How Websites Work: Learn what works.
If you’re curious about how your favorite website works, or if you want to know if it uses something schematic, this article provides several ways to look under the hood and see how it works.
View the Websiteâ€™s Code
If you’re not a developer or just starting out, you’re about to learn the secret to better programming. Look at someone else’s code. We showed you how to use the Chrome Developer Tools to do this.
BuiltWith.com is a professional-grade resource that goes deeper into sites to see all the technology they use. They currently cover over 673 million websites and are growing. The main idea of â€‹â€‹the site was to help attract potential customers who sell software.
Advanced features are only available with a paid subscription, but anyone can go to BuiltWith.com, enter a website address, technology name or keyword, and get a detailed technology profile. Sign up for a free account and you’ll be able to do five detailed searches a day.
Netcraft has been a resource for web developers since 1995. Their 25 years of experience is reflected in Netcraft’s free Site Report tool. It combines a technology report with the Who Owns the Site reference report so you can get a detailed overview of the site. You will know where it is hosted and who owns it, as well as a little history of the domain.
The Netcraft site report allows unlimited searches. However, only use it when you really need it. It’s a free resource and the developer community would like it to stay that way.
W3Techsâ€™ Sites Info
The W3Techs Site Information Tool works a little differently than others. They store a database of information, but only on sites that have already been viewed with this tool. If you check a site that hasn’t been checked before, it will instantly crawl it.
The report presented is less detailed than other services, but still insightful. You will find out what CMS, programming languages, web server and hosting provider the site uses. W3Techs also provides extensions for Firefox and Chrome browsers, so you can check sites with one click or tap.
If you’d rather use a browser plug-in to test site technologies, Wappalyzer has plug-ins for Firefox, Chrome, and Edge. The plugins are free, easy to use and have an easy to read design. By clicking on any technology in the report, you will see an explanation of it, which is great if you find something that you haven’t seen before.
Wappalyzer offers a unique feature with the ability to create alerts for the website. They check the site daily and email you if they find changes. The notification will require you to create a free Wappalyzer account and will cost 10 credits per month.
But you get 50 credits for free every month, and the warning only costs 10 credits every 30 days. Thus, Wappalyzer alerts are mostly free if you track 5 or fewer sites.
All but one of Webspotter‘s services are chargeable, but that’s okay. Their free Webspotter Chrome extension makes up for that. The Webspotter extension is similar to Wappalyzer, but has several different features. Next to each technology listed, there are links to statistics about the technology, a list of websites that use the technology, and the technology’s official website.
An even more intriguing feature is Webspotter‘s ability to pull email contacts, social media links, SEO analytics, and other company information from a website. While that doesn’t tell you how the site works, it can be useful for internet marketing purposes or even job search.
You may not be very interested in web development, but are building a WordPress site and would like to include features that you have seen elsewhere. Download the WordPress Theme Detector Chrome Browser Plugin.
The WordPress theme detector will not only tell you which WordPress theme a site is using, but also tell you which WordPress plugins it uses. It also shows you who created the theme or plugin and provides a link to where you can get it. This makes it easy to add elements to your WordPress site that you’ve admired on other sites.
Learn How Websites Work
Yes, it’s very easy to dive into any website on the internet and see what it’s made of. Try using two or more of these tools, as some will pick up what others don’t. Most of what you see on the site is actually displayed on your computer. That’s easy to look at. This is also the reason why you need to make your site as secure as possible. Enjoy a deep dive and let us know what you found or built.
How Websites Work: Learn what works
How Websites Work: Learn what works