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A website, also written as Web site, 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).

History

The World Wide Web (WWW) was created in 1990 by CERN physicist Tim Berners-Lee. On 30 April 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to use for anyone. Before the introduction of HTML and HTTP, other protocols such as File Transfer Protocol and the gopher protocol were used to retrieve individual files from a server. These protocols offer a simple directory structure which the user navigates and chooses files to download. Documents were most often presented as plain text files without formatting, or were encoded in word processor formats.

Overview

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.

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 (according to Netcraft statistics) and Microsoft's IIS is also commonly used. Some alternatives, such as Lighttpd, Hiawatha or Cherokee, are fully functional and lightweight.

Static website

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.

They are edited using four broad categories of software:

Text editors, such as Notepad or TextEdit, where content and HTML markup are manipulated directly within the editor program
WYSIWYG offline editors, such as Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Dreamweaver (previously Macromedia Dreamweaver), with which the site is edited using a GUI interface and the final HTML markup is generated automatically by the editor software
WYSIWYG online editors which create media rich online presentation like web pages, widgets, intro, blogs, and other documents.
Template-based editors, such as RapidWeaver and iWeb, which allow users to quickly create and upload web pages to a web server without detailed HTML knowledge, as they pick a suitable template from a palette and add pictures and text to it in a desktop publishing fashion without direct manipulation of HTML code.
Static websites may still use server side includes (SSI) as an editing convenience, such as sharing a common menu bar across many pages. As the site's behaviour to the reader is still static, this is not considered a dynamic site.

Dynamic website

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

Dynamic websites can have two types of dynamic activity: Code and Content. Dynamic code is invisible or behind the scenes and dynamic content is visible or fully displayed.

Dynamic code

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.

Dynamic content

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.

Software systems

There are a wide range of software systems, such as CGI, Java Servlets and Java Server Pages (JSP), PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby programming languages, Active Server Pages and ColdFusion (CFML) that are available to generate dynamic web systems and dynamic sites. Sites may also include content that is retrieved from one or more databases or by using XML-based technologies such as RSS.

Static content may also be dynamically generated either periodically, or if certain conditions for regeneration occur (cached) in order to avoid the performance loss of initiating the dynamic engine on a per-user or per-connection basis.

Plug ins are available to expand the features and abilities of web browsers to show active content or even create rich Internet applications. Examples of such plug-ins are Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash, Adobe Shockwave or applets written in Java. Dynamic HTML also provides for user interactivity and realtime element updating within web pages (i.e., pages don't have to be loaded or reloaded to effect any changes), mainly using the Document Object Model (DOM) and JavaScript, support which is built-in to most modern web browsers.

Turning a website into an income source is a common practice for web developers and website owners. There are several methods for creating a website business which fall into two broad categories, as defined below.

Content-based sites

Some websites derive revenue by selling advertising space on their site either through direct sales or through an advertising network. (see Contextual advertising).

Product- or service-based sites

Some websites derive revenue by offering products or services for sale. In the case of e-commerce websites, the products or services may be purchased at the website itself, by entering credit card or other payment information into a payment form on the site. While most business websites serve as a shop window for existing brick and mortar businesses, it is increasingly the case that some websites are businesses in their own right; that is, the products they offer are only available for purchase on the web.

Websites occasionally derive income from a combination of these two practices. For example, a website such as an online auctions website may charge the users of its auction service to list an auction, but also display third-party advertisements on the site, from which it derives further income.

Spelling

The form "website" has become the most common spelling, but "Web site" (capitalised) and "web site" are also widely used, though declining. Some academia, some large book publishers, and some dictionaries still use "Web site", reflecting the origin of the term in the proper name World Wide Web. There has also been similar debate regarding related terms such as web page, web server, and webcam.

Among leading style guides, the Reuters style guide, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the AP Stylebook (since April 2010) all recommend "website".

Among leading dictionaries and encyclopedias, the Canadian Oxford Dictionary prefers "website", and the Oxford English Dictionary changed to "website" in 2004. Wikipedia also uses "website", but Encyclopædia Britannica uses both "Web site" and "Website". Britannica's Merriam-Webster subsidiary uses "Web site", recognising "website" as a variant.

