Organized by function a website may be
- a personal website
- a business website
- a government website or
- a non-government website
- a non-profit organization website or blog
It could be the work of an individual, a business or other organization and is typically dedicated to some particular topic or purpose. Any website can contain a hyperlink to any other website, so the distinction between individual sites, as perceived by the user, may sometimes be blurred.
Websites are written in, or dynamically converted to, HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and are accessed using a software program called a Web browser, also known as a HTTP client. Web pages can be viewed or otherwise accessed from a range of computer-based and Internet-enabled devices of various sizes, including desktop computers, laptop computers, PDAs and cell phones.
A website is hosted on a computer system known as a web server, also called an HTTP server, and these terms can also refer to the software that runs on these system and that retrieves and delivers the Web pages in response to requests from the website users. Apache is the most commonly used Web server software (according to Netcraft statistics) and Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS) is also commonly used.
A static website is one that has web pages stored on the server in the same form as the user will view them. They are edited using three broad categories of software:
- Text editors. such as Notepad or TextEdit, where the HTML is manipulated directly within the editor program
- WYSIWYG editors. such as Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver, where the site is edited using a GUI interface and the underlying HTML is generated automatically by the editor software
- Template-based editors, such as Rapidweaver and iWeb, which allow users to quickly create and upload websites to a web server without having to know anything about HTML, as they just pick a suitable template from a palette and add pictures and text to it in a DTP-like fashion without ever having to see any HTML code.
A dynamic website is one that has frequently changing information or collates information on the hop each time a page is requested. For example, it would call various bits of information from a database and put them together in a pre-defined format to present the reader with a coherent page. It interacts with users in a variety of ways including by reading cookies recognizing users’ previous history, session variables, server side variables etc., or by using direct interaction (form elements, mouseovers, etc.). A site can display the current state of a dialogue between users, monitor a changing situation, or provide information in some way personalized to the requirements of the individual user.
There is a wide range of software systems, such as Java Server Pages (JSP), the PHP and Perl programming languages, Active Server Pages (ASP) and ColdFusion (CFM) that are available to generate dynamic Web systems and dynamic sites. Sites may also include content that is retrieved from one or more databases or by using XML-based technologies such as RSS.
Static content may also be dynamically generated either periodically, or if certain conditions for regeneration occur (cached) in order to avoid the performance loss of initiating the dynamic engine on a per-user or per-connection basis.