What is a website?

Ever wondered what exactly a website is?

With thanks to Google, this post will try to explain what a website is and give a technical overview of how it works too.

A website is the home on the internet for your business or organisation

It's where possible customers will go to find out about your business and what it can offer them.

In the same way that a shop has a physical address which it normally rents, a website is the same but instead of renting space on a street it rents space on a server.

What is a server?

A server is basically a computer which is connected to the Internet.  It stores (or hosts) the things that make up your website (the computer code, the pictures, the videos etc.).  The reason it's called a server is because it "serves" you the content you need when requested; i.e. when someone wants to view a page of a website.

Different companies can rent you space on a server and host your website.  Like you would with a shop, you pay an on-going hosting fee, similar to paying rent, and they look after the technical aspects of using the server so you don't have to.  This can include : making sure the software is up to date, on a regular basis checking everything is working as expected, taking copies of the site in case issues happen and it needs to be restored, keeping the site secure (including paying for and maintaining a security certificate), and other aspects of running the website.

IP address

In the same way a shop location has a physical address, every single server in the world has its own address called an IP address (IP means internet protocol).

It's a set of numbers which means that a device on the internet can find the server and communicate with it.

Domain Name

Rather than having to type in a long set of numbers to find a website, a domain name (also known as a web address) is a more user-friendly way of referencing an IP address.

Your domain name is how potential visitors will find you, i.e. the equivalent of a sign above a real life shop.

It's what people would type into a browser window to go to a website (e.g. www.silverwebsites.co.uk).

Everything after the www part is the domain name.  In fact you don't even need to type in the www part, e.g. you could just type https://silverwebsites.co.uk.

A device that searches for this address (laptop, tablet, mobile etc.) is communicating with the server. The server then sends that device all the bits and bobs to display the website so the device can view the website pages.

How does it work?

When someone types your web address into their browser, here’s what happens...  First of all, their browser finds out which server hosts the website, next the browser asks for the website content from the server.  The server then sends it all back and the browser then displays the web page in full.