Documents were most often presented as plain text files without formatting, or were encoded in word processor formats.Websites have many functions and can be used in various fashions; a website can be a personal website, a commercial website, a government website or a non-profit organization website.
A web site may be accessible via a public Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the Internet, or a private local area network (LAN), by referencing a uniform resource locator (URL) that identifies the site.
All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web, while private websites are typically a part of an intranet.
Web pages, which are the building blocks of websites, are documents, typically composed in plain text interspersed with formatting instructions of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML, XHTML).
Some websites require user registration or subscription to access content.
Examples of subscription websites include many business sites, parts of news websites, academic journal websites, gaming websites, file-sharing websites, message boards, web-based email, social networking websites, websites providing real-time stock market data, as well as sites providing various other services.
Before the introduction of HTML and HTTP, other protocols such as File Transfer Protocol and the gopher protocol were used to retrieve individual files from a server.These protocols offer a simple directory structure which the user navigates and chooses files to download.They may incorporate elements from other websites with suitable markup anchors.Web pages are accessed and transported with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which may optionally employ encryption (HTTP Secure, HTTPS) to provide security and privacy for the user.The user's application, often a web browser, renders the page content according to its HTML markup instructions onto a display terminal.Hyperlinking between web pages conveys to the reader the site structure and guides the navigation of the site, which often starts with a home page containing a directory of the site web content.