Among leading language-usage commentators, Garner's Modern American Usage acknowledges that "website" is the standard form,[11] but Bill Walsh, of The Washington Post, argues for using "Web site" in his books and on his website (however, The Washington Post itself uses "website").

Among major Internet technology companies and corporations, Google uses "website", as does Apple, though Microsoft uses both "website" and "web site".

Types of websites

Websites can be divided into two broad categories - static and interactive. Interactive sites are part of the Web 2.0 community of sites, and allow for interactivity between the site owner and site visitors. Static sites serve or capture information but do not allow engagement with the audience directly.

There are many varieties of websites, each specializing in a particular type of content or use, and they may be arbitrarily classified in any number of ways. A few such classifications might include:

Type of Website Description Examples
Affiliate A site, typically few in pages, whose purpose is to sell a third party's product. The seller receives a commission for facilitating the sale.
Affiliate Agency Enabled portal that renders not only its custom CMS but also syndicated content from other content providers for an agreed fee. There are usually three relationship tiers. Affiliate Agencies (e.g., Commission Junction ), Advertisers (e.g., eBay ) and consumer (e.g., Yahoo! ).
Archive site Used to preserve valuable electronic content threatened with extinction. Two examples are: Internet Archive , which since 1996 has preserved billions of old (and new) web pages; and Google Groups , which in early 2005 was archiving over 845,000,000 messages posted to Usenet news/discussion groups. Internet Archive , Google Groups
Attack site A site created specifically to attack visitors computers on their first visit to a website by downloading a file (usually a trojan horse ). These websites rely on unsuspecting users with poor anti-virus protection in their computers.
Blog (web log) Sites generally used to post online diaries which may include discussion forums (e.g., blogger , Xanga ). Many bloggers use blogs like an editorial section of a newspaper to express their ideas on anything ranging from politics to religion to video games to parenting, along with anything in between. Some bloggers are professional bloggers and they are paid to blog about a certain subject, and they are usually found on news sites. WordPress
Brand building site A site with the purpose of creating an experience of a brand online. These sites usually do not sell anything, but focus on building the brand. Brand building sites are most common for low-value, high-volume fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).
Celebrity website A website whose information revolves around a celebrity . This sites can be official (endorsed by the celebrity) or fan made (run by his/her fan, fans, without implicit endorsement). jimcarrey.com
Click-to-donate site A website that allows the visitor to donate to charity simply by clicking on a button or answering a question correctly. An advertiser usually donates to the charity for each correct answer generated. The Hunger Site , Freerice , Ripple (charitable organisation)
Community site A site where persons with similar interests communicate with each other, usually by chat or message boards. Myspace , Facebook , orkut
Content site Sites whose business is the creation and distribution of original content (e.g., Slate , About.com ).
Classified Ads site Sites publishing classified advertisements gumtree.com
Corporate website Used to provide background information about a business, organization, or service.
Dating website A site where users can find other single people looking for long range relationships, dating, or just friends. Many of them are pay per services such as eHarmony and Match.com , but there are many free or partially free dating sites. Most dating sites today have the functionality of social networking websites.
Electronic commerce (e-commerce) site A site offering goods and services for online sale and enabling online transactions for such sales.
Forum website A site where people discuss various topics.
Gallery Website A website designed specifically for use as a Gallery, these may be an art gallery or photo gallery and of commercial or non-commercial nature.
Government Site A website made by the local, state, department or national government of a country. Usually these sites also operate websites that are intended to inform tourists or support tourism. For example, Richmond.com is the geodomain for Richmond, Virginia .
Gripe site A site devoted to the criticism of a person, place, corporation, government, or institution.
Gaming website

