How do the websites work. Basic knowledge worth to have.

Before you begin creating your own website and launch it to the Internet, it’s good to know the fundamentals of how the websites work. Let’s take a quick look at that, just the essential info.


Website is simply a content – text, images, graphics, videos – available online and presented in a collection of web pages. If website is a book, then web page is a page within this book. Web pages are linked with each other within a website, just like a table of contents lists all chapters of a book. A book has a title, a website is identified by a domain name and is published on a web server – a computer storing websites and accessible to Internet users. A website can be made up of a single page or it could have thousands of pages. Each page will have its own text, images and other elements. All web pages and elements are then placed in a folder and stored on your web host server.

Website is written in code that describes the layout, format and content on a page.  The most common coding language used to create web pages is HTML. 

Example of a website source code

Web server is an Internet-connected computer that receives the request for a website sent by your browser. The browser connects your computer to the server through an IP address.

In other words, to see your website on the Internet, you will need :

(1) website content – what  you want to publish (and others hopefully want to see 🙂 )

(2) domain name – the address to identify your website

(3) server (i.e. hosting service) to store your website and make it accessible to the visitors

What is a domain and where to get it

What you type into your Firefox/Chrome/Explorer address bar, this is exactly a domain name. is the domain name of my blog. There is an important rule: 1 domain name = 1 website.  A domain name takes you to a single website , it is unique to this website. No two websites can have the same domain name, otherwise we would end up in chaos. Imagine situation where one address corresponds to multiple geographical places – you type it into your GPS or Google Maps and see few paths to different places. Where do you go? 😊 So once you define your domain name, every time anyone types it into a browser, it will lead them exactly to your website and nowhere else.

Do you need to pay to get your own domain name?

Well, yes and no…

Many website builders (more on that later) offer free plans that comes with a free website address, for example

However, what you typically get in such case is something called subdomain. To continue with Weebly example – if you would like to name your blog, what you can get for free would be  While it is nice to get something for free, there are some disadvantages we have got to note :

  • Your website is not truly “yours”. You don’t own (I wish I did for sure 😊 ), you also don’t own your subdomain The website builder, although it is not likely,  has the right to delete any subdomains they wish, with or without warning.
  • Question of credibility. Ask yourself, would you trust a website that does not even have it’s own domain? You can settle for it for your first blog, but it simply does not look cool. And when we talk about business, many customers will simply not take seriously any company that doesn’t have its own domain name. Can you imagine, let’s say, Nope 😊  A custom domain name (plus a custom domain email address) gives your blog the professionalism and credibility and is simply a must if we are talking about a website for your business.
  • Search engines (Google, Bing…) give preferences to domain names rather than subdomains, which makes it easier to have more traffic for a custom domain website. Which is quite important if you want your blog to attract many readers.

Which leads us to the most common option, a custom domain. It is not free, but nowadays we can safely consider they are really affordable for everyone. It is not a big cost, no worries here. You can even get one “for free” from many hosting providers – as a bonus when you sign up for an annual service plan. 

Personally I have purchased my domain from GoDaddy for 6 USD for a full year. There are many options here, just search “cheap domain” and you will see lots of offers from dedicated domain / hosting providers : Namecheap, Bluehost, etc. Picking up the domain provider can be a bit hard, as all of them advertise as the best, the cheapest, the safest etc. etc. On top of that, there are literally hundreds of sites recommending selected providers, because they are getting paid for every client that purchases the domain using link on these sites (affiliate marketing). If you do not want to waste too much time here, my honest recommendation is GoDaddy. I am using it, I like the price and so far have no reason to complain about. If anything changes in my experience, I will make sure to write it right here.

What is a hosting service

Key concept here is a web server – the computer that receives the request for a web page sent by your browser. You type in a site address in a browser, in reply the browser is asking the web server to send the contents (code) of a website and shows it to you on the screen in graphic form. If you website is not uploaded to a web server, then it is not accessible (viewable) on the Internet. 

Can you set up your own server at home? Sure, but this is not a practical solution for non-experts, requires certain knowledge and time. Consider also the fact that your computer would have to be turned on 24/7. I never considered this option.

Instead, there are companies – web hosting service providers – that are providing server space for a fee. Buying service from them is the most practical thing to do. You are simply renting a space on a web host’s server. For a monthly fee, they let you use space on their servers to host your website. Also, as it’s their server, not yours, it is their worry to take care of all the technical stuff which we don’t want to care about (setting up and maintaining the server, keeping it accessible 24/7 and secure, making backups of data etc.). So apart from paying the monthly fee, you don’t have to worry about anything.

How much does it cost you will ask…? The cost is bearable in my opinion. Hosting will cost you considerably more than the domain name, but still, it is not a fortune. Again, just search “cheap hosting” and you will be flooded by offers. To name just a few popular options: Bluehost, DreamHost, Hostgator, Siteground, GoDaddy, Hostinger … list is long and the prices start from as low as 1-2 dollars per month.

