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What is a website?

Computers creating websites

Are we credible unless we have our own website? What is a website anyway?

We use them every day, and we don’t even think about the countless hours going into creating content competing for our attention. How vital is it for us to have a website for our brand or product?

Twenty years ago when the internet was relatively new (even though it has been around a lot longer), it was just another channel to share basic information about academics, email or company products. If you had a business card during those days, you were considered a legitimate company (or at least gave the appearance).

Fast-forward to about 10 years ago, I got a phone call from a businessman in Central Florida who provided services to a certain sports industry. In fact, he was the number 2 company in the country and was widely respected. He got a phone call from a prospect interested in his services for an event coming up. Normally he would send a proposal, but she wanted to see his website. There was a offer to send his business card and proposal (on his letterhead), but she persisted. He then suggested sending letters of recommendation from several happy clients. She prevailed upon him to see his website. Finally, he admitted he didn’t have one. Click. She hung up on him!

Aside from being rude, this prospect was the wake-up call that things changed. For a credible perception, you still need all the traditional business tools; business cards, a phone and letterhead, but now you need a website. But what is a website really? Isn’t it just your web browser on your computer or phone or tablet? Absolutely NOT! The browser is just how we access the website.

A website is three things:

  1. A Domain Name
  2. Content
  3. A server connected to the internet
Computer code for a website

Domain Name

A domain name is a registered name purchased from a registrar. Computers like numbers. There is no easy way of remembering the IP (internet protocol) address of every website you would like to view. An example of an internet address is 127.0.0.1. A domain name is a friendly name to help you easily remember a website. There are tables containing the domain name and the corresponding IP address. When you type in a domain name in your web browser, your browser does a lookup in those tables. Then the name gets translated into the IP address a computer can use. This is done in milliseconds!

Content

These are the words, graphics and other files on the pages in the website. Digital assets are grouped together by computer code a web browser can read in a series of rules called standards. Different types of web pages follow different standards, typically in HTML (HyperText Markup Language) or PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor, and yes, I know the acronym is out of order). There are too many other file types to discuss here, but these are the most widely used. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other web content management systems use PHP. Frameworks like WordPress make it easy to add content without any special software tools. All the files are stored in a folder with a hierarchy so it is better organized.

Internet-Connected Server

A server is a high-powered computer, usually owned by a hosting company specializing in websites. Space is rented on these servers with the promise of “uptime” or a guarantee the service will be always on, or more realistically as close to 100% as possible. There are several technical aspects, but you get the idea.

If you are looking for affordable hosting plans, you have many choices. We offer inexpensive hosting plans that grow with your business needs. Check out our Affordable Web Hosting page here.

Does this sound like a lot to digest and manage? Just keep in mind there individuals and companies out there whose sole purpose is to manage this for you. For example, we manage web hosting and update websites. We are very flexible in how we work with you, see our article on our 3 Types of Clients here.

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