A large number of our clients are small business owners and non-technical. Even if they are, they are not computer savvy. Even within technology related businesses, we have clients who are not familiar with web design and its technical terms and vocabulary. They don’t know how websites work. In this post we try to explain how websites work in simple words. This article is written for small business owners who would like to have a website for their business, but do not know much about the internet, websites and how they work.
To understand how websites work, we start from where it starts: ” Web Browser” or in short “Browser“. A browser is a software application installed on our computers, which will allow us surf the internet and visit websites. You are using a browser as you are reading this post. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome are the major browsers every computer is equipped with. The browser is the gateway to the internet. Browsers might be a little bit different from one another in displaying websites. A website that looks great on Safari might have some issues on Firefox, and that’s why you hear the term “Cross-Browser“. Cross-Browser means the website that you are looking at has already been tested with different browsers and functions and looks good in all the browsers. So remember that one of the qualifications of a good website design is Cross Browser compatibility.
The domain names function the same as your business or office address. A domain name is an address on the internet. As people are able to visit your office or business location, browsers will direct visitors and display your website by pointing to your web address. Whenever you visit a website, you can see the domain name in the address bar on the top of your browser. A domain name is a unique name that can represent your brand, the nature of your business, your location and etc. For instance: www.apple.com. In this web address www is the prefix short for “World Wide Web” and apple is the domain which in this case is representing a brand and .com is the suffix or extension that shows you domain level. Some of the major top level domains are .Com, .Net, .Org and .Info. In order to have a website, you need to register your ideal domain name. There are many domain name registrars who can register your domain. Godaddy, Yahoo and Domain.com are a few of them. The domain registration fee covers a full year, and needs to be renewed every year.
As you rent a place for your business or office, you need to rent a space on the web for your website as well. A domain acts like your business name, now you need a building to put the name on the top of it. The web space is absolutely empty as your business building that you have rented for your business. It is always the tenant who is responsible to decorate the space and bring in the merchandise or start offering service to clients. Same with a web host, you rent the space and then leave it to a web designer to create your website. A website is consisted of files and folders and images, and web host is the physical space on a server computer to hold your website files so browsers can display it on their screen when they point to your website. Just like domain names, there is a fee for hosting. It is a monthly fee and normally there is more discount if you sign a year long contract. Most of the times, the domain registrar offers web hosting as well, and it would be more convenient to purchase the domain and web hosting both from the same company.
After registering your domain and getting a web host, the third essential part is having a web page. A web page is a file hosted on your web server telling web browsers how to display your information on the screen. A simple web page is normally created by using HTML which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. An HTML web page is filled with text and images wrapped in HTML Tags. The HTML Tags give instructions to web browsers regarding how to display the text and images. To show you a simple HTML tag, lets look at the title of this post. The HTML Tag for “HOW WEBSITES WORK” is this: “<h1>HOW WEBSITES WORK</h1>“. H stands for the header and 1 indicates the size. Every web page created in HTML has a file extension of .html
This is how your website is being accessed and displayed in a browser: the internet user types in your domain in the address bar, then the browsers point to your domain, then your domain directs the browser to your web host and then browser picks the “Home Page” and starts displaying your website. As you might have noticed, the browser is not going to show any other pages but the “Home Page”. Unless other pages are linked to the home page, they will not be shown in your website. So it is through the home page that the site visitor will access other pages and then easily go back to the home page. It is called Site Structure or Site hierarchy.
Let’s say you just learned how websites work, and you registered your domain name, got your hosting and had a well structured website created, so is it really enough to expand your market and attract new clients? The answer is a big “no” and this is why:
All the things we mentioned above are necessary in order to have a web presence. Web presence is part of your business that your existing customers expect to see. They want you to offer them more convenience and service through your business site. It can be a simple contact form or an appointment form or a useful FAQs page. However, your website most likely can’t generate new leads or attract new customers unless you work on search engine optimization of your website. You want to be among the top 10 websites in search engines result page when people search for your type of businesses, and this will not be achieved unless your website is Search engine optimized. Click here to learn more about SEO basics in this previous post.
I hope you liked this article and now you know how websites work. Please keep in mind that we would love to hear from you, and we will be more than happy to answer your questions. As a website designer in Bethesda, Maryland, We will have all our resources available to you, so please do not hesitate to contact us.