a hassle-free option.

Different types of web sites

The internet contains millions and millions of web sites. They can be small (like a one or a 10 page web site) or large consisting of thousands and thousands of pages. Though it is difficult to classify web sites into distinct categories because of the sheer diversity, here is a little attempt from my side:

  • Company web sites – example www.simplygraphix.com is a web development firm
  • Web sites disbursing information – like this one
  • Search engines and portals like www.google.com, www.live.com, www.msn.com or www.yahoo.com
  • Blogs, online diaries and personal web sites. With tons of online services offering free blogs, it’s now very easy to create one for yourself. Run off to www.blogger.com and start on your blog.
  • Forum web sites that promote community interaction – www.webmasterworld.com and http://forums.digitalpoint.com/ are popular web development forum web sites. You can find forums on almost anything – www.ihatebutterflies.com is for butterfly haters!
  • Social networking web sites. I suppose forums (above) are social networking sites too, but with more and more such sites popping up, it’s better to put the former as a separate type. Anyway, social networking web sites like www.twitter.com, www.linkedin.com or www.facebook.com allow you to connect and stay in touch with your friends and family. Also, I would not be wrong in saying that your profile page (or your section) on such web sites is almost like your own web site! It’s your site and its on the web, right?
  • Online services such as email – www.google.com/gmail, www.hotmail.com etc.
  • Online shops and auction web sites – www.ebay.com (the most popular of all). In fact, all big businesses have a section on their web site where visitors can go and directly purchase online. A good example is www.walmart.com. There are also dedicated online stores such as www.overstock.com and, yes, the famous www.amazon.com.

Please read types of web sites for more information.

Steps to create a web site

I’m going to make this really brief because you can find more information in separate articles on this web site or on the internet (use www.google.com to search for required information). Follow the steps below to create your web site and also refer the page on how do I create a web site for details.

  • The paperwork: decide why you want to have a web site and what you want to portray on it.
  • Visit other web sites, especially those of your competition. This should give you ample ideas.
  • Now that you have planned the web site layout and structure, write the content of each web page and decide which images you want to use. Do not blatantly copy text from other web sites – be original. Also refer the article on using web images.
  • Register a domain name: If you are serious in getting a web site (such as for your business), I strongly advise getting a domain name. The process of registering a name for your site is very simple. Refer how to get a domain name for details.
  • Creating the web site: There are different ways you can approach this. You can either learn HTML, use an HTML editor or get the web site developed by a professional company. If you are a complete newbie, I recommend the last option. Do not be stingy by asking nephew Johnny to create your web site, unless he is a professional, because you may regret it later!
  • Purchase hosting: As mentioned before, web sites need to be located on web servers. To store your site on such a machine, you need to purchase a web hosting package which is provided by hundreds (of not thousands) or companies in the world. Web hosting is very cheap nowadays – refer how to choose a reliable web site hosting company.
  • Upload web site files on the web server: And once you do that, your site would be available to everyone!
  • Helping people find your web site: Read about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or hire a professional.

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