The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A website, Web site or WWW site (often shortened to just site) is a collection of webpages, that is, HTML/XHTML documents accessible via HTTP on the Internet; all publicly accessible websites in existence comprise the World Wide Web. 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 a single 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 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, or dynamically converted to HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and are accessed using software called a web browser. Websites consist of static HTML pages or pages that are created dynamically using technologies such as Active Server Pages (ASP), or Java Server Pages (JSP). A website also requires software known as an HTTP Server, such as Apache, the most commonly used web server software used on the Internet, or Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS). Often websites will also consist of content stored in one or more databases.

Plugins are also available for browsers which allow them to show active content, such as Flash, Shockwave or applets written in Java. Dynamic HTML also provides for user interactivity and realtime element updating within webpages (i.e., pages don't have to be loaded or reloaded to effect any changes), mainly using the DOM and JavaScript, support for which is built-in for most modern browsers.

Types of websites

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

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 brochures—that is, an advertisement that can be strolled around. Some websites act as vehicles to communicate with other people via webchat.

Websites are constrained by architectural limits (e.g. the computing power dedicated to the website). Very large websites, 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.


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.

Similarly, there is inconsistency with the use of the term "Internet" which is correctly capitalized, but is also widely spelled with a lower-case 'i'.

See also

Last updated: 07-29-2005 23:35:53
Last updated: 08-17-2005 04:18:39