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Phoenix Web Technologies

The Basics of the Internet

What is HTTP and FTP?

All the abbreviations you see every day on the web can be confusing, but are fairly easy to understand with a little background.


The Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, what you see in your browser address bar as the first part of each website address (http://phoenixwebtech.com), is the heart of the internet.

The internet is basically a web of linked text files (this is why it's called the World Wide Web, or the internet, an interlinked network of files). The web was built around text files, and it still works best with them.

For all practical purposes, search engines only read text files. These files are what will bring people to your website, not glitzy graphics or Flash animations, and that's why our sites are always built with that simple fact in mind. This site, for example, uses no graphics at all in its page layout.


File Transfer Protocol is the other basic way files move around the internet, except FTP is usually only used to move larger files. This is how we like to send and receive all larger files.

A Brief Introduction to the World Wide Web

If you are not familiar with how the web works, there are a few basics that might be useful to know. The internet basically works pretty much like your own computer. There are files stored on your web server, and when you type in a request, or click a link on a webpage, you are simply requesting one of those files. The only difference is that the file is traveling from the host computer to your computer, where it is displayed on your browser.

Your website is a collection of these files, which in turn are stored in folders, just like on your computer. However, it takes a file much longer to travel from the web server computer hard drive (over often thousands of miles of wires) to your computer than it takes a file to travel from your own harddrive to your processor. This is why things like file size become much more important when you are dealing with the internet.

We are always extremely conscious of file sizes when we make a website for this reason. Each webpage is made up of several plain text files, the main page HTML file, some CSS formatting files, and a javascript file. The total size for these files probably runs around 20 kiloBytes. A dialup connection usually runs at around 5 kiloBytes per second. So it would take about 4-5 seconds for a visitor to get to view a well written page over a dialup connection. Broadband connections are much faster, from 5 to 50 times, roughly.

Currently, dialup connections make up about 75-80% of all users in the United States. Those numbers are even higher outside of the USA. We always keep this fact in mind when making your website.

Why Using Images and Flash are not a Good Idea

Images however are another story. An image has a much larger file size than a text file, and the more images there are on the page, the longer it takes to load. Search engines cannot read images, or Flash Animations, so as far as the web is concerned, these kinds of things are basically just extra baggage that serve no purpose.

This is why we make our sites using as few images as possible. We do all our formatting with CSS technology (Cascading Style Sheets), which is much more efficient, flexible, and powerful. The files only need to load one time per visit to the site, which means that after the first page has loaded, subsequent pages will load in about 1-2 seconds. Users really like this, since it means they don't have to wait to see the page they are looking for.

We process all images we do use to achieve the best possible balance between image quality and image file size. This extra care can result in dramatically improved page loading times, without visibly affecting the image quality, and is the reason we prefer to do most, if not all, of the image processing for your website.

A typical graphics based web page, which is what most amateur web designers make, can easily be five to ten times larger than a site built with pure HTML and CSS, with absolutely no gain in performance, functionality, or search engine positioning. Quite the contrary, in fact. It's much harder to maintain, search engines ignore all the graphics, and users leave when they get annoyed at how long it takes the page to load.