Have you ever come across a website building term while reading something and thought to yourself, “What in the world does that mean!?” 

Well when you’re new to creating a website, you’ll run into a lot of jargon you don’t understand. 

But good news! I’ve created a complete ‘Glossary of Website Building Terms’ to help you through your journey of creating a WordPress website. You’ll find everything organized by categories and explained in simple language that even non-techies can understand. 

Armed with this list, you’ll have a much easier time building your WordPress website. I’ve focused on the most important terms. But I’ve also included some extra techie terms coders use at the bottom, just so you know what they are.

Glossary of Website Building Terms:

Website –  A website is a collection of pages on the world wide web (www) that share a single domain name (or URL). Websites serve a particular purpose and can be one page or many pages.

WordPress – WordPress is a free, open-source content management system. It’s the most flexible, most popular way to create your blog or website on the internet.  I recommend choosing WordPress.org over WordPress.com.

WordPress Dashboard – The WordPress Dashboard is the first screen you see when you log into the administration area of your website. It’s the place where you can get an at-a-glance overview of what’s happening with your site.

Title and Tagline – The site title and tagline tell your visitors what your website is about. The title is usually the name of your site or business, and the tagline is a short phrase that sums up the purpose of your site.

Backup – A website backup is a copy of all your website’s important components and data. Backing up should be a part of your regular website maintenance.

Updates – An update means there is a new version of WordPress, plug-ins, or themes available. Keep these updates current and install new versions when you receive an update notification.  See the step by step guide on how to do an update on your WordPress site here

Menu – A navigation menu is a way to sort content so viewers have an easy time finding the information they need on your site. The most common menus are a top navigation menu, a sidebar menu, and a footer menu.

Screen Options – The screen options menu allows you to display, hide, and customize different sections on the page’s admin screen. Find the button in the top right corner of your WP page.

 

Links:

URL – A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is an address for information on the Internet. If you hear URL, think “address”, “web address” or “location.”  (Example: www.websitecreationworkshop.com is the URL for my business.)

Permalinks and Slugs – Permalinks, also known as page slugs, are the page URLs for your site.  (Example: www.websitecreationworkshop.com/blog is the permalink for my blog page)

Link – A link is a URL connection to something else. In WordPress, you can link an image or text so that when a visitor clicks on it, it takes them to another page or site.

Website Address –  A website address is the same as the URL for the site. 

Anchor Link – An anchor link is a link on a page that brings you to a specific spot on that same page (or to a spot on another page)

 

Pages and Formatting:

Latin Text – Web designers use Latin text (“lorem ipsum”) as a placeholder copy for website building if they don’t have their actual content ready to insert. Placeholder text doesn’t have to just be Latin. Add some Meat and Veggie text to your Website!

Web Page –  A web page (often referred to as just a ‘page’) is a document that is displayed in a web browser. Websites are usually composed of several web pages, each containing specific content and images. 

WordPress Page – A WordPress ‘page’ is a web page with content that doesn’t change frequently. It’s sometimes referred to as a ‘static’ page. In this article, I explain the difference between a page and a post

Parent/Child Pages – Child pages are subpages under a Parent Page. They relate to the topic of the Parent Page but are more specific. For example, if you have a Parent Page called ‘Services’, you may have Child Pages underneath for the various services you offer.

Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are a string of words, located at the top of the page content, showing you which page you are currently looking at in relation to its parent pages. Read more about ‘What are WordPress Breadcrumbs?’ in this article.

‘H’ tags (H1, H2, H3, etc) – ‘H’ tags, or HTML header tags, are used to differentiate the headings (H1) and the sub-headings (H2-H6) of a webpage from the rest of the content. 

Gutenberg/ Block Editor – Gutenberg, also known as the Block Editor, is a page builder available for WordPress 5.0+. It adds content blocks and other page builder functionality to your WordPress site. Read here to learn more about ‘What is Gutenberg and Why I Don’t Use It.’

