The Best Guide to Web Build Terms

The Best Guide to Web Build Terms

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Introducing a glossary of terms in the design and development of modern day websites.

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Design Inc has been building websites for 25 years and, not only have the types, requirements and complexities of the websites we build these days changed dramatically but so has the glossary of web terms.

Having a website ‘just because’ everyone else is having one was an early reason behind a company’s decision to invest in a website. If we were writing a glossary of web terms for then, it would include words such as: world wide web, worms, modem, etc.

These days, it is all about the brand – pushing the brand message, attracting brand engagement, building brand loyalty.
And, in the world of the smartphone, where competition is but one finger swipe away, websites need to work much stronger, harder and more strategic than ever before.
Image is one thing, but a website’s speed, security, flexibility and functionality is now all encompassing in web design & build.

What follows is a glossary of web terms that are used in the modern web design & build project.

404 Page
A 404 page is the page which appears when you visit a website that doesn’t exist or couldn’t be found on the server – mainly because the webpage was moved or deleted. The broken link redirects to a 404 error page where a message indicating this error is shown.

The Administrator of a content management area is the person who can invite and remove Content Editors. The Administrator is typically the person who has control over the content management – typically the web designer and/or the main contact client-side.

One part of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, AdWords is an online advertising platform developed by Google, where advertisers pay to display quick advertisements which link through to the advertiser’s website.

ALT is an abbreviation for “alternative descriptive text” that is added to the image tag. ALT text plays an important role in optimising websites for SEO ranking.

API stands for Application Programming Interface and enables two different programs to communicate with each other. Developers can use this code (i.e. the API) to build tools and widgets that can be connected to that particular website.

Backend development essentially refers to everything that goes on behind the scenes. What happens at the backend (server-side) powers what happens at the frontend, i.e. what the user sees and interacts with. Backend development can be broken down into four main components of a software stack: the server, the database, the operating system, and the software.

A backlink is a link from an external website to your own website. The more you have, the more valuable it is for SEO as they represent a ‘vote of confidence’ from one site to another.

A blog is a collection of web pages consisting of informal diary-style text entries. Used to highlight news, product and sector thoughts, they can act as strong landing pages from Google searches.

Bootstrap is a free, open-source frontend framework for designing websites and web apps. It includes HTML and CSS-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, tables, navigation, modals and more, plus JavaScript plugins.

Bounce Rate
A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages. This is often a good indicator of how good a website’s navigation is, as well as an indicator of the quality of the site’s content. A high bounce rate simply means your website is not relevant to the people landing on it.

Breadcrumbs are the bit of navigation elements that generally appear near the top of a given web page and shows you the pages and subpages the appear before the page you’re on. For examples, on this blog, the breadcrumbs might look something like: Home > Blog > Year > Article

Broken Link
This is simply a hyperlink which leads to a web page which does not exist anymore.

A web browser is the software used to access the internet and display web pages. The most common browsers include Chrome, Safari, Opera, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox.

A cache is a temporary storage space for web data. When you visit a website, the files that you request are automatically stored in the cache. If you return to that same website in the near future, your browser will retrieve the necessary files from your cache rather than from the original server and this enables the webpage to load quicker.

Call To Action
Also known as CTAs, this is specific information which urges a visitor on a website to act. They are designed to move a visitor from one page to the next and persuade them to do something. (e.g. visit the contact page, get in touch, download a whitepaper, learn more, buy something, etc)

Also known as the Content Management System, this is a backend tool for managing a site’s content. Using a CMS generally makes it easier to change the design or function of a site independent of the site’s content. It also (usually) makes it easier for content to be added to the site for people who aren’t designers.

Cookies are small text files that includes a unique identifier and visit information that is sent to a browser from a website and stored on a visitor’s computer hard drive. This data can provide information about who visits the website, how often they visit, what parts of the site they visit the most and their browsing preferences.

This refers to the way a program or automated script browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner. Many sites, in particular search engines such as Google, use crawling as a means of gathering data in order to provide up-to-date information regarding websites.

