What Is a Website?


A website is a collection of electronic files that contain text, graphics and audio or video. The files are stored on servers that provide round-the-clock access to users across the Internet using a protocol called HTTP. The Web page content can be accessed by typing a unique address, or URL, into a Web browser or by clicking on hyperlinks.

There are billions of websites worldwide, ranging from small business sites to complex online storefronts. Some websites have a single purpose, such as providing information, while others exist to entertain or connect people.

Many websites consist of multiple pages organized around a central theme or subject and managed by a person or organization. The central page is often referred to as the home page. The contents of a website may be static (unchanging), or they can be updated regularly with fresh information and resources. A website can also use a combination of static and dynamic content, depending on the type of site and the tools used to create it.

Websites are built with a variety of software and programming languages, such as HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and JavaScript. Typical files found on a website include HTML documents, graphic image files (like GIF and JPEG), audio or video files and scripted computer programs written in a programming language such as Perl, PHP or Java. Web pages are typically arranged in a hierarchical structure, with an index or table of contents that links to other pages within the site.

In addition to displaying text and images, some websites are designed for interactive experiences such as chat rooms or forums. Some websites are used to sell products or services, such as online stores and auctions, while others host blogs or community spaces where users can post comments and share ideas and news.

Almost anyone can make a simple website using software and tools that are readily available. A popular option is to use a content management system, or CMS, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or a similar open source program. These systems allow a user with minimal technical knowledge to easily update and edit the website’s content.

A more advanced type of website is a dynamic website, which uses database technology to deliver content in response to user requests. This is a powerful tool that allows organizations to easily and quickly update their websites with new product or service information, or even to add additional sections or pages to their websites without the need for manual updates.

While the initial definition of a website was limited to those that are accessible on the World Wide Web, the term has now been broadened to encompass any digital information space that can be accessed via a URL. It includes everything from the simplest websites, such as those that contain black and white photos and text, to those that are highly interactive and immersive, like games, social media or e-commerce sites. A website can even be a search engine.