Website Terminology

Here are the web terminology that comes up most often

A URL is a pointer or address to a web page. The URL to this page is:

HTTP, and HTTPS (as well as FTP) are connection protocols. These are types of connection between a web browser and a website. HTTP and HTTPS are nearly identical, except HTTPS encrypts the information going back and forth so only the website and web browser know what it is. The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure.

Domain Name:
Your domain name uniquely identifies your website on the internet. It’s also your licence to use that name, no one else can use it. Most of the time it’s the name of your website. In my case my domain name is Another domain name I own is A domain name is always at the start of a URL. There is an annual registration fee to keep your domain name, usually between around $20.

Domain Registrar:
A domain registrar is a company where you buy a domain name from. It can be the same company you buy web hosting from, but it does not have to be.

Scam Alert:
Watch out for fake domain name renewals notices. This is a very common scam. The scam letter looks like an invoice but it is not from your Domain Registrar. Don’t pay it.

WHOIS is a public record about a domain name registration. The record covers: who owns the name, when they bought it, when it expires, and more. There are many whois search tools on the internet. I use when I want to review a whois record.

The Cloud:
Services deployed on the internet. It could be file storage (like your computer hard drive, but on the internet), or computer processing power, or many other services.

Web Hosting:
This is space on the internet that holds your website files. I like to says “It’s your parking spot on the internet“. The fee for web hosting depends on the amount of space and other features you need to run the website.

I recommend avoiding any web hosting company owned by Endurance International Group (EIG) renamed Newfold Digital in 2021:

Web Hosting Control Panel:
This is where you login to make changes to your web hosting. “cPanel” is very popular, and one of the easiest to use. GoDaddy and BlueHost’s build their own control panel and their terrible.

Content Management System (CMS):
CMS is the software application you use to add, edit, and remove content and features from your website. The most popular CMS are cloud based (on the internet), for example: Joomla and WordPress, but there are many others.

Keep Your CMS Safe
Always keep your CSM software up to date to avoid leaving security holes unpatched.

Check out my CMS Maintenance Plan

Free Websites:
There are many free services on the internet like Wix, Blogger, and that let you start a small website for free. There services combination web hosting, and a CMS. They lure you in with the free offer. If the site grows and you want to expand (in page count on Wix, or more features on all of them) they start charging you, in many cases they cost more then purchasing you own web hosting using a free CMS like WordPress.

Web Content:
Your content is your photos, and text that makes up your web pages, but not the “the look” of your site. On a modern website the content is maintained separately from the look and page layout.

Website Template or Theme:
This is “the look” of your site. The look can and should be different depending on the size of the device the reader is using. (e.g. smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer). The look changes from device to device to make it easier for the user to read and get around. Keeping your content separate from the look allows the system to be very flexibility. You can find tons of free themes on the internet. Or, You can buy a premium themes which is usually better quality and faster. Or you can have a designer/developer build you a custom theme. Themes with built in “theme builders” are easier to customize, but generally slower then themes without.

Website Menu:
A menu is a feature used to navigate your website, from page to page. A Main Menu is usually near the top of every page. A Menu Bar is a usually horizontal menu.

Responsive Design:
Responsive design is the ability of a website to re-position, re-sizes, and show or hide content and layout features based on the screen size. Responsive design optimizes the look and functionality to work well on the available space. This allows one website, template, and page to work no matter the size of the device.

CMS “Page”:
In CMS terms a “Page” is content that is usually organized manually. Usually pages are attached to your main menu. When you write a new page, you have to connect it to the menu or some other page.

CMS “Post”:
In CMS terms “Posts” look like pages but are generally organized by time, category, and keywords (also know as tags). New posts are expected to come out over time. When you add a new post the system automatically knows where to put them. Posts systematically group together and connect to each other using keywords/tags and category. This interconnectedness is part of what helps boosts their SEO value.

CMS Widgets, Modules:
Think of a widget like a tiny page. The most common placement ( i.e. location) for widgets is in a sidebar (a narrow column on the side of your page) or in your website footer. Widgets can be smart (like: show me the last 5 posts) or static (like: here is my contact information)

CMS Plugin or Extension:
These are apps that get installed in your CMS to give it more functionality. These can help maintain your site, add new features to it, or increase it’s performance.

Web Browser:
This is the application your reader uses to see and interact with websites. Examples include: Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and so on. Your website should look about the same from browser to browser, but there is no guarantee.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
SEO are improvements made to a website, page content, and else where to help the site rank higher in search results. Each improvement can add a small increase to the rank. Think of your sites Search Engine Rank is a race between your SEO improvements vs your competitions SEO improvements.