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and is a markup language responsible for the visual elements of a website. HTML (another markup language) is used to determine the structure and content of the webpage. Web developers will then use CSS to style this content; in other words, CSS tells the browser how the HTML elements should be displayed. CSS is used to apply colours and to determine font, text size and alignment, to name just a few.

A database is an area within which all your web content (text, imagery, files, etc) is collected.

Do-follow Links
These are external links back to a website that, if added, enable search engine crawlers to follow that link within SERP.

Domain Name
A website’s domain name is essentially its address. It’s the address that users type into the browser in order to view a website — such as Every website can be identified by its IP address (a series of numbers), and the domain name is just a more user-friendly label for these numbers. 

Stands for Domain Name Service (alternately Domain Name System or Domain Name Server). It converts IP addresses into domain names so that, when someone types your domain name into their web browser, the DNS servers translate the domain name to the IP address and point the browser to the correct web server.

Short for electronic commerce. It’s the buying and selling of goods or services online.

Frameworks were invented to make the process of building a website faster and easier. A framework is essentially a collection of solutions, tools and components that you can access in one central location — rather than seeking them all out separately each time. Some common frameworks include Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap, AngularJS and Joomla.

Front End
The frontend is basically the opposite of the backend. It’s all the components of a website that a visitor to the site can see (pages, images, content, etc.) Specifically, it’s the interface that visitors use to access the site’s content.

Hamburger Menu
This is the name of the symbol consisting of three parallel horizontal lines displayed in the top left or right of a web page to save space. When clicked, it opens up a navigation menu to other page of the website.

Hosting refers to a web server where the files for your website are stored. Websites cannot function is they are not hosted on a server.

Hosting Provider
This is the organisation who is responsible for the secure hosting of a website on their servers.

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language – its a computer language used to create websites and describes how a document should be displayed by an internet browser as a webpage.

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is used to transfer data across the internet.

Similar to HTTP, HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol over SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or, alternately, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Like HTTP, it’s a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between browsers and servers, but done over a more secure, encrypted connection.

A hyperlink is a link from one web page to another, either on the same site or another one. Links are generally embedded into images or text like this.

Short for Inline Frame. An iframe acts like a window embedded into a page through which you can see another webpage.

JavaScript is primarily used as a client-side language and is embedded into the HTML of a page and sent to the browser.

JQuery is a JavaScript library and simplifies the task of using JavaScript on your website by condensing several lines of JavaScript code into a single line. Rather than adding many lines of JavaScript code, the developer can simply take the “compact version” from the jQuery library.

Keywords are individual words and phrases that define your offering. These are the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines in order to find you website.

Keyword Research
Keyword research is a practice search engine optimisation professionals use to find and research alternative search terms that people enter into search engines while looking for a similar subject.

Landing Page
A landing page is the page where a visitor first enters a website. Often, landing pages may not be clearly found within normal navigation but has been created to engage with the viewer who has landed there from a specific advertising or marketing campaign.

This is the act of pushing the website live for all to see. The website would have been sitting on a staging site prior to going live.

Lazy Loading
This is a web development technique that defers the loading of page content (text, imagery, videos, etc) until they are needed as a user scrolls down the page. By applying this technique, page speeds are dramatically improved

This is the name of a piece of code (typically a plug-in) that is embedded into a website and enables you to ‘chat’ (text) with the company in real time so as to bring a human touch to the website. Typically positioned bottom left of a website page, an automated message pops up ‘Can I help you?’. By responding, your message is delivered immediately into someone inbox / phone for them to respond back.

A set of data that describes and gives information about other data in describing the web page. These helps bots and search engines crawl the site to determine how it should rank in search results. They also help describe the page to potential users.

Meta Tag
A meta tag is an HTML tag used to include metadata within the header of your web page.

Mobile First
Mobile-first is an approach to web design which gives priority to mobile devices. With a mobile-first approach, the website is first built for the small screen with desktop design coming after.

MySQL is the world’s most popular open-source database management system.

Navigation refers to the process in which website visitors move around that site. Navigation is most often thought of in terms of menus, but links within pages, breadcrumbs, related links, pagination, and any other links that allow a visitor to move from one page to another are included in navigation

Open Source
Open source refers to the source code of a computer program being made available to the general public. Open source software includes both web-based and desktop applications and are generally free or very low cost and developed by teams of people.