Classic Editor – The Classic Editor is a WordPress plugin that enables you to edit pages and use all of the functionality of the previous (‘classic’) WordPress editor. I walk you through ‘How to Install the Classic Editor Plugin’ here.

 

Blogging

Post – A ‘Post’ is the blog part of your website. Posts are used for articles, events, news, and other up to date information. Posts have an author, dates, categories, and tags.  ‘Post’ is a noun and a verb in blogging. 

Category – Categories are a way to sort and group your posts into different sections.  Categories should be broad topics and will apply to different posts. For example, a recipe website may have a category: Desserts.

Tag – Tags are another way to sort and group your posts. They cover a smaller scope than Categories, and a particular post may have many tags. Tags are completely optional. This same recipe site may have tags: Cookies, Chocolate, Pies, etc.

Excerpt – An excerpt is a 2-3 sentence summary of the article that is written in the Excerpt field of the ‘Post Edit’ screen. 

‘More Tag’ – ‘More Tags’ allow you to show a summary of your article or post on your homepage with a ‘read more’ link. 

Author Box – A box at the bottom of your blog posts that gives brief biographical information about the author of that post. Read more about ‘What is an Author Box?’ here. 

Evergreen – “Evergreen” is content that is continuously relevant, no matter when it was published. Check out my article ‘What is Evergreen Content’?

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) – a web feed technology that distributes updated headlines and content from your favorite designated websites to a central location for you to view. This is built into WordPress but not everyone uses it. Read more about RSS in this article ‘RSS in Plain English.’

 

Post Status

Draft Post – ‘Draft’ status is a post that has been worked on and saved, but not published to your site.

Pending Review Post – A post that is in ‘Pending Review’ status is waiting for someone else to approve and publish.  

Private Post – A ‘Private’ post cannot be viewed by the public. They can only be viewed by authorized, logged-in users of the website. 

Scheduled Post – A ‘Scheduled’ post is completed and scheduled to be published at a set date and time.

Published Post – A ‘Published’ post is available to the public to view on your website.

Sticky Post – A ‘Sticky’ post is a setting that allows a particular post to stay at the top of the front page of posts. Read my article ‘What is a Sticky Post?’

 

Images

Download –  Downloading is the process of getting files and images from a web server to your computer. 

Upload – Uploading is the process of adding files and images onto a web server (usually from your computer).  To add an image to your web page or blog post, you must upload it. 

‘Splash’ Image – A splash image (also known as an overlay image) is used when you embed a video on your page and you want to specify a particular image to show before you push play. 

Background Image – The background image is the image that appears behind your website content area. It looks like a border around your content area.

Header Image –  The header image appears at the top of your website on every page and post (unless you change those default settings).  It’s usually the first thing visitors see and convey the entire look and feel of the website or brand. 

Media Library – The Media Library displays all the image files that have been uploaded for use on the website.  For more information on image formats read my article on “PEG, PNG, or GIF: What are the differences?”

Featured Image – The featured image is a single image that represents the post as a whole and is displayed at the top of the post. For more information, read my article ‘What is the featured image in WordPress?’

Site Icon – A site icon, also known as a favicon, is a small square image that is a unique icon to your site. The site icon appears as an image in your visitor’s browser tab, in widgets like Blogs I Follow, and as a bookmark or home screen app icon when saved to a browser or phone.

Image Gallery – An image gallery displays multiple images in a grid layout with columns and rows. Galleries allow you to show more photos in less space within a professional-looking appearance. Read more in my article ‘What is an Image Gallery?’

Slider – A slider is a slideshow added to your web page, usually implemented with a plugin or as part of your theme.  See this article on the Difference between an Image Gallery and an Image Slider

Margin – Margin determines the distance between a specific content element and the other content elements on your page. It’s your spacing between elements.

Padding – Padding is the distance between your content and the border of the element.  It’s your spacing within an element.

Crop –  When you crop an image, you remove or cut unwanted outer areas of the image off.

Resize –  To resize an image means that the appearance of the image itself remains the same, but you are enlarging or reducing the size of the image to fit your needs. 

