Website Terminology Have You Confused? Let’s Go Over Some Common Definitions.

Let’s face it, the web can be a confusing place for newcomers. There are so many new terms to learn it can feel like you are trying to learn a foreign language; in fact, that’s not all that far from the truth! I don’t expect any of you to read these straight through, but look down the list and see if there is something unfamiliar to you. Hopefully the definitions will help you to better understand the terminology used on the web and, of course, use that understanding to get your business running online quickly and smoothly.

Browser: This is what you use to surf web pages online. Many people still use Internet Explorer, but Firefox and Safari are some of the other popular choices.

Content Management System (CMS): This is just a fancy way of saying that you can easily update your website via a front-end web interface. WordPress is a popular example of a CMS.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets are often used to control the look of a website. A developer (or brave novice) instructs the web browser to show certain elements in certain ways. For example, one might have a rule to make all heading tags a size 16 font.

Domain: This is what people will type to find your website – think,,, etc….  I often put this in terms of real estate when explaining this to people. If this were real estate, your domain name would be your street address. It is how you tell people to find your website online. Without this domain naming system we would all be forced to remember each computer’s IP Address.

IP Address: The numerical address of your website, e.g.

FTP: This stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a method used to transfer files from your computer to your web host. Although sometimes your CMS might allow you to upload some files directly through its administrative console. WordPress allows you to do this.

HTML: Hyper-Text Markup Language. This is the language used to create web pages. Your web browser reads this code and turns it into what you see as you surf the net.

Subdomain: A subdomain is a domain name which has another domain name as it’s parent; using as an example, the word mail is the subdomain and Google is the “parent” domain.

Web Host: Your web host is who you pay to serve your site to the web audience. Going back to the real estate example, this is your plot of land. Your web host is where you will upload your website files, or host your site, whether WordPress, Drupal, HTML, PHP, ColdFusion, or something else.

WYSIWYG: Another fancy acronym. This one stands for What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG). This is how many of the CMS vendors allow people to update HTML without actually knowing how to code the HTML language.

About Joshua Belliveau

Josh is the President and Founder of Bell Web Works. He has actively worked on developing and enhancing websites since 1997. He has helped customers in a variety of industries: State and Federal Government, Healthcare, Sports, Construction, Real Estate, Photography, and Non-Profits, to name a few. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), along with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. After achieving his MBA degree Josh was inducted into Appalachian State University’s Cratis D. Williams Society as well as the International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma for his academic achievements in the study of business. Josh also serves as a member of the Executive Board for the North Carolina Association for Institutional Research. He also has worked for several years within a Higher Education setting serving as a Business Intelligence Technical Lead. He consults with, and aids, small businesses with their internet marketing ventures through his company, Bell Web Works. You may also reach him via Google+.

Speak Your Mind