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Ever wondered how the magic behind your favorite website unfolds? Let’s dive into the mystery!

Although we use them every day, many of us don’t know how websites work.

In this guide, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is a Website?
  • What Websites Are Used For
  • What You Need to Start a Website
  • How Do Websites Work?
  • Why You Need a Website
  • Final Thoughts — How Do Websites Work?

What is a website?

Before we get into how a website works, let’s first define what a website is.

A website is a collection of interlinked web pages accessed via the Internet. It delivers information, entertainment, or services to users through a web browser on computers or mobile devices.

These webpages contain and display information about the business or organization and are usually made up of elements such as photos, videos and text.

Users need a device with a web browser — laptops, smartphones or tablets — and an Internet connection to access a website.

Once users have those, they can type the website’s address on the address bar of the device’s web browser to access the website.

How does a website work?

Now that you know what a website is, let’s look at how a website actually works.

Once a visitor types your domain name into their browser’s address bar, their computer sends a request to connect to the webserver keeping your files. Before reaching the web server, the request passes through the DNS, which looks up the server’s IP address.

For more information, check out our video tutorial on how websites work.

What websites are used for?

Before we learn how websites work, let’s explore what websites are used for. Websites are built for different purposes or goals.

Some reasons for creating a functional website include:

  • Providing information: Multiple websites exist to provide information. For example, government and business websites inform visitors of updates in their respective offices or companies, while news websites update users on the latest happenings around the world.
  • Entertaining: Websites such as YouTube and Netflix allow you to watch movies and shows, listen to music or play games.
  • Interacting with other users: Social networking sites and forums allow users to connect, communicate and share ideas.
  • Buying and selling items: E-commerce websites like Amazon and eBay allow users to sell and purchase items online.
  • Showcasing work: Personal and portfolio websites are sites created to demonstrate a person’s ability by collecting and showing past projects they’ve worked on for future clients.

Types of websites

Mainly there are 2 types of websites, dynamic and static.

When creating your website, you’ll encounter a significant decision: choosing between a static or a dynamic website. This choice will impact how your web pages are stored and delivered to visitors in their browsers. 

It’s an essential aspect to consider while building your online presence.

Here’s a closer look at dynamic websites and static websites.

Dynamic vs Static Website – A Quick Comparison

Dynamic vs Static Website – A Quick Comparison

Dynamic WebsiteStatic Website
Content changes and updates dynamically.Content remains fixed for all users.
Can display personalized information for users.Do not support real-time data fetching or personalized content.
Supports interactive features like logins, comments, and forms.Does not support interactive features
Well-suited for online stores, blogs, and websites with user interactions.Ideal for a simple online presence, such as company profiles or portfolios.

A WordPress website is dynamic, allowing easy content management through a user-friendly interface and supporting the integration of various dynamic elements, themes, and plugins for added functionality without extensive coding knowledge.

Build your interactive website today!

What you need to start a website

You have read about how a website works and the types of websites. Now let’s look at what we might need to start a website. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of How websites work. 

To start a website, you will need the following:

1. A Website-Building Platform

Websites are made of a set of code or programming languages. The most common languages used to build websites are:

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) helps browsers display webpage elements such as text, links and media.
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) define webpage styles such as colors, layouts and fonts.
  • Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is the programming language used to create dynamic and interactive websites. PHP is responsible for retrieving content from databases and displaying them on your website. With PHP, you can create login pages, forms and galleries.
  • JavaScript allows you to implement complex features to your website. Anytime your website does more than display static information, JavaScript is probably involved.

Nowadays, you don’t have to build websites straight from code. Content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress allow you to access websites and build a website easily.

These platforms use code but do not require users to have developer-level coding skills to use them.

WordPress, which powers over 40% of the Internet, is the most popular option. It provides a user-friendly interface that empowers everyone to build websites with minimal tech knowledge.

2. Web Hosting Provider

Websites are made up of different files needed to display your content online. How would you get these files from your computer to other pages on the Internet — and where would you store them?

The answer — web servers and web hosting services.

After choosing a platform to build your website, you’ll need a web host, which serves and stores your website files on an online space called the webserver.

