How Websites Work

Gone are the days of hunting for answers in massive encyclopedias chock full of endless facts. Answers today are only an search away on the nearest computer, tablet or smartphone. That’s because websites contain centuries of knowledge and do everything from informing a college term paper to sending a purchase straight to your doorstep.

But how does it all work? Where do websites come from? If you’ve ever wanted to know the answer, just watch our video explaining the basics of how websites work, from start to finish. Check it out and let us know what you think!

See, a website is basically made up of files and computer code. The files are just like those on your computer at home, such as pictures from the last family reunion or the spreadsheets tracking quarterly revenue projections. The computer code then acts like the scaffolding behind the scenes. Written in languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc… this code instructs your computer on where the files go and what they do. So think of the files as pieces of a puzzle and the computer code as the instructions on how to solve it.

Now, these files need a place to be stored. Just like the music and photos on your computer, they take up hard drive space. Well, websites are stored on powerful computers called servers. And these servers have one purpose: to store and deliver data. (That’s why they’re called servers.) Often hundreds of these servers work together, stacked into towers; the effective apartment complexes of cyberspace, with each server holding many websites.

When you build a website, you rent space on these servers through a web hosting company, like us here at Bluehost. Then you upload all your text, photos, videos, and computer code, making it possible for anyone in the world to obtain these files and view your website.

But how do people find the servers on which websites are stored? When someone visits a website they usually enter a domain name into their browser, right? Well, here’ s what actually happens:

Each website address (or domain name) is tied to the IP address of the server on which it resides. Servers all have IP addresses, and these are managed and tracked via the Domain Name Server, or DNS, for short. Think of the DNS as phone book for computers, revealing the actual server IP address tied to a given domain name. Your computer can then use this information to find the correct server, connect to receive the files and computer code, and then present the information on your screen.

So that’s it. Now you know the basics of how websites work! Make sure to check out our video about SEO to find out how to help more people actually find your website.