Decoding the World of Web Jargon

In the world of web design and development, there are a lot of acronyms and technical terms that get tossed around, but what do they all mean? We’ve put together a list of some of the most common bits of jargon to help make it a little bit clearer for those of us (myself included!) who aren’t so technical.


Content Management System

The CMS is the tool you use to make changes, manage content and perform updates on websites at the back end. A good content management system has a simple user interface to make it easy for you to edit content on your own website without the need for too much technical knowledge.


HyperText Markup Language

Quite simply, HTML is the language of the web. It is made up of different tags, all of which come together to create the basic structure of a website.


Cascading Style Sheets

After the basic HTML structure is in place, the CSS is what dictates the overall appearance of your website; layout, colours, fonts etc. The benefit of using CSS is that it reduces the need for repetitive styling; you may only need to edit a style sheet once to change multiple pages on a website – hence the word cascading!


Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP is a server-sided scripting language; basically it is the brains behind the main HTML structure of a website. It can be embedded into the HTML framework and enhances a web page. With it you can create things such as login areas, contact forms, galleries and so much more.

Back End

The back end of a website is the part that is hidden away from the view of your website visitors. It contains the CMS for handling the content on the site, the information structure and applications.


You may well have been asked by a web designer before to “clear your cache”. Cached files are files that are saved by your web browser from previous visits to a website, so that the next time you visit the page the information will load faster.

This can cause problems if a designer is making changes to your site, as when you try to view them you may actually be seeing an out of date version of the page – hence the need to clear the cached files!


Domain Name Service

The Domain Name Service is what converts the IP address of your website into the domain name you see in your web browser. So, once you have chosen the domain for your website, your web designer will provide the DNS servers with your IP address to link the two.

In return, when a user types your domain into their browser, the DNS servers translate that into your IP address to point in to your website. Simple! Maybe…


Secure Socket Layer

We’ve talked a lot about SSL recently; you can read our dedicated blog post on this here. SSL is a hot topic at the moment, as search engines have now begun marking any website with an SSL certificate as ‘Not Secure”, which can negatively affect your SEO. If a website has an SSL certificate, you’ll be able to tell by checking that the url starts with https://.

This means that the connection between the two web servers is secure, and you can input secure information such as payment details without the risk of a 3rd party being able to access it.

Meta Data

The meta data for a web page is the information contained in the page header that gives you the details about the page you are visiting. The title, page description etc. that you see in search results is contained within the meta data, which is itself defined by a meta tag.


A plug-in is a piece of 3rd party code that a web designer can use to enhance the functionality of a website beyond its basic template. So you might, for example, install a plugin on the blog page of your website that auto-posts your article to your social media accounts.

Or you might add an SEO plugin that will optimise all of your pages. If you can think of it, there’s probably a plugin that can do it!


Uniform Resource Locator

The URL is your website’s address; it specifies exactly where on the Internet your site can be found. As we said when we were talking SSL, a full URL includes, however you no longer need to type all of this into your web browser to navigate to a site!


User Interface

UI design is essentially focussed on making a website easy for a customer to navigate their way through; making the journey from them arriving on your site to accessing the information/product etc. they came for as simple and as smooth as possible. This might mean things such as a clear menu, logical organisation of products, inclusion of a search tool etc.


User Experience

UX design is different to UI design in that it focuses on ensuring that a user’s experience of a website is satisfactory. Did the customer come away from your site feeling happy, having completed their task with no frustrations, or were they confused and lost trying to navigate your site? UX is all about how the customer feels as they come away from your site. It’s about optimising their experience.

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