A website is a collection of HTML documents that can be called up as individual webpages via one URL on the web with a client such as a browser. Alongside classic content such as text, internet sites can also include image media such as photos or videos, but also other files. Furthermore, web applications offer the opportunity for users to interact with a website. The subpages of a website are correctly described as webpages. Alternative terms include homepage or internet site.
The creation of the website
In 1990, the first website in the world was published by an employee of the CERN research project in Geneva. Just three years later the World Wide Web began with websites that could be called up all over the world via an internet connection.
The first websites were made up almost exclusively of text a few pictures. Over the course of the commercialization of the internet and the expansion of bandwidth by internet providers, websites have become more and more complex. Thanks to the increasing mobile use of the internet, however, a trend for simplification in design has resurfaced.
Today there are more than 1.3 billion websites worldwide, from small sites with a a single URL, as can be created with a homepage construction kit, to complex, professionally created online shops with many thousands of subpages. Interestingly, a large part of internet sites used around the world cannot be accessed via public networks. In some cases, these are internal company intranets while in other cases this is “dark web” content, which can only be accessed with certain browsers. The actual number of websites could therefore have long since broken the barrier of 1.3 billion mentioned above.
The global traffic related to websites creates a daily data quantity of more than four billion gigabytes.
Structure of a website
Nowadays, a website is mostly made up of numerous webpages. These webpages are HTML documents that are stored in a directory on a domain. The domain should not be confused with the website. The domain is the internet address via which the content of the website can be called up.
HITML is not a programming language but a page description language: In the code, it is defined which element is to be displayed at which point. This means in the design of a website, there is not a picture used for the entire site, rather it is defined in the code how the font, the colors and, of course, possible pictures or videos are to be arranged – depending on what device is being used (e.g. desktop computer or smartphone) to access it. When a website is designed to adapt to mobile requirements it’s called responsive design.
The individual webpages of a website are stored in directories, which each form their own URL. If the user enters this URL, they can call up the desired website. The URL for the individual websites is also stored by the search engine and in the so-called “search snippet” with elements such as meta description, meta title or rich snippets displayed in the search results as a clickable link.
A homepage can be created with the help of a simple text editor. This allows users to add HTML elements. This HTML file is then uploaded to a directory or a domain on a server. In this way a client can call up the website with its content via the web.
Many webmasters do not have an individual website programmed, but either use a “homepage construction kit” or so-called “CMS”, i.e. content management systems. These are programs that companies use to simply and professionally create websites. Popular CMS providers include WordPress, Joomla! and Wix.
Types of websites
There are a broad variety of website types that can be found on the World Wide Web.
- Blogs: These are the most common form of websites on the net. Anyone who wants to create a website nowadays mostly uses the form of a blog. A blog in its original form is characterized by a private user writing about issues from their subjective point of view and publishing to their blog. Today blogs are used for a variety of different purposes. For example, companies often have a so-called “corporate blog”, in which employees write about company-relevant topics.
- Online shops: A webshop is a website designed for online shopping. The site not only offers information on products or services, but also offers customers the opportunity to purchase or order these items online.
- Web directories: In the early days of the commercial internet, search engines were not as efficient as they are now. Users therefore often used so-called “web directories” in order to find internet sites on a certain topic. Nowadays web directories play a much smaller role, as they are also often used for search engine spam.
- Price comparison portals: These websites offer buyers the opportunity to compare prices for a certain product.
- Forums: In forums members, can log in and discuss their own chosen topics online.
- News websites: These are generally digital forms of classic news magazines. Today the digital versions have a significantly higher coverage than the print editions.
- Social networks: Social networks such as Facebook or Twitter are special websites that give the opportunity for users to interact. You do not need your own domain to use these portals.
Apps, for example, that are used on smartphones or computers are not amongst the classic websites. They are comparable with software that is installed on a computer. Apps differentiate themselves from by generally only being usable with an internet connection. Apps for Android devices can be given their own URIs as part of app indexing and be indexed by Google. In this form, apps are, in turn, comparable with classic websites. However, they have been designed exclusively for mobile end devices and not for desktop PCs.