Ultimate Web Terms Glossary for 2023
Being a team of digital natives, it’s not uncommon for it to sound like we’re speaking a completely different language during a typical day around the office. Digital designers, web developers, digital marketers, and techies in general speak and think in this language every day, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you aren’t a long-time friend of the web. CMS, UX, SEO, CSS, SVG, PWA, PHP – acronyms are being thrown in left and right, mixed in with developer speak, design lingo, web terms, internet slang…
In a digital world where it feels like a new programming language is being invented every day and old ways are becoming obsolete at the speed of light, it can help to have a bit of background knowledge about how the whole thing works together!
If you’re a webophobe, technophobe or both, we’ve put together the ultimate A-Z glossary to put you in the know to make it easier to start and finish your next project.
These are broken into three sections:
General website terms
Accessibility refers to the practice of making sure your website can be used and accessed by all people, with all abilities and impairments. Some examples of accessibility include ensuring the contrast between your font and background is clear enough for people with visual impairments, that the videos on your website all have captions for those with hearing impairments, ensuring that you can tab through forms without a mouse for those that are mobility impaired, and ensuring your content is written using plain language standards for those that are cognitively impaired.
A good place to start to check your website for accessibility is the Website Content Accessibility Guide (WCAG).
Bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than taking an action, such as clicking on a link, filling out a form, or making a purchase. An average bounce rate range is between 41 and 51%.
A bounce rate in the range of 26%–40% is excellent. 41%–55% is roughly average. 56%–70% is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70% is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.
A call-to-action (CTA) is a prompt on your website that encourages users to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. Strategically placed CTAs can help guide your visitors through your site and increase conversions.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS, or Content Management System, is an online platform that enables users to create, modify, and manage website content through an editor that doesn’t require in-depth HTML knowledge. These systems are typically crafted by developers to provide a user-friendly interface, so that even those without coding expertise can edit their content effortlessly.
For years, WordPress has been a leading CMS due to its ease of use and compatibility with a myriad of plugins, allowing for enhanced user experiences with limited coding knowledge. However, the digital landscape is evolving, and newer, more intuitive platforms like Webflow are coming to the fore.
Webflow offers a modern, flexible, and visually-driven CMS, making it even easier for users to manage their content dynamically. Unlike traditional platforms like WordPress, Webflow offers the added advantage of built-in hosting and an intuitive design tool, streamlining the process of building, managing, and launching websites. As such, it’s increasingly becoming the go-to choice for agencies and businesses seeking a more comprehensive, efficient, and future-ready solution.
A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system, is a software platform used to manage interactions with customers and prospects. CRMs help businesses organise and analyse customer data, streamline communication, and improve customer service. Integrating your website with a CRM can help you track leads, manage customer enquiries, and better understand user behaviour.
HTTP cookies (also called web cookies, Internet cookies, browser cookies, or simply cookies) are small blocks of data created by a web server while a user is browsing a website and placed on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser.
Cookies serve useful and sometimes essential functions on the web. They enable web servers to store stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) on the user’s device or to track the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to save for subsequent use information that the user previously entered into form fields, such as names, addresses, passwords, and payment card numbers.
Authentication cookies are commonly used by web servers to authenticate that a user is logged in, and with which account they are logged in. Without the cookie, users would need to authenticate themselves by logging in on each page containing sensitive information that they wish to access.
Tracking cookies, and especially third-party tracking cookies, are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories – a potential privacy concern that prompted European and U.S. lawmakers to take action in 2011. European law requires that all websites targeting European Union member states gain “informed consent” from users before storing non-essential cookies on their device.
A domain, or domain name, is your website address. Typically this looks like ‘yourcompany.com’ but could also end with country specific options like .com.au, .co.uk, .co.nz or hundreds of other variations.
Just like your physical address, it’s just an address on the internet that specifies where your browser should go to look for information. Some people confuse their domain with their website.
Think of the domain as your house street address. It’s an easy way for people to find your house. Then think of your website as the house itself, contents and all. The domain is just a simple way for people to be able to find you.
When you register a domain name on the internet (and pay the registration fees), you are buying the right to use that domain name for a year (or whatever term is specified).
Understanding the role of your hosting provider is a hugely important part of running your own website. A hosting provider provides space on their server to host your website so that other computers can access it live. However, platforms like Webflow simplify this process by offering built-in hosting services, making the deployment of your website quicker and easier, while maintaining high performance and security standards.
