How does a website work
This article focuses on the fundamentals of an online website and how they fit together in relation to each other.

Across the internet there are millions of active websites, displaying an infinite resource of information. A question I often get asked is how to get a website up and running and how the rest of the world can see your site. The basic fundamentals of an online website can be broken down into three main areas which will be the focus of this article.

Your Domain Name:

A domain name or URL is an address which tells a browser where you would like to go. Domain names are registered to a domain registrar. An easy analogy I often use is that a domain name is like a Fancy letterbox, an expression of your personality or a representation of your business which covers the actual address or IP address of where your website resides.


Once you have your domain name the next step is to tell the domain name to point to your hosting server. A hosting Server is usually just a much faster version of your desktop at home and contains significantly more memory. Hosting servers are most commonly stored in data centres so they have access to high speed internet connections (usually fiber optic) and backup power supplies so that your site does not drop offline. A hosting server will also have a static IP address (an address that does not change). For more information on static IP addresses click here. Your hosting server is where your website is stored for the world to see, so in effect your domain name is just like a shortcut on your desktop that takes the browser to the files that make up your website.

Your Website:

Websites and the technologies behind them constantly change with the “latest and greatest” frameworks popping up quite frequently. As a generalized view a website is essentially a script written in a programming language that is compiled (Transformed into readable text or a function) either by the hosting server or the browser on your local computer. Websites can be very basic displaying purely text information to highly complex calculating large algorithms behind the scenes.

To summarise this process:

Your domain name points to the files that make up your website that are stored on a server which sends the files back to your screen for viewing.

If you are thinking about taking on an online project a good place to start is to think about the message you would like your website to send to your audience and keep that as a centralised focus.