How Does Websites Actually Work? A Simple Guide for Beginners

Before we’ve spoken about How Does the Internet Work? In this lesson, I want to talk about how exactly does Websites work.

What exactly HTML, CSS, and Javascript do? In order to access a web page, we all know that you need a browser, and that can be Chrome, Safari, Firefox, whatever is your favorite one. These are all pieces of software that allow you to look up the IP address of your website. And be able to receive data that it can render into these beautiful websites that we see. The data that you receive from the server usually consists of three types of files, HTML CSS and Javascript.

And you would likely have come across these types of files or these words before because they’re so common and they’re so integral to how web sites work. But what exactly do they do, and why are there so many different types of files? Why can’t we have one file that’s you know a website?

Well, they actually have very different jobs.


The HTML code file is responsible for the structure of your web site. If a Web site were a house, then the HTML would be the builder who would come in to build the walls or put in a toilet.

Basically, they establish the structure of your house, and when you write HTML code, you also build up the structure of your website so you could use the amount add an image or button or text box whatever it is that you need in your website.


Now the second type of file or CSS files and these files are responsible for styling your website. So, if you are building a house, then this would be the painters and decorators; they would be going around painting the walls or adding stylistic flourishes to your place and generally making the place look the way that you want it to.

And that’s exactly what CSS code does as well. When you incorporate CSS, it allows you to specify how you want your Web site to look. So you could say that yes, I have a button that I got from my HTML but that button I want it to be red, and I want the text to be white, and I want the font of the text to be an aerial that is all done using CSS code.


Now the final component is the javascript code, and this is the code that allows your website actually do things or have behavior. Again, for your new house, you could call an electrician who would be able to connect the wires to switch on your lightbulbs.

And somebody who does the plumbing so that your toilet can actually flush and the javascript code does exactly that. It allows your website actually to do things and have behavior.

So, for example, that button I added earlier on with my HTML code only when I have the javascript code can I actually make it do something interesting like sending off an email.

If we take the Google web site as an example, again, once we receive these files from Google’s server when our browser loads up the HTML files, get to see the website’s structure. Namely, there’s one image which has their logo. There are two buttons, and there’s a text box where we can enter our search.

Now when we receive the CSS files, then that will modify the appearance of all of those components. We don’t have any more buttons or any more images, but they now look the way that Google wanted it to.

And finally, when we incorporate the javascript files, then our website actually starts having behavior. It has functionality and is actually able to do something rather than just display some images and text to us.

Now the knowledge we’ve already acquired, we can already start messing around with web sites on the internet. So, open up chrome and head over to And if you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically a technology news website where I get my latest tech news.

Now once you’re over here, I want you to right-click on the title here (***Photo) and click on inspect.

Now, this brings up the chrome developer tools, and we’re going to be exploring this in a lot more detail. But for now, we’re going to use it to do something really simple. You can see that when I right-click on that heading and click inspect, it automatically opens up the entire code file that was used to render this website.

So, these are all of the elements that make up this Web site. And when you click on inspect it will highlight to you the part of the code that corresponds to the thing that you right-clicked. In this case, it’s this title. And inside this title, you can see that there is a link, which means that when you click on it. It’ll go to another web page, but it’s also got a bit of text.

If you double click on the bit of text that corresponds to the title, you can actually edit it right inside chrome developer tools. Let’s go ahead and change the front page of tech crunch.

Let’s say something like this; this is an excellent way of pranking your friends, especially when they can see that you’re on And the title of any of the text on the Web site is what you wanted to say and this is a great joke to play on friends who are maybe not quite as technologically advanced as you because they haven’t taken the course that you have.

Now, unfortunately, when I hit refresh on this website, all of my good work is gone. And the reason is that when I’m editing it here inside my browser I’m actually changing the local copy of this file that I got back from the Google servers, but when I click refresh then that makes a new request to the Google servers to load up a fresh copy of the Web site. So, of course, then an update to the original content.

In the next lessons, we’re going to be working with HTML CSS and Javascript so that you can create and host live on the internet your very own Web sites. Through learning how to code and how to build web sites, you’re going to be able to make websites that say anything that you wanted to look the way that you wanted to and have the functionality that you need.

So, all of that and more. I’ll see you in the next lesson.

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