Absolute beginner web design; how do websites and the Internet work?

Absolute beginner web design; how do websites and the Internet work?

Most people don’t question just how the Internet works until they find themselves in a position like having to design a website for their small business; at which point it can become a confusing mass of buzzwords and jargon it’s hard to keep up with. In reality, the basics of the Internet and the website design really are quite simple to understand as you’ll hopefully see reading this article.

Internet is short for international network, and as the name suggests it really is a network spanning the globe; there is no central “brain” or computer or big building where the Internet is kept, little bits of it are stored everywhere. Web hosts are companies that specialise in storing bits of the Internet; they have huge amounts of computer memory and storage space which are connected to the Internet 24/7 via something called a web server, literally a machine that serves websites to the Internet.

There are thousands of web hosts all over the world, they don’t have any special way of linking together directly, they just plug into the phone line as you do at home and that makes all the files and websites they have stored accessible via the Internet, making those websites a part of it. If you were to unplug them again, those websites they had stored would all disappear from the Internet; so you can see the Internet is a vast memory bank of computer information, split across multiple locations and made easy to access with the Internet browsing software on your home PC. It’s a little bit like walking into a room full of computers and checking each one for the information you want, your computer just manages to do that in a matter of seconds rather than the months or years it would take a human!

Now if you’re in a position where you need to put together a small business website, the important question is how do you get yourself in with one of those web hosts and what do you need to give them.

Websites are just collections of files; there are text files with your wording and some computer instructions, and there are graphics files with your colour scheme and photos and sometimes there are video and music files and other things like that. These are the files that web hosts store and the files you will be given by a web designer when they’ve made a website for you.

The bit that really does the work are the text files, these have to be written in a specific computer language designed for the Internet. Once the files are saved with a web host and web surfers access them, their computers will look through the text files to see what other files should be displayed and in what order, and that’s how a collection of five or six different files becomes an easily readable web page.

Web hosts themselves are everywhere, renting out space on their web servers for monthly rates relating to how big and busy your website is; once you hire space you just load up your files and the website is online.

So, the magic behind the Internet isn’t in some supercomputer somewhere out there, it’s in the fast and simple way computers can communicate with each other, enabling your home PC to go through a database of billions of pieces of information and find what you want in just a few seconds. The beauty of that for business owners is that your business and services can become accessible to the entire world for a tiny monthly fee renting space from a web host.


I’m always happy to give anyone a no-strings-attached 15 minute consultation on improving your current website or getting the best start with a new one, just call 01634 810600 at any time and I’ll talk you through it over the phone.

Tony Spinks


Smart Domain Group



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