A website or web site (often shortened to a site) is a collection of webpages, that is, documents accessible via the World Wide Web on the Internet. 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.
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 one person, one organization, or on a particular topic, or have a particular 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.
Types of websites
There are numerous types of websites, each specializing in a particular service or use. A few types of websites include:
- Business site: used for promoting a business or service.
- Commerce site or eCommerce sites: for purchasing goods, such as Amazon.com.
- Community site : a site where persons with similar interests communicate with each other, usually by chat or Internet forums.
- Database: a site whose main use is the search and display of a specific database's content such as the Internet Movie Database or the Political graveyard.
- Download site: strictly used for downloading electronic content, such as software, game demos or computer wallpaper.
- Game site: a site that is itself a game or "playground" where many people come to play, such as Zone.com, Pogo.com and the MMORPGs Everquest, Solar Conflict and Kings of Chaos.
- Information site: contains content that is intended merely to inform visitors, but not necessarily for commercial purposes; such as: RateMyProfessors.com, Free Internet Lexicon and Encyclopedia.
- Search Engine: a site that provides general information and is intended as a gateway or lookup for other sites. A pure example is Google, and the most widely known extended type is Yahoo!.
- Shock site: includes images or other material that is intended to be offensive to most viewers.
- Vanity site: run by an individual or a small group (such as a family) that contains information or any content that the individual wishes to include.
- Weblog (or blog): site used to post blogs (online diaries) and may include discussion forums.
- Wiki site: a site for people to contribute to material and exchange ideas (such as Wikipedia).
- Directory site: a site that contains varied contents which are divided into categories and subcategories, such as Yahoo! directory,Google directory,Open Directory Project,iSNARE Articles Directory
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.
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 spelling "Web site", with the first word capitalized. 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 such as Web master/webmaster, etc.)