The Anatomy of a Website
A website is simply standardized computer code that is made available to the public from a “server” computer, via an “IP address,” which is much like a phone number. People normally don’t type in an IP address into their browser, but rather a “domain name.” A domain name points to the proper server with the IP address behind the scenes. So in other words, you could have a website without a domain name, but you would have to tell people something like, “Check out my new website at 126.96.36.199!”
The standardized computer code is called HTML. This is what the server will publish to the internet to display web pages. HTML is written, sent and received as simple text with various “tags” in it that tell the browser to do certain things. Within the HTML code will usually be references to graphics, music and videos which are the other types of accessible files on the server. The HTML code does nothing by itself. The work gets done by your internet browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, Chrome etc.), which interprets the standardized computer language, and assembles the website before your eyes. Of course, different browsers will interpret the different tags differently, so it is very common for the same web page to look slightly different in different browsers.
So far, everything mentioned above happens between what the server published, and your computer. There is a whole other dimension to websites known as “server side scripting.” This is what the server does before it sends the HTML to your computer. The most common server side scripting languages are PHP, ASP, Java, Coldfusion, Python and Perl. These languages are never read by your browser, so you don’t need to worry about compatibility with these. Server side scripts allow web developers to make dynamic web pages with advanced features, like database integration, site administration pages and secure login pages.