Let us look into the basic principals of how a DotNetNuke (DNN) website works. This will help you gain a better understanding in the operation of your website.

Skins and content

Operation of DNN websites completely separates the skin of a website from real content. Skin is the graphic that appears on a website. The concept of complete separation of these two entities enables you to change the skin of your website without affecting its content (text, video etc). For example, think of content as a naked person and skin as different clothes he/she wears. Even though a person wears different clothes (skins) to completely change his/her appearance, the person (content) remains the same.


DotNetNuke software operates on a database which stores content that appears on the website. It is the database that supplies the content visible in the website. Each web page is assigned an ID number (Tab ID). This number is automatically generated by the website and stored in the database. When you click, for example, on a forum page in the menu of a website, it requests the database for content details, which it then displays in the skin. The forum page in this case is the Tab ID. This concept allows creation of unlimited number of pages. They don’t have to be created in a certain order as it happens in books, but can be created in any order. The web pages displayed in the menu system can be re-named and re-arranged at any time. The database enables a website to be updated easily by simply logging into a website and adding new content, click update and then log out. In a matter of minutes, you will have updated the website.


A module enables you to add content to your website. There are several modules one can choose from. These modules are included free in a DotNetNuke package. A Text/HTML module adds Text content to a web page, a Link module adds links to a web page.  There are about 100 free modules available. Others can be purchased from the internet to extend functionality. Such modules include Article modules, Shop Store modules among others.

Containers can be described as ‘wrappers’ of modules within a web page. A container allows you to add style and markup to any module irrespective of a certain module. A container is like a skin for a single module. A container must posses two elements in order to function properly. These elements are Content Pane and Module Actions.  The following are characteristics of a container:  it consists of HTML and CSS, provides a single Pane for content from where a module can be configured easily through a web browser, can be defined at the Portal, Page, Module or Pane Level, and is installable as an extension to a website.