How to Tell What Platform a Website is Using

August 8, 2019
August 8, 2019 Madeleine

Have you ever been to a website that is so cool you just have to know how it was made? As a digital marketer, this is a common curiosity to have. Whether it is because you were checking out a competitor, you were browsing the web and found a new e-commerce trend, or you just found a really interesting website, you sometimes need to know how something is made so you can add it to your arsenal.

Fortunately, there are ways to get this information. This article will take you through several ways to find how a website was built, and how to find many details that aren’t obvious just by browsing the site.

how to tell what platform a website is using

Using a Tool or Extension: Identifying a website’s platform is quite a common problem to have, and many companies have developed methods to solve it. There are several online tools that will break down a website’s technology for you based simply on its URL. Here are a few of the more popular tools on the market:

BuiltWith.com: Simply plug in the URL on BuiltWith’s homepage, and it can tell you which technologies the website was built on. BuiltWith also comes with quite a powerful analytics tool to help you monitor and compare several websites. You are able to break down websites based on certain site details or hosting methods, and filter by location, traffic levels, and more. For example, if you want to find out which small businesses in your area use Shopify to host their website, you can do it with BuiltWith. By monitoring these trends, you can ensure that your website is on the forefront as well.

W3Techs.com: W3 Techs is a no frills website. Enter a URL and it will break down which technologies were used to build that website. Information is presented in neatly organized boxes. First, it provides a simple background of the website including how long it has been active and traffic information. Second, it provides the Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress, Squarespace, etc. From there it dives into more detailed categories such as programming languages, site elements, analytics tools, and more.

This is a great tool if you are looking for your information to be presented in a simple, straightforward manner.

What CMS: What CMS is a very detailed identifier of a website’s Content Management System (CMS). By entering a URL, it will actually break down the amount of individual pages on a website that were built with a certain CMS. For example, it will tell you if certain pages were built on Squarespace, and certain pages on WordPress. What CMS is a helpful tool if you are only looking for a detailed analysis of a website’s CMS. CMS is their primary focus and where they concentrate the majority of their development efforts.

Wappalyzer: Like the others, Wappalyzer detects a website’s Content Management Systems, frameworks, server software, analytics, and more. Wappalyzer’s unique advantage is that it is a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome. It will collect data within your web browser as you are visiting a website. You may find this a convenient alternative to visiting a separate website and entering a URL.

Shopify App/Theme Detector: This is another browser extension for Chrome that is highly useful for a specific purpose. If you know a website is built on Shopify, this will help you narrow in on the specific themes and apps that were utilized within Shopify itself.  If you are intrigued by a competitor’s Shopify store and want to dig deeper, this could be the perfect tool to find out exactly how they built their site.

Which tool is for me? As you can see, there are many tools that can tell you what platform a website is built on. In the end it will come down to personal preference. Some tools provide more detail than others, but perhaps you find a simple layout more accessible. Try these tools out and see which one helps you most.

Source Code: If you want to get tech-savvy and prefer the do-it-yourself method, there’s always the option of pulling back the curtain and looking into a site’s code to find the answer. Simply right click on a webpage and choose “inspect” or “inspect element”. If you know how to read HTML you can find your answer here. For example, if an element of code is “wp-content”, that section was built with WordPress.

This method does seem overly convoluted considering all of the tools that are readily available which do the work for you. But if you are an experienced coder, or looking to hone your skills, this might be the way to go. Then again if you are an experienced coder you probably don’t need this article anyways.

how to tell what platform a website is using

Wrap-up: As you can now see, there are many tools that will tell you which platform a website uses. This information can be highly useful to digital marketers to stay up to date on trends in website building. It is important to know not only how successful websites are built, but also how they track and monitor data and analytics.

One suggestion for using this information is to know what you are looking for before you begin your search. Many of these tools offer detailed organization and analytics for organizing your results. If you intend to discover what makes a website successful, it is important to decide on a group of variables beforehand, so that you are not overwhelmed by the results. Content Refined can help you identify these variables by clearly defining your niche and identifying what kind of information would be most helpful in ensuring ongoing success.