Generally, hosting providers charge a fee for the service which is charged either monthly or annually – plans differ in the level of support they provide, security features, speed etc. Plans can range from limited and low-cost to high-level business plans. As a general rule, you get what you pay for with hosting plans. However, in the case of platforms like Webflow, the hosting cost is often included within the platform’s subscription fee, providing a comprehensive solution for your website’s needs.
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and protocols that allows different software applications to communicate and share data with each other. APIs are often used to integrate third-party services or features, such as social media feeds or payment processing, into a website.
Computer code is written for a variety of purposes, from web pages to computer desktop software to app development. Each purpose is associated with a different programming language. In order to write in a language that the program can understand, developers need to write code.
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is, as the name suggests, the first page of results you see when searching on Google, Bing or any other search engine. The SERP will show a list of results that the search engine deems most relevant to your search query (taking into consideration your past searching behaviour too!).
Typically the SERP will display 1-3 paid ads at the top, before showing a list of 10 organic search results, sometimes followed by additional ads at the bottom of the page. When looking at users coming to your website from the SERP, the traffic will fall into two categories: Paid Search and Organic Search. Paid Search refers to the ads at the top and bottom of the page, where companies are bidding against each other to achieve the highest rankings in an effort to acquire your click to visit their website.
Organic Search refers to all the other non-paid results that are displayed. While these results are not paid, there is still heavy competition to appear as high on the SERP as possible, as the vast majority of clicks will go to the results listed first. The process of ensuring your website lists as high as possible on the SERP is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – but that topic needs an entry all of its own!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Since the rise of the Internet and the complete saturation of web pages on the world wide web, it has become more and more important to optimise your web page for search results. This simply means, getting your website found through search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. However, Google is the main search engine to target, being the world’s most popular search engine by a long run.
A range of procedures can be executed to make sure you are following best SEO practices. Whilst site ranking factors are solely up to Google, who are free to change their algorithm at any time, it is important to follow basic optimisation exercises when building and updating your website – allowing your business to be found.
SEO generally refers to the entire practice on and off-site actions that will lead to a higher or more targeted ranking on a Google web page.
A URL is different from a domain in that it contains the ‘hypertext transfer protocol’ (HTTP), which basically tells the browser that you’re using a domain name instead of an IP address. HTTP is the underlying protocol that allows users to exchange information. If ‘test.com’ is your domain, ‘https://www.test.com’ might be your website URL.
You might also find HTTPS as a prefix to some web URLs, instead of HTTP. This just means that you have a secure connection to the server and no other computers can listen in on the conversation! Look out for this when entering personal details on any website, it is designated by a green ‘lock’ symbol in the address bar of your browser.
Web analytics involves collecting, analysing, and reporting website data to understand user behaviour and improve your site’s performance. Tools like Google Analytics provide valuable insights into how users are interacting with your site, helping you make informed decisions to optimise the user experience and achieve your business goals.
Webflow is a cloud-based development platform and CMS highly favoured by web design professionals for its ability to simplify the process of creating robust, responsive, and visually appealing websites. It’s a combination of a visual web design tool and a content management system (CMS), offering a balanced blend of creative control and functional efficiency.
Webflow also provides the capacity for seamless integration with a range of other tools such as Google Analytics, MailChimp, and Zapier. This compatibility allows for a comprehensive web solution, supporting everything from tracking user behaviour to managing email campaigns and automating workflows.
website design terms
A concept or mockup is a more detailed visual representation of your website’s design. It includes colours, typography (fonts), and images to give you a clearer picture of how the finished website will look. Concepts are created using design software and serve as a guide for our developers during the coding process.
A hover state is a visual effect applied to elements like buttons and links when the user’s cursor hovers over them. These effects, such as changing colour, adding an underline, or an animation, can enhance user experience by providing visual feedback and making the site feel more interactive.
INTERACTION DESIGN (IX)
Interaction Design (IX), often considered a part of UX, focuses on the interactive elements of your website and how users engage with them. It involves designing the behavior of your site’s elements in response to user actions, like clicking a button or scrolling down a page. A well-implemented IX ensures that your website is not only intuitive and easy to navigate, but also provides a responsive and engaging experience for the users, enhancing their overall satisfaction and interaction with your website.
