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Web Design Fundamentals is a survey of Web design and development techniques and technologies, fundamental concepts, terms, and best practices involved in professional web design. Instructor James Williamson examines popular web development tools, server-side software solutions, content management solutions, and cloud-based software, providing a high-level overview of the world of Web publishing.
Often, in the course of learning new skills, we focus on learning the skills themselves and not the underlying processes behind them. This is certainly true in web design where many web designers can tell you how to compress images for the web, write HTML or CSS or any number of web design related tasks. However, many of those same designers probably couldn't tell you what a DNS server does or when a document type definition is needed? Too often, we focus on learning a specific skill to perform a specific task, and then moving onto the next one, without really focusing on the bigger picture.
As a web designer, it's important to understand how the web works and the processes involved in hosting, serving, and rendering websites. By understanding the terminology and processes involved, you'll create more efficient sites and have a concrete understanding of why you do the things you do. Before we move on to specific terminology, let's take a moment to examine how the web works as an overall process. If you could compare learning web design to building a house, consider this the foundation.
The web can be summarized as a series of interactions between two types of systems, clients and servers. Clients are the devices that request and render your web content. Popular clients include browsers, mobile devices, screen readers, e-mail programs and chat clients. We live in an increasingly connected world, and the number of clients that can access web content is growing rapidly. In fact, trying to keep up with all the new clients and how they access and render your content is one of the most challenging aspects of web design.
Servers are applications that deliver web content or services to the clients. There is a wide range of web servers, from FTP servers, mail servers, database servers, name servers, application servers and more. They are all involved, in some way, in delivering the content you request or the services you need performed. If you're interested in the programming aspect of web design, or in hosting your own site, you'll need to become familiar with the different types of servers and how they work.
Now that we understand the client-server model the web is based on, let's take a closer look at the process of requesting and receiving web content. Most of you probably already understand that your browser request pages from web servers based on the links that you click or the addresses that you type into the browser. As with most processes however, there's a little bit more going on behind the scenes. When your browser makes a request, it uses a URL or Uniform Resource Locator to locate the requested content.
This request is usually passed onto a Domain Name Server or DNS. The DNS then translates the URL into an IP address. The browser then uses this IP address to locate the host server and send a request for the content. Now based on the file type requested, several things take place next. If the request is a simple HTML page, the HTML text is sent to the browser, where it's rendered, and then presented to the user. If the page contains additional requests, such as CSS or images, these requests are presented to the server and rendered as well.
In the other movies in this chapter, I'll begin to discuss individual terms and functionality in more detail to help deepen the understanding of how these processes work together.
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