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Website Terminology

By Kelvin Sprague
February 4, 2022

Technology can be confusing – we get it.

Websites and the terminology banded about by developers, designers and agencies can befuddle and bemuse the hardiest soul. So to make your life a little easier, we’ve come up with a glossary of commonly-used phrases:

The Basics

  • The Internet – An interconnected global network of computers and other electronic devices.
  • World Wide Web – Is an interconnected system of information in the form of pages and documents, linked via hyperlinks to URL’s.
  • Website – A collection of interconnected pages, files or documents that share a unique domain name.
  • URL – Uniform Resource Locator, this is the specific address of a website, page or document on the World Wide Web.
  • Domain Name – An easy to remember name that is associated with a IP address (see below), such as identity-studio.co.uk.
  • Browser – An application used to view or access websites, documents, video or files on the web. The most common being Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.
  • Bookmark – A way of saving your favourite website links (URL) in a customisable list, you can simply click to visit the site. Web browsers have various ways you manage and view these, with groups and ‘always visible bars’ for ease of use.
  • Hyperlink – is text, graphics or icons that links to a URL and redirects to that address.
  • Search Engine – Most notably Google, is web based software that allows users to search data from the entire internet. Where SEO and SEM aid individual sites to rise up through the rankings in the results.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves specifically improving your website to make it more visible by search engines.
  • Server – A computer connected to a network of other electronic devices called ‘clients’.
  • Website Hosting – An area on a computer server on which your website is stored.
  • WordPress – A free and open-source content management system, written in PHP and connected to a database such as MySQL.

Website Elements

  • Blog – A regularly updated website, written in an informal style, like a journal discussing thoughts and ideas.
  • Categories – These are subjects to which posts can be allocated. This helps to group together posts following a certain theme.
  • CMS – a Content Management System or CMS, is software that enables you manage the content of your website. Enabling the uploading of images, text and documents to your site.
  • Cookies – Are mostly harmless tiny text files stored on your computer. Most commonly used by websites to store your use of their site, be it simply remembering your movement around the site, e.g. producing recently viewed products for you or suggesting recommendations based on what you have been looking at. Some sites also track and share your activity to provide personalised items, generally in the form of advertising. With this in mind, websites have Cookie Policies explaining how the site is using them and if they are being shared with others.
  • Media – Web files such as images, videos or documents loaded to your website.
  • Pages – These are simple documents in a website and can be static or dynamic.
    • Dynamic – Pages are built on the fly drawing their information from a server or database.
    • Static – Pages made in HTML and do not change.
  • Posts – Like pages they are simple documents in a website, unlike pages, which tend to be used for core content. Posts can be categorised and are therefore more commonly used for blogs.
  • reCAPTCHA – A free service offered by Google that attempts to protect websites from automated abuse. Typically used on web forms, it looks to prevent automated submissions containing spam.
  • Resolution – This is used to describe the clarity of an image. It is typically managed in PPI (pixels per inch) or DPI (dots per inch). Higher resolution would have more dots per inch and would typically appear much sharper.
  • Responsive Website – a responsive website is one that resizes or alters its layout or the information displayed to the user dependent on the device, or size of visible screen area, available to that user. Its aim is to improve the user experience.
  • RSS Feed – Really Simple Syndication – Creates a simplified text version of the content of a website. Commonly used on news and blog websites that update as articles are added to the site. Users can subscribe to RSS feeds to view articles without visiting the site using alternative software.
  • Subdirectory – These are folders on your website most commonly used as a way of creating easier to read web URL links for groups. For example we use them on our website, notably here for our blog https://identity-studio.co.uk/our-thoughts/.
  • Subdomains – Replacing the www part of domain name to create totally independent web locations, such as for members. Microsoft uses it for support at https://support.microsoft.com. Once you own a domain name, you can add as many sub domains to it as you wish without having to purchase them individually. However, you usually require separate hosting for each.
  • Tags – Are a way of categorising content and may help a user find content of interest.
  • Vlog – A website or social media account where someone can post videos in an informal style.