Your host transfers all http requests and the files needed to fulfill that request whenever someone visits your website. Web hosts also help you with backups, uptime and security maintenance.

Free website-building platforms such as WordPress often require you to sign up for web hosting services separately.

An advantage of using these free CMS is complete control over your website, which is good until you realize that you’re also responsible for the not-so-fun parts like website security and maintenance.

If you want a platform that takes care of everything from web page hosting to security, you can opt for an easy WordPress website builder like WonderSuite.

easy website builder wondersuite

3. A Domain Name

Lastly, you’ll need a domain name to make your website work.

A domain name is the website name that users enter on the browser (i.e., Chrome, Firefox or Safari) when they visit your website.

Computers, servers, and other devices connected over the same Internet protocol are each assigned a unique string of numbers called the Internet protocol (IP) address.

Every time you access a website, your computer communicates to the website’s server through IP addresses. But because the IP address consists of multiple numbers, users would struggle to memorize which string of numbers belongs to a website.

Thus, the domain name system (DNS) was born.

The DNS is composed of multiple nameservers that look up the domain. You can think of the DNS as a large web address book where computers can look up domain names and match them to their corresponding IP address.

You can sign up for a domain name via domain name registrars or get one for free when you sign up for a web hosting plan.

Why You Need a Website

If you don’t have a website yet, this is your sign to get one.

There are currently over 4.66 billion Internet users, which means more than half of the world’s population relies on the Internet to communicate, research, do business and a whole lot more.

Whether you’re a freelancer or a small business, here are a few reasons why you’ll benefit from a website:

  • You’ll attract more customers and clients. 90% of customers start the buying process with a search. If you want to attract more customers, one of the best ways is by making yourself visible on Google.
  • You’ll be competitive. The lockdowns imposed during the height of the 2020 pandemic required many businesses to shut down their brick-and-mortar stores, allowing many business owners to realize the importance of an online presence.
    • According to the United Nations Trade and Development experts (UNCTAD), e-commerce is rising. It has always been in the future of retail; the pandemic only sped up its adoption.
  • You’ll appear more credible. Customers will often check reviews and recommendations before doing business with a new company, with 50% of customers checking the company website.

Besides that, signing up for a business website allows you to create a branded email address using your company domain, letting you appear more professional.

Final thoughts — How do websites work?

Although it may seem complicated, the way websites work is straightforward.

Moreover, given how important it is to have a website in today’s market, many brands have simplified the website creation process to make having an online presence more accessible.

With tools like Bluehost’s WonderSuite, you don’t need in-depth knowledge of how websites or web browsers work, nor do you need mad web development skills to build your dream website.

Access reliable hosting, support and accessibility in one package today.

Common questions about websites

What is a website

A website is a collection of interlinked web pages accessed via the Internet. It delivers information, entertainment, or services to users through a web browser on computers or mobile devices.

How is a website hosted?

Websites are hosted on servers, physical or virtual machines that store website files. When a user requests a webpage, the server sends the files to the user’s browser, allowing them to view the site.

What is the role of DNS in a website?

The Domain Name System (DNS) translates human-readable domain names into IP addresses. By matching the domain name to the corresponding IP address, DNS guides browsers to the correct server hosting the website.

How does HTTPS ensure security?

HTTPS encrypts data between a user’s browser and the server, preventing unauthorized access. By using a secure certificate, it ensures that the data exchanged remains private and integrity is maintained.

What are website cookies?

Cookies are small text files stored on a user’s browser by websites. They track user behavior, preferences, and login information, enabling personalized experiences and easier navigation on the site.

How is a website’s front-end developed?

A website’s front-end is developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML structures content, CSS styles it, and JavaScript adds interactivity, collectively creating the visual aspects and user experience.

How is a website’s back-end developed?

The back-end of a website is where data processing occurs. Using languages like PHP or Python and databases like MySQL, it handles data storage, user authentication, and server-side logic.

How does a website CMS function?

Content Management Systems (CMS) provide user-friendly interfaces for website management. Users can create, edit, and manage content without coding knowledge, making website maintenance more accessible.

Why do some websites look different on my phone?

Websites may look different on your phone due to responsive design, which adapts layouts to various screen sizes. This ensures the content is readable and usable on different devices.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    Education
    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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