No conversation about web design would be complete without addressing both client-side and server-side technologies. To the average Internet user, this terminology may be a bit confusing. However, if you are planning to hire a web design firm to create your company’s web site, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of how the process works so you can make a more informed decision. Fortunately, you won’t need an advanced degree in web design to develop an adequate grasp of this topic.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the difference between client-side and server-side technologies is to consider how a standard web page is displayed. Typically, there are two players involved in that scenario – the computer and browser where the page is ultimately displayed (the client) and the location where the web page actually resides (the server). In terms of web design, different programming languages and technologies are employed on each side of this scenario in order to facilitate the transfer of information and how it is displayed. Of course, the ultimate objective of this process is to enhance the end-user’s experience.
A busy restaurant is one common analogy used to describe how this process works. Let’s say you walk into your favorite restaurant during the lunch hour and grab a seat. You (the client) are just one customer among many, while the restaurant (the server) must accommodate the requests of many customers at once.
To continue the above analogy, the “restaurant” (the server) is the destination where many clients go to view the web site or page in question. Therefore, the server side is responsible for responding to and interpreting a variety of requests. From a web design standpoint, server-side technologies allow for a lot of interesting possibilities in terms of creating dynamic web sites. Common examples of server-side technologies include PHP, CGI (Common Gateway Interface), ColdFusion and JSP (JavaServer Pages). These server-side scripting languages make it possible to process and present a wide range of data and information related to your web site.
Again, you don’t need to have a thorough understanding of how each of these technologies work. However, you’ll want to be familiar with these concepts before beginning your web design project so you can select a design firm and web hosting provider capable of meeting your long-term needs. So be sure to ask specific questions about what your new service provider can support in terms of scripting languages and technologies. Doing your research at this stage will ensure that your web site will function how you intended.