Hosting and Web Formats

  • Bandwidth – A measure of capacity data that can be transferred between the web server and the user. Most hosting packages offer various allowances depending on the monthly visitors and file sizes being accessed.
  • Cache – Website caching is a way of storing data from a website to help speed up the load times. For example, an image that appears on several pages does not need loading remotely every time, as it stored. This is usually handled by the web browser you are using in a temporary directory that will eventually expire, or can be manually overridden.
  • CDN – Content Delivery Network – An enhanced server level caching system that allows much of the content of a website to be mirrored on various servers around the world. Allowing visitors to the sites to pull up the site quicker with the data retrieved from their nearest server.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is a language to describe the presentation of a web page or document written in HTML or XML.
  • DNS / Zone Files – Domain Name System – Is the directory of all the domains in use across the world. Zone files are added to domains to allowing functionality. Amongst other things they can specify what server address the website is located on and what mailserver your emails will be using.
  • Extranet – A private website or resource that can only be accessed by authorised users with access details, potentially from anywhere.
  • Firewall – Acting as a configurable form of security that protects users and files from cyber attacks. Webservers have them, email servers have them filtering incoming and outgoing emails. Your own computer will most likely have one with virus protection software including them offering extra levels of protection to your PC.
  • FTP – File Transfer Protocol is a standard communication protocol used to upload or download files from a personal computer or electronic device to the server.
  • FTPS – File Transfer Protocol Server (FTPS) is a combination of FTP and SSL. It’s a protocol used to upload or download files from a personal computer or electronic device to the server and adds greater layers of security than FTP.
  • Geolocation – Pinpoints the location of a device connected to the internet, providing the latitude and longitude. In web terms, commonly used to bring up data for the users that are valid to their area, often advertisements or stores near their current location. Used by Sat Nav and smart phones e.g. in your photographs, so it can tell you where it was taken.
  • HTML – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the simplest language used on the internet to define a web page.
  • HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol (often abbreviated to HTTP) is a communications protocol, used to send and receive webpages and files on the internet.
  • HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (often abbreviated to HTTPS) is a is a communications protocol that encrypts data using SSL/TLS travelling between two computer/device connections.
  • Intranet – A private website or resource that can only be accessed by users on closed private network. Usually used by business with access only available from the computers onsite using the companies own internet connection.
  • IP Address – Internet Protocol Address in the form of four numbers separated by fullstops i.e. that creates a kind of phone book directory for the internet. Identifying a unique location such as a website server, an email server or a users own connection to the internet via their broadband.
  • JavaScript – A web programming language that allows extra forms of interaction for the user. Common uses include animation, controlling videos and tracking analytic data.
  • Programming Language – There are many programming languages used in website development bringing enhanced features to life. From the relatively simple HTML and CSS, to SQL (for database interactions) to JAVA, PHP and ASP. With the later able to handle incredibly complex web technology.
  • PHP – Also know as Hypertext Preprocessor is an open source general purpose server-side language used to build dynamic and interactive websites.
  • SSL Certificate or TLS (Transport Layer Security) – Transport Layer Security has superseded SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This certificate enables secure connections from a browser to a web server. It encrypts the transferring data between the two connections.
  • VPN – Virtual Private Network – Allows users to connected to the internet hiding their true location for security and privacy reasons. Diverting the users internet connection via another service which can be located all across the world.
  • Web Friendly Imagery – Image formats that can be easily loaded in web browsers. There are variety of common formats.
    • GIF – A gif (Graphics Interchange Format) is a web friendly image format suited to logos and images with limited colours. They can also be animated. Gifs can include transparent parts, but these must be matted to a set background colour.
    • JPG – A jpg or jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group) file is a raster or bitmap image file format. If is scaled up it will lose resolution and become pixelated. The benefit of a jpg is that is a very compact file.
    • PNG – A png (Portable Network Graphics) file is a raster or bitmap image file format, so if is scaled up it will lose resolution and become pixelated. Can also include cutout transparency elements.
    • SVG – An SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) is a graphic that is drawn using points, lines, curves and shapes so when it is scaled up it always keeps a sharp edge and does not get pixelated. Can also include cutout transparency elements.
  • XML – Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple text based format for defining and storing structured information.

Website SEO and Search Results

  • Alt description – Alternative Text, often referred to as ‘Alt text’, is a brief description of an image.Screen readers may use this to aid someone with a visual impairment.
  • Keywords – Words that people type into search engines in order to find a specific website.
  • Meta description – A brief description of the content a web page. Limited to no more than 155 characters.
  • PPC – Pay per click, paid search marketing.
  • SEM – Search Engine Marketing (SEM) involves a digital marketing strategy to make your website more visible by search engines. Often referred to as paid search or pay per click (PPC).
  • Web Bot / Web Crawler / Web Spider – Automated software that scans websites’ content. Used by search engines to help with results pages. They can be ’talked’ to with requests using a robots.txt file on your website. Web Crawlers are also abused, used to send website owners spam and post unsolicited advertisements in comment sections.
  • Web Optimisation – Getting website files to a small enough file size as possible to allow website content to load quicker. Most commonly with images. Huge megapixel photographs will look amazing but will rarely be seen at full size on a webpage. Therefore a huge amount of load time can be lost for no benefit. In contrast, attempting to use a tiny low resolution image on a web page larger than its physical dimensions will mean it will load quickly but will appear very blurry.
  • Web Stats – A way of seeing how users interactive with a website. Stats can be tracked from the number of page visits to time spent on the site. It can also use geolocation of visitors. Google Analytics is the most common web stat provider where owners add a unique code to their website.

In conclusion

Website design terminology can be confusing but we at Identity Studio are always here to help you. We endeavour to make working with us as simple and enjoyable as possible. It is our job to empower you and your company so if your brand needs a lift please get in touch.

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