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A website, Web site or WWW site (often shortened to just site and sometimes the acronym, w3s) is a collection of webpages, that is, HTML documents accessible via HTTP on the Internet. The pages of a website will be accessed from a common root URL, the homepage, and usually reside on the same physical server. The URLs of the pages organize 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 (parts of) websites require a subscription, with a fee to be paid e.g. every month, or just a free registration. Examples include many Internet pornography sites, parts of many news sites, gaming sites, and sites providing real-time stock market data.



A website will often be the work of one person, one organization, or on a particular topic, or have a particular purpose. This is quite a blurry definition, given the hypertext nature of the web: the whole of Wikipedia forms a website, but whether the Meta-Wikipedia pages are part of the same website or a sister website is open to debate.

Web sites are written in HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and are accessed using special software called web browsers. Plugins are available for browsers which allow them to show active content, such as Flash, Shockwave or applets written in Java. Some interactive content may also be generated with JavaScript, support for which is built-in for most browsers. An emerging standard called Dynamic HTML is starting to make an appearance, though no standard has been formally adopted yet.

Types of websites

There are numerous types of websites, each specializing in a particular service or use. A few types of websites include:

  • Business site : used for promoting a business or service.
  • Commerce site or eCommerce sites: for purchasing goods, such as
  • Community site  : a site where persons with similar interests communicate with each other, usually by chat or Internet forums.
  • Database: 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.
  • Directory site: a site that contains varied contents which are divided into categories and subcategories, such as Yahoo! directory , Google directory , Open Directory Project , iSNARE Articles Directory .
  • Download site : strictly used for downloading electronic content, such as software, game demo s or computer wallpaper.
  • Game site : a site that is itself a game or "playground" where many people come to play, such as , and the MMORPGs Everquest, Solar Conflict and Kings of Chaos.
  • Information site : contains content that is intended merely to inform visitors, but not necessarily for commercial purposes; such as:, Free Internet Lexicon and Encyclopedia.
  • Search Engine: 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: 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 used to post online diaries; may include discussion forums.
  • Wiki site: a site which users collaboratively edit (such as Wikipedia).

Many websites 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.

Many business websites have the appearance of brochure s--that is, an Censored page that can be strolled around. Some websites act as vehicles to communicate with other people via webchat.

The content of a website is constrained by the hosting computer's power, and also legally, e.g. by copyright, pornography laws, etc.


Mousetrapping is a technique employed by some "aggressive" commercial websites (especially pornographic ones) that prevents one from leaving it, depending on web browser settings.


The Webby Awards are a set of awards presented to the world's "best" websites.


As noted above, there are several different spellings for this term. Although "website" is becoming the most commonly used, particularly by newspapers and other media, academia (and some dictionaries such as Oxford) still prefer to use the two-word, capitalized spelling "Web site". An alternate of the two-word spelling is not capitalized. As with many other newly created words, it may take some time before a common spelling is finalized. (This controversy also applies to derivatives of Web site/website such as Web master/webmaster, etc.)

The Associated Press Stylebook, the preeminent authority in newspaper style, suggests that it is "Web site", "Web page", and rather "webcast", "webmaster". WWW site is almost never acceptable.

See also

Last updated: 02-08-2005 12:13:06
Last updated: 02-27-2005 18:56:35