Join Laurie Burruss for an in-depth discussion in this video How a user connects, part of Web Site Planning and Wireframing: Hands-On Training.
Once you understand the big picture of how the Internet and the world wide web works, the next thing to take a look at is how you the user connect to this service. There are really four parts that you need in order to be able to see a web page on your computer. The first thing is the web page or what we call the HTML document. The second thing, which you are all familiar with, is the web browser. The third thing is the Web server and the last thing is a way to connect the Web server to your computer, what we call the ISP or the Internet service provider.
So let's take a look at how this all works. Over on your personal desktop computer, you've got a webpage displaying but it's displaying through a browser. Now what most people don't realize is a browser is a software application. It's an application, and .EXE or. DMG, that you have to download to your machine, just like anybody else. Most of us aren't aware that it's an application because when we buy our computer it's preinstalled, but it's certainly okay to have more than one browser and if you're a web designer, you often have four to six browsers of various versions to be testing for your audiences and for whatever your client's needs are.
So get used to the fact that you'll have a lot of browsers on your computer. What the web browser does is you type in an address and it goes out to the server and gets the page and brings it back for display. Its job is to go out to the server, get that page and display it properly. I call it the TV set of your computer. Just like when you go into Target there's all different brands of televisions you can buy, browsers are the same way. They come in lots of flavors.
The third thing you need is what we call a server and this we don't know as much about and it seems like it's this god-like thing that lives out there in another world. It's sort of like 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the way I like to talk about the server is it's basically just this big storage room. And what this big server does is store your website and any assets, any links, anything that belongs with your website, images, movies, animations, right there in a directory. And when your browser pings it, it looks for the file and sends it back to the browser. Its job is to do that day and night and the only thing that can happen is sometimes you get too many people trying to get to the server and you don't get good delivery.
The last thing you need is what we call the Internet service provider. The Internet service provider is a way to connect to the Internet. You have to have a way for your computer to connect to that server and this is a paid, monthly service that you can get. Both the Web server and the ISP provider are monthly services. For just a moment, I'm going to switch out to the Internet to show you a couple of examples of Web hosting services. I bookmarked two companies that do what I call comparison charts on Web hosting services. Now a large company will probably provide its own servers, set up that in its IT department, and deal with all of those issues, but most of us individuals and small businesses will be using a web hosting company. The best thing to do to start thinking about how to do this and how to set this up is to go out to one of these charts, look at the comparison, compare the features, compare the services, come up with the basic monthly cost that you can afford.
Typically you get a much better deal if you buy it for a two-year contract as opposed to month to month. This company is called mybestratedwebhosting and as you can see it changes all the time and it always has the last update that was put there. Generally these hosting services run from $7-$12 a month. The other web site host comparison chart that I like is on e-wisdom. Although it doesn't show the comparison quite as well, it does show the features of each web hosting company just a little bit better and ranks them from its most recommended to its least recommended. So in this one you can see that Lunar Pages is at the top, whereas in the other website Blue Host was at the top. It doesn't matter what you'd use but you should get a reliable one and these kinds of sites steer people into the right direction.
Typically these comparison Web hosting charts are put together by users and recommendations of the clients and what the client feedback has been on using these hosting services. So this is a good place to start. The other place to start is start with your friends and people who already have gone through this experience and ask them what they like, but cheaper is not necessarily better. It really helps to look at both the price and the features and then choose one. With the webpage, the browser and the server you have all of the appliances you need but you need a way to connect to the Internet. There are a number of types available from very large to very small. The largest one that most of us are familiar with is the T1 line, the one that we think every media company uses, and the smallest one is the modem, which although used in some early areas and distant areas in the United States is fast becoming extinct.
Most people these days are looking into using either DSL or cable as a way to connect to the Internet. DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line and it works with phone lines and cable works with the cable that actually provides for your cable television. In my neighborhood in Pasadena, these services are provided through what we call communication service companies. You can get your television, your phone and your Internet service all through the same company and they're providing that for you.
But the most exciting and probably the one we all want the most these days and hope to have everywhere are WiFi and cellular phone networks, and the reason why is that it means no wires and it means access at anytime, anywhere, any place. That's why we all want it. It's a little bit like being in some magic Teflon bubble where we open our computer, click on our browser and we can make that connection. And I think that's fast what we're moving towards and it's important to understand that as a web designer. So let's take a look to what can it be like to be a web designer in next two to five years. It actually means that when we're delivering our webpages to the browser that we'll be looking at them on a laptop, on a cellular phones, on a computer, on a movie screen even maybe. There's going to be a number of ways in which we deliver our Internet content out to a variety of devices. So when I tell my students to get prepared to be a web designer, I say forget what happened last year. Just think what's going to be happening five years from now, because they're going to need someone who knows how to do it and you could be that someone.
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After learning the tools and techniques demonstrated in this course, viewers can continue on to the next course in this series: Creating a CSS Style Guide: Hands-On Training.
- Seeing, scanning, and reading a web page
- Understanding naming conventions
- Creating file structures
- Understanding page hierarchy
- Using Acrobat and Photoshop with wireframes
- Building a professional wireframe from scratch
- Identifying and using web standards in site design
- Usability Testing