The web is made up of different websites. A website consists of one or more pages linked together and stored on a computer that is connected to the Internet. Websites are viewed using apps called "web browsers" or just "browsers". Nearly all browsers are free to download and use.
All web pages are written in a computer language called HTML, which stands for Hypertext Markup Language. The browser converts the HTML into something that's much easier to read.
Here's some simple HTML from another page in this section:
Not very easy to understand, is it? Fortunately, the browser will convert this into something that's more easily read.
The examples below use Google Chrome, the commonly used browser. All browsers might have a slightly different look and feel but all work in the same way. If you use one browser and then switch to a different browser, you should have no bother using it
The first thing to look at is the address bar. At the top, or near the top of a browser window, is what's called the address bar
Each website has a unique address that identifies it, the equivalent of a house address or telephone number (do you remember the IP address? Each website is stored on a computer which has a unique IP address). The website address is known as the URL - uniform resource locator. In the address bar above, we have typed http://www.rte.ie:
- http:// identifies the site as using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and so says to the browser that this is a website and should be treated as such
- www is a convention from the early days of the web - there's no real need for it in a URL - this site, http://library.etbi.ie doesn't use it
- rte is the "domain name", the unique identifier for the website (here, the RTE website)
- ie is the domain extension, which tells you what kind of website it is (there are more on website domains on this page) .ie is the domain extension for Irish websites. Note that is common practice, not a definitive rule - the Irish Times website is www.irishtimes.com, not .ie
After typing the URL and pressing enter, the browser will take you to the RTE website, specifically the homepage of the RTE website.
Each and every webpage has its own unique URL.
You can use your browser to visit webpages in two ways:
- typing the URL directly into the address bar - some URLs are very long and you might make a mistake
- clicking on a hyperlink.
At the top of the page there is a menu:
It's not immediately obvious but these are hyperlinks to other pages on the RTE website. A link (the commonly used and shortened form of hyperlink) is usually the URL of another webpage. Links are used to navigate between pages. When you click a link, most of the time it will take you to a different webpage, but it can also take you to a different part of the same page or let you download a file to your computer
If we move the mouse over one of the menu selections e.g., Entertainment, the text will change colour and your mouse pointer will become a little hand.
The entertainment link points to http://www.rte.ie/entertainment which is another section on the RTE website.
Returning to the URL for a moment, http://www.rte.ie is the homepage and http://www.rte.ie/entertainment is both a page and a section. On the entertainment page, there will be links to other pages.
The convention is for links to appear in blue and be underlined.
This is a link to Google.
It's blue, underlined and you mouse over it, the pointer changes to a little hand. On some webpages, links will be the same colour as other text, but when you hover the mouse over the link text, it will change in some way.
Tabs and Windows
When you open a browser, the webpage appears in a screen. When you're visiting the RTE website, this is what you see at the top of the browser:
There is a "tab" with a little RTÉ icon and the name of the site ("RTÉ Ireland's National Television...". If you move this mouse over this tab, this will expand to ""RTÉ Ireland's National Television and Radio Service"). Next to the name is a plus sign. Click on the plus sign to open a new screen. These screens are called tabs after the little tabs at the top that identify each screen, which look like traditional card tabs inserted in paper files or card indexes. Does that make sense? When you open a browser, there is one tab. You can open multiple new tabs and have multiple webpages open at once, but that's probably not a good idea as you might get confused and lose your place. The little tabs at the top of the screen identify the webpage open on each tab.
Here's an instance of Google Chrome with three open tabs; RTÉ, BBC and the Irish Times. See how one tab (The Irish Times) is a different colour to the other tabs? That's the active tab, the tab which is currently visible in your browser.
The three tabs are open in what's called a "window". You can have more than one browser window open at one time, for example you could have the three tabs open above in one window of Google Chrome and other, different tabs open in another Google Chrome window. However, it's better to keep your tabs in one window otherwise you might lose track of where everything is.