A website (or web site) is a collection of web pages, typically common to a particular domain name on the Internet. A web page is a document usually written in HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), which is almost always accessible via HTTP (Hyper-Text Transport Protocol). HTTP is a protocol that transfers information from the website server to display it in the user’s web browser. All publicly accessible web sites constitute the immense World Wide Web of information. More formally a web site might be considered a collection of pages dedicated to a similar or identical subject or purpose and hosted through a single domain.
The pages of a website are approached from a common root URL (Uniform Resource Locator or Universal Resource Locator) called the homepage, and usually reside on the same physical server. The URLs of the pages organise them into a hierarchy. Nonetheless, the hyperlinks between web pages regulate how the reader perceives the overall structure and how the traffic flows between the different parts of the sites. The first on-line website appeared in 1991 in CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research situated in the suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border) – for more information see ViCTE Newsletter Number 5 – WWW History (Part1) / May 2009, Number 6 – WWW History (Part2) / June 2009.
A website may belong to an individual, a business or other organization. Any website can contain hyperlinks to any other web site, so the differentiation one particular site from another may sometimes be difficult for the user.
Websites are commonly written in, or dynamically converted to, HTML and are accessed using a web browser. Websites can be approached from a number of computer based and Internet enabled devices, including desktop computers, laptops, PDAs (personal digital assistant or personal data assistant) and cell phones.
A website is hosted on a computer system called a web server or an HTTP server. These terms also refer to the software that runs on the servers and that retrieves and delivers the web pages in response to users´ requests.
Static and dynamic websites are distinguished. A static website is one that has content which is not expected to change frequently and is manually maintained by a person or persons via editor software. It provides the same available standard information to all visitors for a certain period of time between updating of the site.
A dynamic website is one that has frequently changing information or interacts with the user from various situation (HTTP cookies or database variables e.g., previous history, session variables, server side variables, etc.) or direct interaction (form elements, mouseovers, etc.). When the web server receives a request for a given page, the page is automatically retrieved from storage by the software. A site can display the current state of a dialogue between users, can monitor a changing situation, or provide information adapted in some way for the particular user.
Static content may also be dynamically generated either periodically or if certain conditions for regeneration occur in order to avoid the performance loss of initiating the dynamic engine
Some websites demand a subscription to access some or all of their content. Examples of subscription websites include numerous business sites, parts of news websites, academic journal websites, gaming websites, social networking sites, websites affording real-time stock market data, websites providing various services (e.g., websites offering storing and/or sharing of images, files, etc.) and many others.
There are many varieties of websites, each specialising in a particular type of content or use, and they may be arbitrarily classified in any number of ways. A few such classifications might include: Affiliate, Archive site, Corporate website, Commerce site, Directory site and many many others (see a detailed classification in Types of websites).
In February 2009, an Internet monitoring company Netcraft, which has tracked web growth since 1995, reported that there were 106,875,138 websites in 2007 and 215,675,903 websites in 2009 with domain names and content on them, compared to just 18,000 Web sites in August 1995.
PS: Spelling – what is the better, what is correct: “website” OR “web site”?
The form “website” has gradually become the standard spelling. It is used, for instance, by such leading dictionaries and encyclopedias as the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, Wikipedia. Nevertheless, a form “web site” is still widely used, e.g. Encyclopædia Britannica (including its Merriam-Webster subsidiary). Among major Internet technology companies, Microsoft uses “website” and occasionally “web site”, Apple uses “website”, and Google uses “website”, too.
PSS: Unknown technical terms you can find in the Internet English Vocabulary.
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Right now within preparing the e-book “Internet English” (see ViCTE Newsletter Number 33 – WWW, Part 1 / August 2011 ) posts on this topic are being published there. Your comments to the posts are welcome.
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