The Framework for a Website
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The Framework for a Website

A website is a group of webpages organized around a common theme, or created to work together in some manner, or owned by the same person, group or company. A website can be a single domain name ( ), which may include many sub-directories as part of the website, or it can be a sub-directory of a larger domain, such as,  but still separate from the larger domain, beyond sharing an address on the Internet.

To illustrate this difference, think about domain names as addresses on the Internet, as you would think about large office buildings as addresses in a city. A company might have its own office building, or even several office buildings, in a corporate office park. Another company might rent an office suite, or an entire floor, within a large office building owned by another company. When you rent an office in a building owned by a large company, your business is still completely separate and distinct from the owner of the building. However, the name of the building might be a landmark that helps people find your office. (For example, you might be located in the Medical Arts Building, which is owned by Dr. Jones.) 

Large companies, like IBM and AT&T, need their own domain name (or their own office buildings) because they have very large, complicated websites that may include javascript, secure data transfer for credit information, large databases, or many interactive components with bi-directional data transfer. Large companies also need their own domain name because of public relations, and because their names are easily recognized by potential customers.

Smaller companies, and professional practices of all sizes, do not need their own domain names because their websites are less complicated, and any secure data transfers, including credit information, occur infrequently enough to be easily managed within a larger domain. Name recognition is rarely high enough to justify a separate domain name, as long as the parent-domain name is related to the business or profession.

However, the extra expense of a personal domain name is minimal, so the choice is yours. A separate domain name may be practical, if it is very short, related to your practice specialty, similar to your practice name, and easy to remember. The primary advantage of a separate domain name is permanency. If you decide to move your website, the domain name will move with you.

A website is made up of one or more web pages, linked together in an organized fashion. A website also contains other files -  for data, graphics, background colors, and small programs, that are accessed by the web pages as needed. On smaller websites, all the webpages may be connected together, allowing viewers to jump around the site in any order. On larger websites, there is usually more organization to the links. Sometimes the links are arranged to funnel the viewers in different directions according to decisions they make about the information requested. Large websites may also use index pages, or a Table of Contents, to direct viewers to different parts of the website.

Here is the framework for a typical website:

  • Index page - This is the primary webpage for the website. It provides introductory information, and explains the organization of the website. The main page on a site is usually called index.html because the search engines use that format to find the primary pages of websites on the Internet.
  • Content pages - Each content page contains information about a topic. On smaller sites, all of the content may be included on the Index page, or in a few separate pages. Larger websites may have hundreds of content pages. Each content page is a separate file on the website.
  • Graphic files - Every picture or graphical image on a website is stored in a separate file, in a file format that can be read by browsers and easily transmitted over the Internet.  Even the background for the website can be a graphical file.  You do not usually view graphical files alone, as they are automatically loaded by your browser when you access a web page.  These files can be used by more than one webpage on your website.  These are called shared files, or assets.
  • Javascript, xml and cgi files - These are small programs, that perform certain actions when executed. The HTML code on a webpage can include orders to execute these programs, and also tell your browser where the program files are located on the host server.  Blinking text, simulated movement of graphical images, rollover buttons on navigation bars, online forms, pop-up messages, and counters are all controlled by these programs or scripts.
  • Links - These are not separate files, or images. Technically they are not programs, although they do tell your browser to execute certain commands. Links are the backbone of the Internet, because they instruct your browser to move from page to page, according to your wishes.  Links are part of the HTML code in a web page file. When you click your mouse on a link, a command is issued to your browser to go to another page, either within the website you are browsing, or to another website, on a server anywhere in the world.  Some links even launch your mail program, and insert the e-mail address of a webpage contact into your message, so you can send an immediate message to the webmaster.  The Bookmarks or Favorite Places on your browser are a collection of links with labels.

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