Anatomy of a website

Quick note: Don’t worry if you’re a complete newcomer to the concept of website building. My goal with this post is to explain the key ideas without needing any prior technical knowledge.

First, let’s start with some key terms. There are a huge number of acronyms and technical terms that are thrown about, and I’m planning to do a more comprehensive jargon buster post at a later date, but for now, here are a few that are relevant to this particular post.

Domain: This is the website’s name, and you’ll see the domain after the “www.” portion of a web address, or after the “@” in an email address. This site’s domain is amycharlottewright.co.uk.

Hosting: Hosting is a term that refers to a container out on the internet. It’s simply space, and it is inside this space that your website resides. It’s a difficult concept to explain on it’s own, but will make more sense in context, as you shall soon see.

Content: The actual website is made up of content. Images, text and videos are all examples of content.

A website comprises of a domain name which connects to your hosting platform and loads your content, as demonstrated in the diagram below.

A visitor to a website doesn’t see each of these parts, just the end result, but all three are needed to have a functional website.

Buying a domain name is often the first step in building a website. You can buy domains from many places on the internet, and the costs vary depending on who you choose to buy from. For example, a domain that ends in .co.uk can be purchased for around £6 a year, while a domain ending in .com will set you back more in the region of £12 or so.

When you buy a domain, the domain resellers will often use this opportunity to sell you some hosting as well, but hosting can be bought from a different supplier entirely. The cost of hosting varies massively depending on a number of factors. Shop around to ensure you’re getting the best value for money, and watch out for the cheeky half price for the first month game that some companies play!

Once you’ve got your hosting, you can finally start to put the content of your site online. You can do this in two main ways: hard coding and with a CMS.

To hard code a website, you would use things like HTML, JavaScript and CSS to individually code each page. There are plenty of tutorials online that will give you a taste of how to do just that. However, I personally would discourage hard coding any active website, as administration becomes a bit of a chore and relies on your coding skills and technical know how.

Enter a CMS! CMS stands for Content Management System, which does all of the heavy lifting for you. To make changes on a site that uses a CMS, you can log in directly to your website and use the interface to add new pages, upload pictures or change content in just a few clicks.

So, there you have it: a brief overview as to what a website is actually made up of. There are thousands of courses and videos available online to explain each of these concepts in more detail if you wanted to learn more.

Of course, if you fancied letting somebody else build and host your website… drop me a line using the contact form here. (I’m sorry, I had to!)

I hope this has been informative, and keep an eye out for more guides here in the future.

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