A Web site, Website or WWW site (often shortened to just site) is a collection of Web pages, that is, HTML/XHTML documents accessible generally via HTTP on the Internet; all publicly accessible Web sites in existence comprise the World Wide Web. The pages of a Web site will be accessed from a common root URL, the homepage, and usually reside on the same physical server. The URLs of the pages organise them into a hierarchy, although the hyperlinks between them control how the reader perceives the overall structure and how the traffic flows between the different parts of the site.
Some Web sites require a subscription to access some or all of their content. Examples of subscription sites include many Internet pornography sites, parts of many news sites, gaming sites, message boards, Web-based e-mail services and sites providing real-time stock market data.
A Web site will often be the work of an individual, a business or organization, or dedicated to a particular topic or purpose. This is quite a blurry definition, given the hypertext nature of the Web: the whole of Wikipedia forms a Web site, but whether the Meta-Wikipedia pages are part of the same Web site or a sister Web site is open to debate.
Web sites are written in, or dynamically converted to, HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and are accessed using a software package called a Web browser. Web pages can be viewed on computers or various portable devices (PDAs, cell phones, etc.) that have internet-capable functionality and an available internet connection.
Static Web sites can be created using text editors like Notepad or WYSIWYG editors like Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver. Active Server Pages (ASP), Java Server Pages (JSP) and/or a host of other dynamic web-scripting languages can also be used to generate Web pages. Static content may also be dynamically generated periodically or if certain conditions for regeneration occur (cached) to avoid the performance loss of initiating the dynamic engine on a per-user or per-connection basis.
A Web site also requires software known as an HTTP Server, two very common examples include Apache, the most commonly used Web server software used on the Internet (according to Netcraft statistics), and Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS). Often Web sites may include content that is pulled from one or more databases or using XML-based technologies such as RSS.
Types of Web sites
There are numerous types of Web sites, each specialising in a particular service or use. A few types of Web sites include:
- Archive site: used to preserve valuable electronic content threatened with extinction. Two examples are: Internet Archive which since 1996 preserves 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.
- Business site: used for promoting a business or service.
- Commerce site or eCommerce site: for purchasing goods, such as Amazon.com.
- Community site: a site where persons with similar interests communicate with each other, usually by chat or message boards.
- Database site: a site whose main use is the search and display of a specific database's content such as the Internet Movie Database or the Political graveyard.
- Development site: a site whose purpose is to provide information and resources related to software development, Web design and the like.
- Directory site: a site that contains varied contents which are divided into categories and subcategories, such as Yahoo! directory, Google directory and Open Directory Project.
- Download site: strictly used for downloading electronic content, such as software, game demos or computer wallpaper.
- Game site: a site that is itself a game or "playground" where many people come to play, such as MSN Games, Pogo.com and the MMORPGs Planetarion and Kings of Chaos.
- Information site: contains content that is intended merely to inform visitors, but not necessarily for commercial purposes; such as: RateMyProfessors.com, Free Internet Lexicon and Encyclopedia.
- News site: similar to an information site, but dedicated to dispensing news and commentary.
- Pornography site: a site that shows pornographic images and videos.
- Search engine site: a site that provides general information and is intended as a gateway or lookup for other sites. A pure example is Google, and the most widely known extended type is Yahoo!.
- Shock site: includes images or other material that is intended to be offensive to most viewers.
- Vanity site (or "personal site"): run by an individual or a small group (such as a family) that contains information or any content that the individual wishes to include.
- Weblog (or blog) site: site used to log online readings or to post online diaries; may include discussion forums.
- Web portal site: a web site that provides a starting point, a gateway, or portal, to other resources on the Internet or an intranet.
- Wiki site: a site which users collaboratively edit (such as Wikipedia).
Many Web sites are a mixture of types. For example, a business Web site 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 eCommerce site or business site (that is, it is trying to sell memberships for access to its site). A fan site may be a vanity site on which the administrator is paying homage to a celebrity.
Web sites are constrained by architectural limits (e.g. the computing power dedicated to the Web site). Very large Web sites, such as Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google and most other very large sites employ several servers and load balancing equipment, such as Cisco Content Services Switches or F5 BigIP solutions.
The Webby Awards are a set of awards presented to the world's "best" Web sites.
As noted above, there are several different spellings for this term. Although "website" is commonly used (particularly by some newspapers and other media), Reuters, Microsoft, academia, and dictionaries such as Oxford, prefer to use the two-word, capitalised spelling "Web site". An alternate version of the two-word spelling is not capitalised. As with many newly created terms, it may take some time before a common spelling is finalised. (This controversy also applies to derivative terms such as "Web master"/"webmaster".)
The Associated Press Stylebook, the preeminent authority in newspaper style, suggests "Web site" and "Web page". "WWW site" is almost never acceptable.
- Web application
- Web content management
- Web service
- Web template
- World Wide Web Consortium (Web standards)
- Microsoft FrontPage
- Macromedia Dreamweaver
- Web hosting
- World Wide Web Consortium
- The Internet Society (ISOC)
- Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers
- Useit.com Internet Usability
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