In broad terms, there are two linked parts to a website: the way it looks, and the technology which makes that happen. The technical build involves putting the technology in place and making sure it works properly.
The first stage of the technical build is to set out the structure of the site – often called its ‘architecture’ – including:
- the way the site will work
- what, in general terms, the site will include
- how the various pages or sections link to each other
At its simplest level, the technical build involves writing and compiling the code that make the website work. Most sites are written using a language called HTML (hypertext markup language) or one of its variants. The most common of these are eXtensible HTML (XHTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS).
Building complex sites
The technical build for some websites can be a very complex process requiring a high level of technical expertise. This is usually the case for sites which have:
- lots of pages
- an online shop, forum, or blogs
- content that needs to be changed and updated all the time
- rich content such as graphics, audio and/or video
- links with in-house computer systems such as customer relationship marketing (CRM) programs
In these cases, the technical build will involve integrating a wide range of technologies, as well as writing the HTML code. Technologies used on complex sites include:
- database management systems
- content management systems (CMS) which allow the site owner to change the content of the site easily and safely
- photo and video galleries
- in-site search engines
- integration with systems like Google Maps or translation engines
- RSS feeds, which show regularly updated content, often in the form of a ‘news ticker’
- blogging and forum software
The final stage of the technical build involves putting the content on the site (‘populating’ the site), testing it and sorting out any problems.
Do I need to know this before I build my own basic site?
No. Sites made using templates or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) design packages hide the technical build – the coding is done automatically, so the person who makes the website needs little or no technical knowhow.