How A Website Works
By Jacob Fisher
There’s a good chance you know how to navigate to different websites. Maybe to watch YouTube, to check your email, to online shop, or if you are from North America, even to replace typical grocery shopping. But not too many people really know what a website is or how it functions.
Principally, a website is a file that is stored on a computer. It’s simply a type of file that requires a special type of program to open. These programs are called web browsers. Everyone knows what they are. Many examples of a web browser include Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox.
So, what does a website look like as a file? Well, this is probably best explained by an example. Try this yourself. If you’re on windows, open a notepad. Type “<html>” on the first line then press enter. On the second line, type “<body>” then press enter. On the third line, write ‘Hello World’ and press enter. Lastly, copy-paste the first two lines to the last two and add a “/” symbol right after the “<” symbol.
Now, push control and S at the same time to save the file. Now rename the file and replace the “.txt” with “.html”, open the file with Google Chrome, and voila! You’ve now made your first website. (NOTE FOR EDITOR, put the image of the text file here)
Since it’s not super obvious to some people what we just did, here’s what happened. What we did was open a notepad window, which is a text file (.txt). We then wrote an HTML code in the text file and saved it. After that, we changed the file from a text file (.txt) to a webpage file (.html). Transforming the text document into a .html file tells our browser how to read the file we wrote, which when opened shows us the text we wanted to display (in this case, “Hello World” was the text). (NOTE FOR EDITOR, put the image of the test web page here.)
When I first did this in one of my old classes, I was over-the-moon excited. I toyed around with the website I had just made and wrote different things down. It wasn't anything important, of course; it was more a grocery list than anything else, but I was ecstatic. That lasted all of 5-10 minutes before it felt really lame again. Why?
Just because you make a website, doesn’t mean anyone else can see it. You have to do something called hosting the site, which is a topic for another article in it itself. But what happens when you host it and why does that turn this boring bit of HTML into something everyone can use? Well, we already know.
A website is a file stored on a computer.
Nothing more, nothing less. Alone, accessible only by the person that made it, there really aren’t that many uses and it can be rather boring. The powerful part about websites is that they allow you to SHARE information with other people across the globe. So, by hosting the website, you’re allowing anyone you want to come and look at what you’ve just made!
This is, by far, not an explanation of everything. If you’re anything like me, here are some questions you might already have: How do I host a website? Why does my website look like garbage where sites like Apple.com look so professional? How do I make my website do something cool instead of just being a place where people look at text? What even is the Internet at this point? While I’d love to explain all of those questions, to explain any one of those questions in a meaningful way would probably take an entirely new article.
I hope you all have enjoyed reading! See you soon, hopefully.