Search Bar

Everyday we visit tens, even hundreds of websites. We type in a URL, hit enter and, like magic, a website appears. Yes, we know that the page is made up of HTML, this little piece had to go fetch something from the database to display my name and all the code someone had to write in order for the site to function properly. But do you ever think about what happens in the small amount of time between when you hit ‘enter’ and when the browser starts to render the page?

Domain Name System

Every website has an IP address of the computer it is running on linked to it. The DNS (Domain Name System) is the infrastructure that stores the IP addresses of every website. The DNS also maintains various types of records to make it possible to find the IP address of the URL you just entered into the browser. Below are only a couple of the more commonly used records the DNS maintains. There are also records with data related to emails, reverse DNS lookup and more.

Address (A) Record
The A Record points directly the IP address of a given domain name.

Canonical (CNAME) Record
A CNAME Record is an alias for another record. This record is used when multiple domains should point to the same IP address.

DNS Lookup Walkthrough

To understand how these records are used in a DNS lookup lets take an example URL and walk through the steps. Say we have a URL testsite.com and unknown to us it actually redirects to example.com.

  • After typing testsite.com into the address bar the browser sends a request my local DNS server for the IP address.
  • My local DNS server doesn’t actually know the answer so it goes up one level and asks its DNS server.
  • This DNS server does have an answer but it is a CNAME Record. The CNAME record says to look for the URL example.com. This DNS server sends this answer to my DNS server.
  • My DNS server caches this answer so next time it knows to look for example.com when a request comes in for testsite.com.
  • My DNS server sends the answer back to the browser.
  • Since the browser doesn’t have an IP address yet, it sends a request back to my local DNS server for the IP address of example.com.
  • This time my local DNS server does know the answer and sends the IP address stored in the A Record to the browser.
  • The browser can now use the IP address to find where the data is stored and render the webpage.

Time To Live (TTL)

Each DNS record also includes a TTL, or Time To Live, property. This property specifies how long a requesting DNS server should cache the answer it is receiving. If you have ever run into situations where, after changing the IP address of a web site, some areas see the change sooner than others – the TTL setting and caching is the reason. DNS servers cache answers to a domain name request and will not always reflect changes until this cache expires and sends a new request up the server chain.

Sometimes it is good to stop and take a deeper look at things that even as developers we take for granted that “just happen”. Learning something new can be a fun, rewarding experience and will only make you a better developer.

The date, January 9, 2007. It was a controversial day, feelings of anxiousness and excitement clashed with feelings of envy and jealousy. It was a day to change the face of the mobile world. A day that would revolutionize the way content was designed, developed, and deployed across the globe. It was the day the world changed forever, the day of… the iPhone.

Ch Ch Ch Changes

With the revolution of the iPhone in 2007, the entire web based world has been evolving and adapting ever since. The way that content has been created and managed has drastically changed due to the increase of mobile users and their presence in the World Wide Web. Mobile is easy, it’s convenient, and it’s instant gratification. Consumers want convenience. Mobile gives the consumer what they want, when they want it.

Turn and Face the Change

Change is difficult and doesn’t always come as quickly and as easily as anyone would like. That being said, change is a necessity if you want to thrive in a web based world. Back in the infant stages of mobile browsing, mobile websites offered little more than an overview of its desktop counterpart and seemed to function as a bandage for a problem that would continue to grow. This worked fairly well. Users could visit the mobile site, have their interests peaked, and then visit the desktop site later in the day eventually fulfilling all of their hopes and dreams from your great desktop site.

Changes are Taking Place

As time has passed and technology has grown, so has the appetite of everyday mobile users. 58% of American adults have a smart phone, 42% own a tablet, and 63% of all cell phone owners use their phone to access the web according to a study performed by PewResearch. What does this mean? It means that if you have a website, you potentially receive quite a large amount of mobile traffic. Hopefully, your website has been designed optimized for mobile viewing pleasure. Otherwise, you may be missing opportunities to meet new clients and increase your businesses success.

Time May Change Me

As development and design have evolved with mobile browsing, so has the technology that is used to harness the mobile web. Cell phones now boast fancy new quad core processors, slick new designs with edge to edge HD displays, and offer more memory than some basic computers sold in stores. Design and development are always playing catch up with technology, but new designs strategies have proven to be very effective when it comes to the mobile browsing world. The old ways of design sacrificed content for functionality in hopes that the user would still visit the website on their desktop after their mobile experience.

Responsive Design

In today’s fast paced design world it’s important to maximize your employees resources to make sure your website is receiving the best design it can receive. One of the best ways to make your website responsive and great for mobile viewing is enabling your website to handle multiple screen resolutions. By enabling your website to be responsive to different screen resolutions, you can easily create a more enjoyable and hassle free experience for your mobile users. The reasons for implementing a responsive design that handles multiple resolutions are;

  • Fat Fingers: Mobile users do not have the precision of a desktop mouse and the website should respond by making content scale with resolution size.
  •  

  • Smaller Screens, Larger Text: The screen size of a desktop ranges from a screen size of 13” to the Dallas Cowboys Jumbotrons 159’ x 71’. Cell phones weigh in with a huge screen size of about 4.5” ensuring that most of your website’s text is smaller than most ants. As screens get smaller, your text should get larger to aid the user in reading your content. 
  • Simplification: Websites to Adults are similar to big popup books for children. How do we peak the interests children? We make the books cool and interactive! Popup books are simple and fun to use, websites should offer the same enjoyable experience to adults. If I enjoy looking at your website, chances are I will spend more time there thanks to your responsive design.

Pique the interests of users and satisfy their curiosity as they navigate through your site. Encourage them to explore the site not because they have to, but because they want to. They should enjoy looking at your content because it’s well designed and responsive enabling any user on any device to view your website effortlessly. If your website is easy to use, then users will most likely enjoy using it!