A mood Board is a visual tool we use internally to gather and organise inspiration, design elements, and ideas for your website. It helps our designers establish a cohesive aesthetic and visual direction for the project, ensuring that your site’s design is consistent and on-brand.
A nav bar, short for navigation bar, is a horizontal or vertical menu typically located at the top or side of a website. It contains links to the site’s main pages, helping users easily navigate to different sections of your site. In the case that there are many links that need to be presented, a ‘hamburger’ menu (usually represented by three lines stacked vertically) is used. This will open a larger menu, or a ‘mega menu’, a style of menu that fills the whole page.
Responsive design is an approach to web design that ensures your site automatically adjusts to different devices, screen sizes, and orientations. This means your website will look and function beautifully on desktops, tablets, and smartphones alike.
A sitemap is a hierarchical diagram that outlines the structure and organisation of your website’s pages. It serves as a roadmap for both users and search engines, helping them navigate your site more easily. Creating a clear and logical sitemap is essential for effective website planning, as well as improving search engine indexing and user experience.
User Interface (UI)
The user interface (UI) refers to the visual elements of your website that users interact with, such as buttons, menus, and forms. A well-designed UI is crucial for creating a smooth, enjoyable experience for your site’s visitors.
User Experience (UX)
User experience (UX) encompasses the overall experience a user has while interacting with your website. It includes factors such as usability, accessibility, and how enjoyable the site is to use. A great UX keeps users engaged and coming back for more.
A wireframe is a simple visual representation of your website’s layout, which helps establish the arrangement of elements on each page. Think of it as a blueprint for your site, outlining the structure and hierarchy of content before we dive into the design details.
website development terms
Back-end development involves creating and managing the server-side logic, databases, and infrastructure required for a website to function. This behind-the-scenes work ensures your site is fast, secure, and able to handle user data and requests efficiently.
Cascading Style Sheets, commonly referred to as CSS, is a style sheet language used in web design to describe the look and formatting of a document written in HTML. CSS allows web designers to control various elements of a webpage, such as layout, color, fonts, and animations, across different pages at once.
A well-structured CSS makes a website visually appealing and ensures a consistent look and feel across the site. It separates the presentation style of web pages from the content, improving accessibility, and providing more flexibility and control in the specification of presentation characteristics.
A web developer works to write in a variety of programming languages of different functions in order to create digital products. A web developer will either write code in programming languages designed for the purpose of the front-end or back-end of a website (see Front-End & Back-End).
A web developer who has the expertise to take a project and see it through from conception to completion can also be called a full-stack developer, someone who is well-versed in all the layers of computer or web software/product development.
With the proliferation of digital platforms, enterprises are often crippled by a proliferation of CMS (Content Mangement System) instances — dozens, or even hundreds. As a result, they have to duplicate content from a website CMS to an app CMS and then to a digital display CMS. This is where Headless CMS solutions really shine.
A headless CMS is any type of back-end content management system where the content repository “body” is separated or decoupled from the presentation layer “head.” Content that is housed in a headless CMS is delivered via APIs for seamless display across different devices.
The term “headless” comes from the concept of chopping the “head” (the front end, i.e. the website) off the “body” (the back end, i.e. the content repository). A headless CMS remains with an interface to manage content and a RESTful or GraphQL API to deliver content wherever you need it whether that be a website, iOS app, Android app or any other platform, and another advantage is that if you ever want to change your technology stack you don’t have to worry about your content.
Some headless CMS options you might like to assess to find your best fit: Contentful, Prismic, Sanity.
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It’s an essential language for developers to use in order to specify content for a web page. It consists of tags and attributes that tell the browser what content the web page contains.
Having basic knowledge of HTML is extremely handy if you have anything to do with entering content into a site. Things like images and text are all specified with HTML.
Pixels, snippets and tags
Analytics and heat mapping tags enable marketers to better understand how users behave on a website, while a tag can be used to quickly install functionality that would otherwise require website developers to redeploy the entire site with the updates.
Now that you’re familiar with these essential web design and development terms, you’ll be better prepared to communicate effectively with our team during your website project. We’re excited to work with you and bring your vision to life! If you have any questions or need further clarification, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Now that you’ve mastered your Website terms, keep the momentum going and check out our Digital Marketing Terms Glossary!