Gambling website

A site that lets users play online games. Some enable people to gamble online.
Humor site Satirizes, parodies or otherwise exists solely to amuse.
Information site Most websites could fit in this type of website to some extent many of them are not necessarily for commercial purposes RateMyProfessors.com , Free Internet Lexicon and Encyclopedia. Most government, educational and nonprofit institutions have an informational site.
Media sharing site A site that enables users to upload and view media such as pictures , music , and videos Flickr , YouTube , Google Videos
Mirror site A website that is the replication of another website. This type of websites are used as a response to spikes in user visitors. Mirror sites are most commonly used to provide multiple sources of the same information, and are of particular value as a way of providing reliable access to large downloads.
Microblog site A short and simple form of blogging. Microblogs are limited to certain amounts of characters and works similar to a status update on Facebook Twitter
News site Similar to an information site, but dedicated to dispensing news, politics, and commentary. cnn.com
Personal website Websites about an individual or a small group (such as a family) that contains information or any content that the individual wishes to include. Such a personal website is different from a Celebrity website , which can be very expensive and run by a publicist or agency.
Phishing site a website created to fraudulently acquire sensitive information , such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business (such as Social Security Administration , PayPal ) in an electronic communication (see Phishing ).
p2p / Torrents website Websites that index torrent files. This type of website is different from a Bit torrent client which is usually a stand alone software. Mininova , The Pirate Bay , IsoHunt
Political site A site on which people may voice political views, show political humor, campaigning for elections, or show information about a certain political party or ideology.
Porn site A site that shows sexually explicit content for enjoyment and relaxation. They can be similar to a personal website when it's a website of a porn actor/actress or a media sharing website where user can upload from their own sexually explicit material to movies made by adult studios.
Question and Answer (Q&A) Site Answer site is a site where people can ask questions & get answers. Yahoo! Answers , Stack Exchange Network (including Stack Overflow )
Rating site A site on which people can praise or disparage what is featured.
Religious site A site in which people may advertise a place of worship, or provide inspiration or seek to encourage the faith of a follower of that religion.
Review site A site on which people can post reviews for products or services.
School site a site on which teachers, students, or administrators can post information about current events at or involving their school. U.S. elementary-high school websites generally use k12 in the URL
Scraper site a site which largely duplicates without permission the content of another site, without actually pretending to be that site, in order to capture some of that site's traffic (especially from search engines) and profit from advertising revenue or in other ways.
Search engine site A website that indexes material on the Internet or an intranet (and lately on traditional media such as books and newspapers)and provides links to information as a response to a query. Google Search , Bing , GoodSearch , DuckDuckGo
Shock site Includes images or other material that is intended to be offensive to most viewers Goatse.cx , rotten.com
Showcase site Web portals used by individuals and organisations to showcase things of interest or value
Social bookmarking site A site where users share other content from the Internet and rate and comment on the content. StumbleUpon and Digg are examples.
Social networking site A site where users could communicate with one another and share media, such as pictures, videos, music, blogs, etc. with other users. These may include games and web applications . Facebook , Orkut , Google+
Warez A site designed to host or link to materials such as music, movies and software for the user to download.
Webmail A site that provides a webmail service. Hotmail , Gmail , Yahoo!
Web portal A site that provides a starting point or a gateway to other resources on the Internet or an intranet. msn.com , msnbc.com , yahoo
Wiki site A site which users collaboratively edit its content. Wikipedia , WikiHow , Wikia

Some websites may be included in one or more of these categories. For example, a business website may promote the business's products, but may also host informative documents, such as white papers. There are also numerous sub-categories to the ones listed above. For example, a porn site is a specific type of e-commerce site or business site (that is, it is trying to sell memberships for access to its site) or have social networking capabilities. A fansite may be a dedication from the owner to a particular celebrity.

Websites are constrained by architectural limits (e.g., the computing power dedicated to the website). Very large websites, such as Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google employ many servers and load balancing equipment such as Cisco Content Services Switches to distribute visitor loads over multiple computers at multiple locations. As of early 2011, Facebook utilized 9 data centers with approximately 63,000 servers.

In February 2009, Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company that has tracked Web growth since 1995, reported that there were 215,675,903 websites with domain names and content on them in 2009, compared to just 18,000 websites in August 1995.

Awards

The Webby Awards, Favourite Website Awards, Interactive Media Awards and WebAwards are prominent award organizations recognizing the world's best websites.

 
 
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