Compress – When an image is compressed, the size in bytes of the image file is reduced, without degrading the quality of the image. This allows more images to be stored in a given amount of memory space. 

Thumbnail Image – A thumbnail is a postage stamp size image of your regular size image.

Gravatar – A ‘Gravatar’ is your little avatar (photo) that shows up whenever you comment on your WordPress websites or any other WordPress Website.For more information on Gravatars, read my article ‘What is a Gravatar Picture?’

 

Themes

Theme – Your theme selection determines the layout and color scheme and design of your site. With WordPress, your theme design is separate from your content.  Read this article on the 6 things to ask when picking a WordPress theme

Template – A Template is a subset of the Theme. Templates apply to Pages and usually have to do with the layout of the Sidebars, but can have other functions such as a ‘contact us’ template.

Premium Theme – a paid theme (usually $50-$100) that offers better stability and more flexibility than free themes. 

Theme Documentation – The theme/plug-in documentation is an instruction manual detailing all the features of that theme/plug-in and how to use it. 

Theme Customizer – The theme customizer (Appearance —> Customize) allows you to adjust theme settings and view a live preview of the changes you make to your theme. 

‘Design Draft’ – Design draft setting allows you to save your work without having to publish it immediately. You can work on a new post or page as much as you want, save it in draft, and then publish when ready. 

Child Theme – A “Child” theme is a subset of a theme. It’s where you would do the theme customizations for a theme so you can leave the main theme alone. Not all theme companies use “Child” themes.

Mobile Responsive – A mobile responsive website is one that changes based on the needs of the users and the mobile device they are viewing the site on. Read my tips here for checking ‘Is Your Site Mobile Responsive?’

 

Plugins and Widgets

Plugin – Plugins are optional tools that extend the functionality of WordPress. They are software add-ons to “turbocharge” your WordPress website. You don’t have to have them for WordPress to work, but they add to the appearance and/or functionality of your WordPress website. For more information, read this article ‘What’s a WordPress Plugin?’

Shortcode Plugin – Sometimes plugins use a ‘shortcode’. Shortcodes have brackets ‘[‘ and ‘]’ to let WordPress know to insert the plugin into the page/post.

Premium Plugin – Premium plugins are plug-ins you must buy. They provide extra features, priority support from the developers, extensive documentation, and regular updates.

Widget – Widgets are specific pieces of content that you can add, arrange, and remove from the different widget areas of your site. Some default WordPress widgets are categories, calendar, search, recent posts, etc.  For example, when you drag the recent posts widget to the sidebar widget area, then that area will show a list of recent posts.

Sidebar Widget – Any widget-ready area on your site that displays information that is not part of the main content. It can be a vertical column on the right or left side or horizontal rectangular sections above or below the content area, footer, and/or header. 

Page Builder – Page Builder is an optional WordPress plugin that enables you to edit pages on your WordPress site using a drag-and-drop editor. For more information, read this article about ‘What is a Page Builder?

 

Domain Name and Hosting

Domain Name – The specific web address (or URL) where internet users can find your website. To learn more about the difference between Domain Name and Web Hosting, read this article.

Web Hosting – Web hosting is a service that provides the technology needed for businesses and individuals to post their web pages and web sites on the internet. To learn more about the difference between Domain Name and Web Hosting, read this article.

DNS – DNS stands for Domain Name System. Computers can only read numbers, they cannot read domain names (like www.websitecreationworkshop.com). The DNS converts the human-readable domain name into a computer-readable Internet Protocol (IP) address. (like 173.194.39.78)

SSL – SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private. If you are running a site that requires users to either submit a payment or login, you must use an SSL certificate. If your website is not using an SSL certificate, browsers will mark it as Not Secure.  To understand more about what SSL is read this: ‘Is Google Marking Your Sites as Not Secure’

 

Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Contact Form – The contact form on a website allows the visitor to interact with the individual or business whose website they are viewing by filling out certain pieces of information (usually name, email address, comments) and then submitting. Read more about contact forms in this article ‘Contact Forms vs Opt-In Boxes.’

