Website 101 Tips From the Pros

The Technology That Drives a Website

While you don’t need to be a technologist to create a website, having a basic understanding of the technologies involved can help, especially if you ever run into trouble with your website. When describing your problem to a tech support person, you will be able to identify at least where the problem lies.

If you are looking to connect to the internet, the first step is to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP). You probably already have one. This is the company you pay a monthly fee to in order to use the internet. It is typically your cable provider, or it could be via Fiber Optics, etc. They provide you with a way to connect to the internet (usually a modem) and will even come to your house if you have trouble getting it installed. If you are looking to have multiple people in your house connect, you will purchase a router at your local electronics retailer. Most of these are wireless these days.

The next stage is to use a web browser to connect to the internet. Most modern-day operating systems have these pre-installed. If you don’t, your ISP can take you through the steps to get one installed. You will know these as FireFox, or Internet Explorer. Google has its own derivative called Chrome.

When you use your browser to make a request to the internet, it goes through your ISP to look up the address of where to find the information. If you typed in Google.com, for example, your ISP would send that to a name server. This name server translates Google.com into an address in and then routes the request to that numeric address. It also knows who the requester was (you) to be able to send you the page. This is an oversimplification as there are also intermediary web servers, but this gives you the general concept.

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There needs to be a way for your browser to know how to interpret the data. You may think it’s just a document. But, if you have ever worked with a Word document before or equivalent, you know that you have to format that document. You would have headers, line breaks, graphic elements, etc. The same is true of your web browser. When the web server sends the requested document, it sends it as a computer language known as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This is simply instructions for your browser to use to render properly the various components of the pages you see in the browser.

This is by no means meant to make you an expert on web technologies. But, if you ever need to communicate the problem you face, you will at least know what components are at work.