How do websites work?

Have you ever asked yourself the question, "How do websites work?" It is a VERY interesting question. You need to know the answer in order to be an effective website builder. But if you are new to the web you need a simple explanation. This is a simple, fast explanation of how websites work.

This topic is also discussed in: World Wide Web Basics.

First a few definitions:

Internet Service Provider
Is a company which primarily offers their customers access to the Internet.
Name Server
A specialized computer that translates Internet addresses that people use (like into Internet addresses that computers use (like or visa versa.
A computer that relays messages through the Internet.
Web Server
A web server is a computer used to send web pages and files to people who request them.

Let me explain how websites work from the viewpoint of you browsing the Web. You are interested in working out at a gym. So you decide to search for a local gym at Google.

You type the Internet address '' into your browser's address bar and hit "Enter".

Your browser sends out an electronic request to the Internet through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This request has both your computer's and's Internet address attached to it.

A computer, called a Name Server, translates the name '' into a number that a computer would recognize. To a computer, this number represents an Internet address. It is easier for a computer to use a number for an Internet address. It is easier for a person to use words (like for an Internet address. An example of a number that's represents an Internet address is

The request from your browser, using a number for an Internet address, gets relayed from one computer to another until it reaches a computer (there are many). These relaying computers are specialized machines called routers.

When the request reaches a computer it gets processed. A computer called a Web Server locates the requested page, copies it and sends it out to the Internet. In other words, a Web Server sends the page you requested out into the Internet and attaches your computer's Internet addess to it. Using your computer's Internet address the routers relay the page to you. Your browser gets it and displays it for you.

On the search page you just received you search for "gym and Philadelphia." The process starts all over again. The same process also happens when you click a link.

This article has addressed the question, "How do websites work?" so that you can have the fundamental information you need to effectively build your own website. The process I have described to you above is really much more complicated than that. But you don't need to learn all that if you are just starting to build websites. If you are interested in learning more then see this link: How do websites work?

Website Building Tip

There are many technologies incorporated into the Web.

These technologies must all be working properly in order for you to see a web page.