Organic Traffic
This refers to the visits to your website from being listed in search engine results rather than from paid adverts (PPC / AdWords).

Page Speed
Page speed refers to the length of time it takes to load all content on a specific web page.

Parallax Scrolling
This is a technique in where background images & graphics on a webpage moves at a different speed to text when scrolling.

PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor, a server-side scripting language which is used to generate dynamic page content, to send and receive cookies, to control user access and to encrypt data.

A plugin is basically an extension that adds extra functionality to an existing software, such as plugins for your browser or add-ons for the WordPress CMS.

Pop Up
A pop up is a form of online advertising that appears on the foreground of a website typically when you hover over / click a certain area of the page.

Pay-per-click is an online advertising model used to drive traffic to websites, and in which an advertiser pays a publisher when the ad is clicked.

The registrar is the company used to register your domain name.

Resolution is a metric used to describe the display capabilities of a computer or mobile device.

Responsive Design
Responsive design ensures that a website is automatically adapts to be display correctly no matter which device the user is viewing it on; desktop, mobile or tablet.

Scrollable Pages
These are pages that have more content than is visible on screen and is accessed when you scroll down the page.

Search Engine Optimisation is the general process of creating and modifying content for the best visibility on search engines.

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Pages and are pages that display the results from a searcher’s search query.

Site Structure
Site structure refers to how you organise your website’s content. A website often consists of content on a variety of topics, presented on posts and pages. Site structure deals with how this content is grouped, linked and presented to the visitor.

A sitemap is an outline of all the pages on a website. There are three different types of sitemaps: those used by web designers when planning a website, hierarchical listings intended for the human user, and structured listings intended for search engines. Web developers use XML sitemaps to publish lists of links across their websites, in line with Google’s Sitemaps Protocol.

A slider is a visual tool commonly added to the home page of a website. These move (slide) to reveal different pieces of information whilst using up the same space on the page.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a standard security protocol for ensuring that all data transmitted between the web server and the browser remains encrypted and therefore unreadable to the naked eye. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by looking at the web address: if the URL starts with “https”, the website is secure. You’ll also see a padlock symbol in the browser bar.

SSL Certificate
SSL Certificates are small data files which allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. Over recent years, this has become the norm in the build of secure websites..

Staging Site
The staging site (or ‘test site’) is the area upon which the pre-launched website sits. The website can still be viewed (via secure password) but would not be complete or ready for launch.

Sticky Pages
These are pages which keep visitors on the site once they have navigated here. They are designed to be engaging enough to encourage visitors to keep on (‘stick’) to the site or a page and not go elsewhere.

A template is a file used to create a consistent design across a website. Templates are often used in conjunction with a CMS and contain both structural information about how a site should be set up, but also stylistic information about how the site should look.

A theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress powered website. Using a WordPress theme can speed up the build of a website as it has already been pre-styled and tested. That said, because they are already built, they are not as flexible if making wholesale changes.

Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A site’s URL is its address, the item that specifies where on the internet it can the found.

User Journey
The user journey is the expected navigation that the website visitor would makes when they visit the website. User journeys are used in designing websites to identify the series of steps that enable the user to achieve their goal as quickly and easily as possible.

UX Design
UX design stands for user experience design, and in terms of the web build, it is all about providing a positive, user-friendly experience for the end user as they navigate around the website.

Varnish Cache is a web application accelerator which is installed in front of any server that speaks HTTP and configured to cache the contents. Varnish Cache will seriously improve the website’s page speed.

Wireframes help designers to communicate to web developers how a website should be structured. A wireframe is essentially the skeleton of the website, providing information as to how the page layout and content should be arranged.

WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress, designed for small to large-sized online merchants. 

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system written in PHP and paired with a MySQL or MariaDB database.

Yoast SEO is a WordPress plug-in which provide on page direction & help to ensure the page is set up well for SEO.

Whilst this is a general glossary of web terms, it is in no means complete. But we hope this helps you understand the general terms involved in the design and build of a modern day website.

>>Guide to Print Finishing Terms
>>Guide to Advertising Terms
>>Guide to Branding Terms

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