How Do Websites Work?

It’s all very well wanting to set up a website of your very own – but do you really know how one works?  Creating a website isn’t just about putting text and images together on a page. It’s about building something that can both hold all of your information and which can easily accommodate hundreds and thousands of visitors regularly.  A simple web page or two often isn’t enough these days to satisfy business or customer needs.

So – where do we start when it comes to describing how websites work? Let’s take a look at the bigger picture stroke by stroke.  It’s simpler than you think!

What is a Website?

A website, ultimately, is code, or a collection of code.  From a visitor’s point of view, it is a collection of information or data which helps to build up the image of a business or brand.  Think about your website the same way you might think about physical merchandising in a shop. It’s a collection of items and information which pool together to give customers access to what they need.  If it is badly organised, or if stock needs updating, it will be unappealing to them.

However, if it is well organised, and if they can make decisions regarding their purchase from the information they have been provided, they will be more likely to want to follow through with a sale.  Behind the scenes, the term ‘website’ also applies to all of the placeholders, graphics and formatting involved along the way.

What is a Web Server or Host?

Without a web server or a host, there simply isn’t a website.  You have a collection of information which won’t be viewable by the public.  You need to partner with a web host, or a server, to be able to upload your website to the internet.

If we think back to this idea of a website being like your store merchandising, a web server would probably be referred to as the store itself.  A server is, in effect, a single system or computer which delivers web content to browsers, and therefore to people browsing the internet.  Without a store, you don’t have anywhere to sell your items!

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is the address visitors will use to visit your website directly.  These can be bought to cement your place on the internet and can be tied in with your website to ensure that people get to your services through the right means.

Again, let’s think back to the store analogy.  A domain name is, in effect, the address of your shop.  People won’t be able to find you, unless by accident, without a domain name.  This is why it is so important to come up with an address which is as unique to you as possible.  This isn’t always so easy, but you can get creative.

How do e-commerce websites work

E-Commerce websites are sites you can buy products from. In most cases e-com websites are partnered up with a payment gateway such as PayPal. It is very important for an e-commerce website to have an SSL as it is a major trust signal for your site and it also helps new customers trust your online brand & appearance.

What is an SSL?

SSL short for Secure Sockets Layer. Provides a layer of encryption when establishing a link between your browser and web-server which the website is hosted on. The link is there to ensure that any data passed between the server and browser remains private and encrypted at all time hence why it is so important for e-commerce stores when handling sensitive data to have an SSL on the website.

How Do I Create a Website?

Creating a website is, ultimately, the tricky part.  However, it has become much easier over the years thanks to advancements in technology, and thanks to the rise of content management systems or CRMs.  These platforms might include WordPress, Wix, Tumblr or Blogger.  These services are public-facing and are marketed at people who want to hit the ground running.  They are also appealing to people who are concerned about the technical side of things, and who don’t want to muddle around.

However, for greater customisation and for a more streamlined approach, building a website with a web design firm will be your best option.  Not only will you be able to leave all of the technical aspects to the experts, but you will also be able to wield complete control over your desired designs and functionality.  A good web design firm will be able to work closely with you to bring your desired look to life without any of the need for confusing hassle.

A web design firm may also work with a CRM to allow you to make changes and suggestions seamlessly.  CRMs allow you to break down the various elements of a website in digestible amounts.  Appealing dashboard software offered by services such as WordPress hide away the technical aspects of code and more besides.  Functionality is instead presented in a user-friendly way so that you can easily make your own tweaks if you need to.

So How Does a Website Come Together?

By using a web browser, or a program that visitors can use to navigate the internet, your customers will be able to enter in your domain name to bring up your website.  However, things are perhaps a little more complicated than that.

Your web browser displays a requested website by checking out its IP address and by actively requesting that the server involved provides it with a copy. It’s making enquiries on your behalf!  The IP address is used to identify the location of a server so that it knows where to send its requests to.

Your browser will then work doubly hard to convert the code it receives from the server (once a request is honoured), and it will display the website you have requested.  It all does this in such a short space of time – it really can be quite incredible.  While there is a lot of code involved behind the scenes and under the hood, it is simply a case of a web browser asking for the right information, and for a server to deliver a website willingly.

how websites work

Setting Up Your Own Website

Setting up a website of your own doesn’t have to be difficult.  With the right team and a few big ideas in mind, there will be no reason why you can’t make a fantastic, unique website and online presence work for you.

If you need a completely new website or need help managing your current web copy, contact our team and we’d be happy to give you more information.