Web Site Design

Website Overview

A website, also written as web site, or simply site, is a set of related web pages served from a single web domain. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet address known as a Uniform Resource Locator. All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web.

A webpage is a document, typically written in plain text interspersed with formatting instructions of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML, XHTML). A webpage may incorporate elements from other websites with suitable markup anchors.

Webpages are accessed and transported with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which may optionally employ encryption (HTTP Secure, HTTPS) to provide security and privacy for the user of the webpage content. The user's application, often a web browser, renders the page content according to its HTML markup instructions onto a display terminal.

The pages of a website can usually be accessed from a simple Uniform Resource Locator (URL) called the web address. The URLs of the pages organize them into a hierarchy, although hyperlinking between them conveys the reader's perceived site structure and guides the reader's navigation of the site which generally includes a home page with most of the links to the site's web content, and a supplementary about, contact and link page.

Some websites require a subscription to access some or all of their content. Examples of subscription websites include many business sites, parts of news websites, academic journal websites, gaming websites, file-sharing websites, message boards, web-based email, social networking websites, websites providing real-time stock market data, and websites providing various other services (e.g., websites offering storing and/or sharing of images, files and so forth).

Website Uses

Websites have many functions and can be used in various fashions; a website can be a personal website, a commercial website, a government website or a nonprofit organization website. Websites can be the work of an individual, a business or other organization, and are typically dedicated to a particular topic or purpose. Any website can contain a hyperlink to any other website, so the distinction between individual sites, as perceived by the user, can be blurred.

Websites are written in, or dynamically converted to, HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and are accessed using a software interface classified as a user agent. Web pages can be viewed or otherwise accessed from a range of computer-based and Internet-enabled devices of various sizes, including desktop computers, laptops, PDAs and cell phones.

Web Site Hosting

A website is hosted on a computer system known as a web server, also called an HTTP server. These terms can also refer to the software that runs on these systems which retrieves and delivers the web pages in response to requests from the website's users. Apache is the most commonly used web server software and Microsoft's IIS is also commonly used.

Static Websites

A static website is one that has web pages stored on the server in the format that is sent to a client web browser. It is primarily coded in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

Simple forms or marketing examples of websites, such as classic website, a five-page website or a brochure website are often static websites, because they present pre-defined, static information to the user. This may include information about a company and its products and services through text, photos, animations, audio/video and interactive menus and navigation.

This type of website usually displays the same information to all visitors. Similar to handing out a printed brochure to customers or clients, a static website will generally provide consistent, standard information for an extended period of time. Although the website owner may make updates periodically, it is a manual process to edit the text, photos and other content and may require basic website design skills and software.

A static web page may still have dynamic behaviour, provided that this is handled entirely client-side (i.e. within the browser). This may include such features as a JavaScript image zoom feature to display photographs.

In summary, visitors are not able to control what information they receive via a static website, and must instead settle for whatever content the website owner has decided to offer at that time.

Dynamic Websites (Such as this site)

A dynamic website is one that changes or customizes itself frequently and automatically, based on certain criteria.

The first type is a web page with dynamic code. The code is constructed dynamically on the fly using active programming language instead of plain, static HTML.

A website with dynamic code refers to its construction or how it is built, and more specifically refers to the code used to create a single web page. A dynamic web page is generated on the fly by piecing together certain blocks of code, procedures or routines. A dynamically generated web page would recall various bits of information from a database and put them together in a pre-defined format to present the reader with a coherent page. It interacts with users in a variety of ways including by reading cookies recognizing users' previous history, session variables, server side variables etc., or by using direct interaction (form elements, mouse overs, etc.). A site can display the current state of a dialogue between users, monitor a changing situation, or provide information in some way personalized to the requirements of the individual user.

The second type is a website with dynamic content displayed in plain view. Variable content is displayed dynamically on the fly based on certain criteria, usually by retrieving content stored in a database.

A website with dynamic content refers to how its messages, text, images and other information are displayed on the web page, and more specifically how its content changes at any given moment. The web page content varies based on certain criteria, either pre-defined rules or variable user input. For example, a website with a database of news articles can use a pre-defined rule which tells it to display all news articles for today's date. This type of dynamic website will automatically show the most current news articles on any given date. Another example of dynamic content is when a retail website with a database of media products allows a user to input a search request for the keyword Beatles. In response, the content of the web page will spontaneously change the way it looked before, and will then display a list of Beatles products like CDs, DVDs and books.

Content Management System for dynamic sites

A Content Management System (CMS)is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual steps or an automated cascade.

The first content management system (CMS) was announced at the end of the 1990s. This CMS was designed to simplify the complex task of writing numerous versions of code and to make the website development process more flexible. CMS platforms allow users to centralize data editing, publishing and modification on a single back-end interface. CMS platforms are often used as blog software.

The core function and use of content management systems is to present information on websites. CMS features vary widely from system to system. Simple systems showcase a handful of features, while other releases, notably enterprise systems, offer more complex and powerful functions. Most CMS include Web-based publishing, format management, revision control (version control), indexing, search, and retrieval. The CMS increments the version number when new updates are added to an already-existing file. A CMS may serve as a central repository containing documents, movies, pictures, phone numbers, scientific data. CMSs can be used for storing, controlling, revising, semantically enriching and publishing documentation.