Anatomy of a Website

Understanding the parts that make a website work

I'm sure you're familiar with navigating through the web to find what you need, but if you’re like most people you probably haven’t given a thought to websites beyond that. The truth is, there’s a lot more to a website than the pages you interact with.

You might be thinking, so what? But, with the increasing importance of having a web presence comes the need to understand how a website works— especially if you’re a business owner.

For starters, a website isn’t really a single thing, but a collection of many things working together. Here’s a brief explanation of what these pieces are and how they work together.

It starts with a (domain) name.

The domain name is used as an easy way to get to the location on a server where the files that make up your website are hosted. Your visitors need an easy way to get to your website, so you need a domain name. A good name should be short, memorable and easy to type. At the same time, the name should also clearly relate to your business. Check out this resource for more info about choosing the right domain name

Also, a domain isn’t really purchased; rather, it is rented for a certain period of time from a domain registrar. Renewing for longer periods of time gives you an advantage with Search Engine Optimization, as you have established that your site is not temporary. Plus, it allows you to go longer without being reminded, or forgetting to renew. Generally, when your lease expires on a domain, name your website will quit working and the domain name will enter a grace period at the registrar. During the grace period, you still have a chance to keep the domain, but afterwards the name will be free for the taking. Either way, the downtime you experience can be costly.

Much more than the sum of its parts.

All websites are made up of parts and pieces. Some very simple web pages can be made up of a single file, while other more complicated websites can be made up from hundreds or even tens of thousands of files. Some files in a site you may never see, some you may see but never be aware of, and some you might notice time and again as you visit your site.

Dynamic, database-driven websites like the ones we produce at IdeaBank Marketing consist of many files which ultimately make back end management simple for our users.

Content is king.

These are just parts and pieces used to present the important stuff, namely what your users are looking for: your content. An example of site content would be this article you are reading and the image at the top of it. One way to think of content is the stuff that makes the pages within your site different from each other. Content is the message and the user is visiting your webpage. Some might only be there to find out your address and the hours you are open, others might want to purchase a new widget or research a service you provide.

Angela Carter once said, “A book is simply the container of an idea like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.” A website is the same in that the files are the container for what matters, the content.

Wrapping it up with hosting.

All of the stuff that makes up a website has to be stored somewhere accessible by the Internet so your domain name can be used to connect your users to them. This is hosting.

There are different types of hosting, ranging from the free or very inexpensive to the more pricey variants. Generally, cheaper hosts provide less space for your files and less transfer bandwidth. For example, think about a website logo that is a .png file and about 1 kilobyte in size . The storage space in your hosting plan limits how many of those files can be stored. Bandwidth would be a limiting factor on how many of these logo files can be delivered by your host to a user looking at your website in a month. So, the larger the website is and the busier the site becomes, the larger the hosting would need to become.

Here are more great tips on how to find a terrific website host

Closing the loop

So just like the song “Dem Bones” written by James Weldon Johnson around the turn of the previous century, one thing connects to another. Everything is important, and your website depends on all its parts working together in harmony.

Need more clarification on domain registrars, content or hosting? Have any other questions concerning your business’s website?

IdeaBank is here to help. Give us a call at 402.463.0588 and our experienced web developers would be happy to talk with you about your online presence.

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