Learn these Common Website Terms & You’ll Sound Like a Pro in No Time!

When I started thinking about writing this article, I figured it would be a straight forward list of words with definitions. Then it made more sense to me to put the terms into some meaningful context.

I know this isn't for everyone. Hopefully, as you read the article you'll gain a better picture of how things fit together and the internet works for websites, (at least on a basic level). After all, does anyone really know how it ALL works? 

If not, you can skip to the bottom of the page to see the list of common terms and their definitions

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The Foundation

All websites have the following in common: A Domain Name, a Hosting Provider, and a Platform.

DNS
Why We Have Domain Names

You need to buy a domain name for your site.

A domain name is how we remember a site address.

Choosing a name that relates somehow to your site usually works best, but let's not forget that this didn't stop Google.com or Amazon.com from becoming household names (eventually). 

Linking Our Domains To Our Websites

Without domain names, websites would only be made up of a bunch of numbers and dots, known as IP Addresses. Every device that connects to the internet has an IP address. This is computers, phones, and includes servers that host our websites.

Domain Name and IP Address

The Domain Name System (or DNS) matches domain names with their IP address. We are never going to remember a bunch of numerals and dots - it's far easier to remember a name.

Website Host System
Website Hosting Companies

A hosting site is a company that you pay monthly or yearly to have them store your website. These are kept and backed up on their servers.

When you set up a website for the first time, there's a step you need to do to point your new domain name at the server of the your website hosting company. 

What is a Website Platform?

A platform what we use to build our website. This could be WordPress, Wix, Shopify, SquareSpace, Weebly, or any of the website builders available.

I think of it as the bones (skeleton) of the website. All the font's, images, pages, text... everything else, is built on top of the website platform.

I prefer WordPress as a platform for a variety of reasons, but there is a huge number of website platforms available. 

What is CMS? 

One term you'll hear from time to time is CMS or Content Managed System. Honestly, I rarely hear this used in every day website-owner life, but I'm just throwing it in here for the sake of completeness.

A content management system (CMS), is the software we use to create, manage, and modify the content on a website. The alternative to this is code. As far as any of us here are concerned, this is the platform we use to build our websites. 

The Foundation

All websites have the following in common: A Domain Name, a Hosting Provider, and a Platform.

Why We Have Domain Names
DNS

You need to buy a domain name for your site.

A domain name is how we remember a site address.

Choosing a name that relates somehow to your site usually works best, but let's not forget that this didn't stop Google.com or Amazon.com from becoming household names (eventually). 

Linking Our Domains To Our Websites

Without domain names, websites would only be made up of a bunch of numbers and dots, known as IP Addresses. Every device that connects to the internet has an IP address. This is computers, phones, and includes servers that host our websites.

Domain Name and IP Address

The Domain Name System (or DNS) matches domain names with their IP address. We are never going to remember a bunch of numerals and dots - it's far easier to remember a name.

Website Hosting Companies
Website Host System

A hosting site is a company that you pay monthly or yearly to have them store your website. These are kept and backed up on their servers.

When you set up a website for the first time, there's a step you need to do to point your new domain name at the server of the your website hosting company. 

What is a Website Platform?

A platform what we use to build our website. This could be WordPress, Wix, Shopify, SquareSpace, Weebly, or any of the website builders available.

I think of it as the bones (skeleton) of the website. All the font's, images, pages, text... everything else, is built on top of the website platform.

I prefer WordPress as a platform for a variety of reasons, but there is a huge number of website platforms available. 

What is CMS? 

One term you'll hear from time to time is CMS or Content Managed System. Honestly, I rarely hear this used in every day website-owner life, but I'm just throwing it in here for the sake of completeness.

A content management system (CMS), is the software we use to create, manage, and modify the content on a website. The alternative to this is code. As far as any of us here are concerned, this is the platform we use to build our websites. 

Building on the Foundation

Common Website Terms

The Theme / Layout
website theme

Depending on the Platform you choose to go with, you'll have access to a host of different themes. Themes set out the basic look and layout of your website. 

Header, footer, Menus, sidebar, widgets

Headers and Footers will show across pages and posts of a website and are used for navigation around a website. 

The Header is the top section of your website that generally contains the site logo or name, and a menu. It can also include a Search function and social media links.   

The Footer is the area at the bottom end of a website, and can include the same menu as the Header, a different menu, or links to different Pages.

Menus are used by your visitors to navigate around your website. These can be made up of Pages or Posts.  

Sidebars run vertically on either the right hand or left hand side of a website. This may appear on Pages or Posts, or just on Posts. It can have links to Related Posts, a search button, or a bit of additional information about the website.

Widgets can be added to Sidebars and Footers. These are commonly sign up forms to a newsletter, an Ad, links to other posts, or images. 

Links - Internal & external
Links

Something often overlooked or underrated are links. This applies to both Internal and External links. 

Internal links are jump points from one part of your website to another point also within your website. 

External links are links from within your website to another website. These can also be other websites linking into your site. 

Pages & Posts - What's the difference?

Posts and Pages are easily confused.

Pages are the ones you'll generally see in a website Header menu. They will be the About Us, Contact Us, Legal Pages, etc. Pages are also used as your top tier in navigating your Posts.   

