What is a website?

A website is a discrete collection of information published on the World Wide Web. It is a ‘discrete collection’ because it will have a unique web address. The web address is called the ‘domain name’.

The collection of information may consist of text, images, video, audio and other digital files. If you look at this web page and the surrounding design elements, you’ll see it’s made up of images and text. This website is ‘database driven’. The text that you’re reading is contained in a database, that is ‘served’ to your web browser and styled using a number of web programming languages.

Most modern websites are database driven, which means that the website text is contained in a database and automatically (or ‘dynamically’) combined with other media when you request the page by clicking on a web link. In the early days of the web, the text that you’re reading would have been written into the web page itself and served to your browser. This is a simple approach that meets very simple needs. These days, most people want to manage a growing and ever more complex number of web pages and to do so effectively, we use databases to help manage the information on our websites.

Although a modern website such as this one is, in many respects, a very complex collection of information, the software is advanced enough to make it relatively easy to manage and you don’t need to know anything about web servers, databases or programming languages to run a website like this one.

You do need to know a little about domain names, which is what we’ll discuss next.

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