Email Address – A unique address an individual or business creates in which to send and receive mail over the internet. 

Email Marketing – Email marketing is a type of direct marketing businesses use to send mass emails to groups of people to attract new customers or encourage repeat business from current customers.

Email Marketing System – An email marketing software provides you with a reliable system to automate your marketing tasks, track your stats, send effective regular emails, and build stronger relationships with your visitors.

Opt-in Box – An opt-in box is a place on your website where the visitor opts-in with their name and email address to receive something in return. Your opt-in “gift” could be a variety of things such as a free: e-newsletter (“ezine”) subscription, downloadable report, webinar, video/audio recording, etc. Read more about opt-in boxes in this article ‘Contact Forms vs Opt-In Boxes.’

PDF – PDF stands for portable document format and is a file format that provides an electronic image of a document that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted.

SEO – SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the process of designing your web pages so they rank in a high position in the search results of search engines. The goal of SEO is to generate more traffic and visibility for a website.

Landing Page – A landing page is a web page created for a marketing or advertising campaign. Site visitors “land” on the page after having clicked on an outside ad, and the landing page displays a Call-To-Action (CTA). Read more about ‘What is a Landing Page?’ in this article. 

 

Browser Settings and Shortcuts

Browser – A browser is a program on your computer that allows you to visit websites. Check out the video in this article ‘What is a Browser?’

Tabbed Browsing – Tab browsing allows you to open many pages in the same browser.  You can easily click from one page to another using the tabs at the top. Learn ‘How to Do Tabbed Browsing’ here

Browser Bookmark – A browser bookmark is a saved shortcut that directs your browser to a specific webpage, allowing you to access it quickly and easily next time. Bookmarks store the title, URL, and favicon of the corresponding page.

Password Manager – Password management software is used to securely store and manage passwords for a user’s various online accounts. Using a password manager is one of my top tips for remembering your passwords without going crazy!

Incognito Browser Window – An incognito browser window allows you to browse the internet without having any of your browsing history stored on your computer. 

Browser Extension – Browser extensions are small software programs that customize the browsing experience for the user based on individual needs or preferences.  Read more about what is a Browser Extension here

Browser Cache – Browser caching is when your computer stores a copy of a website that you visit so your browser can load it later. Read here about ‘How to Clear your Browser Cache’.

Clipboard –  Your computer clipboard, or pasteboard, is a special location in your computer’s memory where data that has been cut or copied can be temporarily stored until it is pasted into a new location. 

Keyboard Shortcut – A keyboard shortcut is a key or combination of keys that provide quick access to a particular function within a computer program. For example, the keyboard shortcut to copy text is Ctrl+C.

Cookies – Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer or device to help the website provide a better user experience and retain user preferences. Read this short article on ‘What is a Cookie?’

 

Other Tech Terms

HTML – HTML is the markup language used to build web pages so that your browser can read it.  It allows you to put images, videos, text, links, and other content elements together into a website

CSS – CSS is the markup language used to decorate your HTML web pages. CSS code dictates the visual look and style of your website –  the fonts, colors, spacing, page layout, animation, etc. Read more about ‘What is CSS?’ in this article.

JavaScript – JavaScript is a programming language used to create complex, dynamic features on a website.

FTP – FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a process used to transfer files across the internet from one computer to another.

PHP – PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a programming and scripting language used to develop websites or web applications. WordPress is written using PHP.

CDN – CDN stands for ‘Content Delivery Network’. CDN duplicates your website content and places a copy in servers located all over the world. The shortened geographic distance accelerates site speed and minimizes traffic problems.  For more details, read my article What is a “Content Delivery Network”

 

Conclusion 

I love teaching my students how to build WordPress websites. By creating your own website, you can better communicate to the world who you are and how you service your clients.

One of the reasons people get intimidated at the thought of building a website is all the technical jargon. Many seem to think you need to have a high level of technical knowledge to create and maintain a website. That’s simply not true. 

Now, you can no longer use that excuse! Bookmark or print this post and you’ll have a hand reference tool to help you understand all the tech terms you may encounter.

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