A website sometimes called a web site, is a collection of web pages and content under a common domain name (such as, hosted on one or more web servers. Websites usually focus on specific topics or purposes like news, education, shopping, entertainment or social media. Users navigate websites through links between pages, typically starting at the home page. The most popular sites are Google, YouTube and Facebook.

All public websites make up the World Wide Web. Some websites are private and only accessible within a specific network like a company’s internal site for employees. People can visit websites using various devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones using an application known as a web browser.


The World Wide Web (WWW) was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist working at CERN. On April 30, 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free for everyone to use which led to its rapid growth.

The Code of (World's First Website)
Screenshot of world’s first Website ( code [Taken by CERN]
Before the Web and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), people used other methods like File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and the gopher protocol to get files from servers. These methods provided a basic directory structure for users to navigate and select files to download. Most documents were plain text files or were in word processor formats lacking any significant formatting.


Originally, “web site” was the common spelling and it was sometimes capitalized as “Web site” because “Web” referred to the World Wide Web. However, this spelling has fallen out of use and “website” is now the standard spelling. Major style guides like The Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook have adopted this change.

In February 2009, Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company reported that there were 215,675,903 websites up from just 19,732 in August 1995. By September 2014, the number of websites had reached 1 billion a milestone confirmed by Netcraft in October 2014 and first announced by Internet Live Stats. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web also acknowledged this milestone.

However, the number of websites has fluctuated since then sometimes dropping below 1 billion due to inactive sites. By March 2016, the number of websites surpassed 1 billion again and has continued to grow. In January 2020, Netcraft reported 1,295,973,827 websites and by April 2021, there were 1,212,139,815 websites on 10,939,637 web-facing computers with 264,469,666 unique domains. Approximately 85 percent of all websites are inactive.

Static Website

A static website has web pages stored on the server in the same format that is sent to the user’s web browser. These pages are mainly coded in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) used to control the appearance beyond basic HTML. Images, audio and video might be used to enhance the look and content but they generally remain non-interactive.

This type of website shows the same information to all visitors similar to handing out a printed brochure. Updates to the content are made manually by the website owner and require some basic design skills and software. Static websites typically present fixed information such as details about a company and its products or services using text, photos, animations, audio, video and navigation menus. Examples include simple forms, classic websites, five-page websites or brochure websites.

Static websites can use server side includes (SSI) to make editing easier like sharing a common menu bar across multiple pages. Since the site’s behavior remains the same for all visitors, it is still considered a static website, not a dynamic one.

Dynamic Website

A dynamic website changes or customizes itself frequently and automatically. Server-side dynamic pages are generated in real-time by computer code that creates the HTML while CSS files handle the appearance and remain static. Software systems like CGI, Java Servlets, Java Server Pages (JSP), Active Server Pages and ColdFusion (CFML) are used to create dynamic web systems and sites. Additionally, web application frameworks and template systems for programming languages like Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby help in building complex dynamic websites more quickly and easily.

A dynamic website can show the current state of conversations between users, track changing situations or provide personalized information. For instance, when someone visits the front page of a news site the server code might combine stored HTML fragments with news stories from a database or another site via RSS to display the latest updates.

Dynamic sites can be interactive using HTML forms, browser cookies or by creating pages that reflect a user’s previous clicks. For example, a retail website with a media product database might allow users to search for “Beatles.” The site will then dynamically display a list of Beatles-related products like CDs, DVDs and books.

Dynamic HTML uses JavaScript to let the web browser modify the page content interactively. To avoid the performance loss of generating content for each user or connection, some dynamic sites automatically regenerate a large series of static pages periodically.

Multimedia & Interactive Content

Early websites only had text and later added images. Web browser plug-ins were then used to add audio, video and interactive features making websites more complex and similar to desktop applications like word processors. Examples of these plug-ins include Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Shockwave Player and Java SE.

With HTML5, audio and video can be included without needing plug-ins. JavaScript which is built into most modern web browsers allows website creators to send code to the browser that enables interactive page content and communication with the web server. The browser’s internal representation of the content is called the Document Object Model (DOM).

WebGL (Web Graphics Library) is a modern JavaScript API that lets developers create interactive 3D graphics on websites without needing plug-ins. It enables content like 3D animations, visualizations and video explainers to be presented to users in an intuitive way.

Responsive design, a trend from around 2010, ensures the best viewing experience by providing a layout that suits the user’s device. These websites adjust their layout based on the device or mobile platform offering a richer user experience.


Websites can be broadly categorized as static or interactive. Interactive sites, part of the Web 2.0 community, allow interaction between site owners and visitors. Static sites provide or gather information without direct engagement with the audience.

Some websites are informational, created by enthusiasts or for personal use or entertainment. Many websites aim to generate revenue using various business models, including:

  • Content Sites: They post interesting content and earn money through contextual advertising, either directly or via ad networks.
  • E-commerce Sites: These sites sell products or services directly through the website.
  • Brick-&-Mortar Advertising: Some websites advertise products or services available at physical stores.
  • Freemium Sites: They offer basic content for free but charge for premium content (e.g., WordPress).
  • Subscription Sites: These sites require user registration or subscription to access content. Examples include business sites, news sites, academic journals, gaming sites and more.

“A website is your most powerful tool for communication. A website is a unique way to connect with the world. Whether you choose to create a website to share your passion for music, inform people of your business, sell products or any other reason, there are no boundaries to what you can do!”

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