Posts contain other content. These can be information articles, product pages, reviews, recipes, blogs, etc. 

As an example, if you have a Garden maintenance website, you may have a Page titled Lawn Mowers. This page title will show in your Header menu. Once a visitor clicks on the Lawn Mowers link in your Header menu, they are taken to a page that lists or provides links to your Posts on lawn mowers. 

Fonts (Topography), Images & text

Heading and text fonts isn't as important in the big picture as say, your layout, but your choice of fonts for headings and text can really set the mood of a website. 

The same goes for your use of images and the writing style you choose for your content. 

Google Fonts

Other Basic Common Terms


Why should you go with a WordPress website
Dashboard & Console

In this instance, the Dashboard refers to the main page of your website platform. This is where you can access your Settings, Pages, Posts, Appearance, etc, of your site. 

Console is also used in many instances as the main page of your web host to access settings your site. 

plugins and functionality

WordPress uses Plugins to add extra options (functionality) to your website. There are a few common ones all sites should have such as some Security measures. Which ones you select to install can also come down to personal preference. There are thousands of Plugins. 


Google Analytics Dashboard
analytics & scripts

Something that is really helpful is to connect your website to is Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These show you the stats of your website, including how many visitors are coming to your site, where they are from, and which pages they are visiting - and that's just for starters. 

Scripts are used to connect things like Google Analytics to your site. It's a piece of code. It's fairly basic to copy the code from the Google Analytics console into the correct place in your website. 

e-commerce & Payment Gateway

An E-Commerce website is one that sells products or services online. These can range from large stores with many products, to a site that may be quite small only selling a service.

Either way, e-commerce sites have a Check Out and Payment Gateway system. Payment Gateways are add-ons with security that can accept customer payments via credit card or other payment systems such as PayPal.

Web Browsers
ISP, Browsers & Search Engines

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. Your ISP is who you are paying to gain access to the internet.  

The software application you use to access the internet is called a Web Browser. These include Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox, Opera, etc. 

A Search Engine is a site that you use to search for information such as Google or Bing. Even Pinterest is considered a Search Engine.

Guide to Common Website Terms and their Definitions

Analytics - These show you the statistics of your website. This can include visitor numbers, pages most visited, device used.
Browser - A Browser is the software application you use to access the internet. These include Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox, Opera.

CDN - Stands for Content Delivery Network. A CDN is a server that is located in a more geographically convenient location to benefit your website. Using a CDN is like having a mini-server nearby to help run your website faster and more efficiently.

Cloud - A cloud, or 'the cloud',  is a shared virtual space which many systems and computers use to access shared resources, processing, and information. The information can be accessed from anywhere, and means you're not tied to using one computer.
Content Managed Systems (CMS) - This is the software we use to create, manage, and modify the content on a website.

cPanel - cPanel is the brand name for a specific kind of control panel (also sometimes called a dashboard or console) used by a wide variety of hosting companies. It's where you manage and oversee your hosting account and website.
Dashboard / Console - The Dashboard is the main page of your website platform. Console is also a term used used in reference to the main page that accesses settings of your website.
Domain Name System (DNS) - A domain name is how we remember a site address. The Domain Name System (or DNS) matches domain names with their IP address.
eCommerce - An E-Commerce website is one that sells products or services online.
Footer - The Footer is the area at the bottom end of a website.
Header - The Header is the top section of your website that contains the site name, and a navigational menu.
Hosting & Hosting Company - A hosting company stores your website on their server, and you pay them for this service.
ISP - Your ISP is who you are paying to gain access to the internet. ISP stands for Internet Service Provider.
Links - External - These are links from within your website to someone else's website. These can also be other websites linking into your site.
Links - Internal - Internal links are jump points from one part of your website to another point also within your website.
Menu - These are used by your visitors to navigate around your website. These can be made up of Pages or Posts.
Pages versus Posts - Pages are generally the About Us, Contact Us, Legal Pages, etc., and also used as your top tier of your Posts. Posts can be information articles, product pages, reviews, recipes, blogs, etc.
Payment Gateway - Payment Gateways are secure add-ons to a site that accept customer payments via credit card.
Platform - A platform what is used to build a website. This can be WordPress, Wix, Shopify, SquareSpace, Weebly, or any of the website builders available.
Plugins - WordPress uses Plugins to add extra options (functionality) to your website.
Scripts - Scripts are a piece of code. They are used to connect applications such as Google Analytics to your site.
Search Engine - A Search Engine is a site that you use to search for information such as Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo.
Sidebar - Sidebars run vertically on either the right hand or left hand side of a website and provide extra information.
Theme / Layout - Themes set out the basic look and layout of your website.
Topography - This is the choice of fonts for headings and text of your site.

URL - Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This is the name of the website address seen at the top of your browser. This URL indicates an address located on the World Wide Web.
Widgets - These can be added to Sidebars and Footers. They are commonly sign up forms to a newsletter, an Ad, or links to other posts within your site.

Woo Commerce - A popular and recommended free eCommerce plugin for WordPress websites. By installing the Woo Commerce plugin, you can set up a store and shopping cart on your website for selling goods and services. 

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