My choice was a bit more expensive provider – Cloudways, where I am billed 12 USD monthly. I have chosen this provider as it was recommended by Tom from who is obviously much smarter than myself in this area. So far I am very happy with this choice, so can also honestly recommend it. Their plans from 12 to 96  USD / month depending on the plan, you can check out current offers at Pricing section of their main page . For your first blog, go for the base one and you have 99% chance it will be sufficient for a start.

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Creating a website – options

Website builders

OK, so we know that to publish your website you need to secure a domain name and a hosting service. But how do you actually create the website itself ? As mentioned before, it is written in code, so it must be very hard, no…?

Press Ctrl+U to see the code of this page – you understand any of it? Me neither- at least not at a first glance. 😊

Luckily, it is not that difficult at all. To create a website (and I mean a good, fully functional and professional looking website) you do not need to be an IT expert or to have any technical skills at all in fact. How come?

There are a lot of website creators available that allow to build attractive websites without much or any technical knowledge. A little more on this website-creator-thing please? Sure – we are talking about applications that are available online (via browser, no need to download it and install on your computer) and are designed for the non-tech person in mind. Few examples of easy-to-use website builders :, Wix, Weebly , Squarespace.

What they all have in common is that …

  • No technical knowledge is required. You can create your entire website without ever writing a single line of code. The professionals manage the technical aspects “behind the scene”.
  • It’s visual. Website builders typically use a What You See Is What You Get editor that lets you create your website by dragging and dropping website elements into the desired location.
  • Everything is online-based. As already mentioned, there is nothing to download, nothing to install. Just open the website creator page in your web browser, sign in and start building your website.
  • Professionally-designed templates. All most popular website builders come with an extensive library of professional design templates. No need to hire a graphic designer to have a good looking website.

Also, you can use some of them for free – at least part of the functionalities they offer. I have used Weebly editor to build one page (that I never published online later, but it doesn’t matter here) and all I had to do was to register on their page. No cost on my side. – one of popular website builders

If you are willing to invest more time and gain some technical knowledge, then there is also an option to use a site building applications such as WordPress. They let you build more complicated, customized websites – but require bit more effort to do that. Few words about WordPress in next section.


Other possibilty is to use a WordPress. It is a web publishing software , or a website content management system (CMS) in other words, very widely used today. I have found info that in fact, WordPress powers over 40% of all the websites on the Internet. This percentage may be different today, but it gives an idea of how common this software is used. What is really amazing is that it works both for individuals and big businesses… and everyone in between. You can use it to create a great looking website or blog, as it is suitable for beginners. A content management system is simply speaking a tool to manage technical aspects of your website without needing to know anything about coding. Also, WordPress is open-source, meaning anyone can use or modify the WordPress software for free.

To sum it up, WordPress makes building a website accessible to anyone – even people who aren’t developers. The website you are reading was made in WordPress, by myself, with no background in IT.

Search ‘wordpress’ in any search engine and two sites will come up on the very top: and  What’s the difference between them? is a free, open-source software that you can install on your own PC to create a website that is your own. It is also called self-hosted WordPress. is a paid service that is using the software. It’s simple to use, but not as flexible the self-hosted WordPress. vs .com

Most of the time, when you hear someone mention “WordPress”, they mean the self-hosted WordPress from If you want a website that is 100% your own, self-hosted is the easiest solution to use. To to get started with self-hosted WordPress you just need to secure the web hosting service and a domain name, as described in previous part.

Here is a wrap up of WordPress benefits : 

  • free – as an open source software you will never have to pay just to use the WordPress software, which isn’t the case with some alternatives
  • easy to install – if you can click few buttons, you can install WordPress on your site; no need to invest lot of time just to get started
  • extensible – you will find lots and lots of easy to use plugins and themes to change how your website looks and functions (see below for more info on this)

Themes change how your website looks. They are libraries of prebuilt designs that you can use instead of designing a website from scratch. It literally requires few clicks to import them and then you can customize them in your own way. Example: Astra themes, which I use, as it is really cool and 100% free to download and use (you must pay for Premium features however) According to one recommendation I found, Astra is one of the top WordPress theme picks because not only does it look good, but it’s also optimized for performance. It has plenty of different designs and makes super easy for non-techy users to build a website. I can confirm this opinion from my own experience.

Plugins change how your website functions. They can be something small and simple, like a contact form, or huge and complex, like creating an online store. Just to give you an idea how much of this stuff is available – it is estimated that there are over 50,000 free WordPress plugins and 5,000 free WordPress themes. On top of that, tons of premium (payable) options .

Most web hosts either offer to preinstall WordPress for you so that your site is ready to go right away or give you dedicated tools that make the install process beginner-friendly. So… is the WordPress worth a try? Yes, definitely. From what I read in multiple sources, it is really one of the best options to build your first website. My practical experience confirms that website dummies like me can easily master it enough to create a simple website. Just remember that self-hosted and are not the same thing. And in most situations self-hosted is where you want to go.

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