The WestHost Web Industry Glossary
Make sure you have a grasp on these terms to better communicate with your web designer or developer.
The web industry isn’t one you can master in one day; most developers and designers spend years absorbing the latest technical terms surrounding the web. If you don’t spend your days writing code or drawing up wireframes, most of this jargon is probably entirely foreign to you.
It’s helpful to be able to communicate with whoever is designing and building your website. Even if you’re speaking the same language, once acronyms and technical jargon enter the discussion there’s a good chance you’ll be lost.
In order to help you communicate your needs to your developer more effectively, we have created the WestHost Web Glossary. Understand these terms and you’ll be well on your way to grasping what web designers and developers are actually talking about.
Note: Most definitions have links leading to more information.
API: Application Programming Interface; a gathered set of protocols for building software applications. Websites will use an API to access another web-based application or tool.
Back End: This refers to the part of a website that is never actually seen by the user. The back end of a website usually consists of applications, data storage and whatever else is controlling the site.
Backlink: A backlink is when another website includes a link that trackbacks to your site. This improves your SEO, showing Google and other search engines that other people use your website as a reliable resource.
Bandwidth: The amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given amount of time. This is usually measured in billions of bits – which are referred to as gigabytes – per second.
Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors that leave your site after only viewing one page. This is a good indicator of how effective your site’s design is, as well as its navigation and quality of content.
Browser: The program you use to access websites. A browser locates the site you’re looking for and then displays it on your screen. Some examples are Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Edge (formerly Internet Explorer).
Client-side: Scripts that are run in the user’s browser rather than on the web server.
Cloud Hosting: A type of web hosting that utilizes resources from various machines in order to create a virtual environment called “the cloud”. Cloud hosting can easily scale up and down, and is generally more reliable than shared hosting.
CMS: Content Management System; an application that helps you manage your website. A CMS can help you build a website by using templates, and then once the site is built enables you to easily update and manage the site. Some popular examples are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.
cPanel: A powerful control panel that helps you manage your website, domain names and hosting account. cPanel features an easy-to-use interface to simplify the process of managing your web hosting.
CSS: Cascading Style Sheet; a style language that determines the look and feel of a website. A website’s color, font and format are all configured using CSS.
Dedicated Hosting: A type of web hosting that allows a particular person or company to have sole ownership of and access to a web server. With dedicated hosting you have complete freedom to use all of the server’s resources as you see fit.
DNS: Domain Name System; a system that translates domain names into IP addresses, which can then find which website you’re searching for. Your browser uses the IP address to display the correct site.
Domain Name: The identifying name of a website that you type into the address bar of your browser. Some examples are westhost.com and facebook.com.
E-Commerce: Short for electronic commerce, e-commerce refers to any website that sells or buys goods via the world wide web. For example, Zappos and Amazon are e-commerce sites.
Fold: The term used to describe the part of the web page that sits below what the browser initially displays. In other words, it’s what you see before you scroll down the site.
FTP: File Transfer Protocol; a network procedure that is used to transfer files from computer to web server via the internet.
Front end: The components of a website that the user sees and interacts with (e.g. images, videos, content). This is sometimes referred to as the User Interface.
GUI: Graphical User Interface; an interface that uses a visual representation to help a user interact with the application.
Hexadecimal: A numbering system used to define colors, generally when working with the web. Each number is written with several characters to determine the color. For example, blue is written as #0000FF.
HTML: HyperText Markup Language; a web language that creates the structure of the site and tells the browser how to display everything. HTML uses tags to build a site’s layout.
HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol; a set of instructions used to transfer requests between a web browser and web server.
Hyperlink: a link between web pages. This can be on the same website, or it can link to or from other sites. The text containing the hyperlink will generally be highlighted or underlined to specify that it’s a link.
IP address: a unique set of numbers that points to a location on the internet. Browsers use IP addresses to find which website to display.
Landing Page: The page where a visitor lands, or first enters a website.
Linux: A widely-used operating system that is used by the majority of web servers.
Metadata: Informative code that is contained in the header of a web page. This information is used by the browser and the developer, but will never be seen outside the source code.
MySQL: A relational database management system that uses the web language SQL. It is used for managing databases associated with a website.
Open Source: A computer program’s source code that is made freely available to the general public.
Permalink: A permanent link given to a blog post or page on a website. Since a website’s content is constantly changing, a permanent link creates an immutable location for the page. Permalinks can be bookmarked for future reference.
Plugin: a third party functionality that your site can implement. Plugins are especially popular if you use a CMS.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization; the process of improving your search engine rankings, or in other words aiming to get your site as close to the top of Google search results as possible. SEO strategies consists of quality content, changing the source code of a website and creating/drawing in hyperlinks.
Server-side: scripts that are run on the web server rather than on a user’s browser.
Shared Hosting: a type of web hosting that involves sharing a web server with other websites. This option is ideal for smaller websites that don’t require large amounts of resources.
Sitemap: a file that informs a search engine of the organization of your site. This helps the search engine to effectively display your website on search engine results.
TLD: Top Level Domain; the final piece of your domain name that follows the last “dot”. For example, .com and .net are TLDs.
WordPress: a popular CMS that is used to build many of the sites online today. WordPress is the world’s most widely used blogging platform.
Web Hosting: an internet hosting service that stores websites on servers and makes them readily available to the world. Web hosting is necessary to get your site live.
Web Server: a powerful computer that stores and delivers web pages when a browser sends a request. Web hosting companies such as WestHost manage web servers for their clients.