Common Website Terms Everyone Should Know

by | Jan 24, 2020 | Online Marketing

Learning these will help you understand your designer better. Which is important in this day and age… Don’t get overwhelmed by the tech lingo! Here’s some of the more common website terms everyone should know if you run any kind of online business.

Common website terms everyone should know

I’m guilty of this too; explaining something to a client using terminology that makes sense to me, but not to them. Although you can’t (and shouldn’t waste your time trying to) learn everything, familiarizing yourself with a few common website terms can make it easier to work with your designer or web team.


It stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is really just a fancy way of saying “try to up your site’s chances of being first on Google.”. There’s a lot of complicated behind the scenes work that goes into that simple concept, though, and a lot of variables at play. It’s not a magic thing, but optimizing for SEO can definitely help your site get traffic.

What is SEO?


Short for Content Management System. In web design terms it usually means the system that handles your website, since most sites aren’t straight HTML and CSS anymore. The most common one (and one I use) is WordPress, but there are plenty out there like Joomla, Drupal, etc.


Speaking of using tech lingo, I just did it there again. What’s HTML and CSS mean? Well, HTML stands for “Hypertext Markup Language” but that’s not commonly used at all. Basically it’s the primary coding language websites used to use, and still rely on today. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet, and is another coding language. CSS is a streamlined way to add style to your website. You set things like fonts and colours there. Even basic websites use HTML and CSS together in their design.

Coding language

It’s the term we give the type of code we’re using. There’s several common languages that are used to make websites like HTML, HTML5, CSS, PHP, Javascript, etc. Each one serves a different function and is written differently. HTML, for example, can give me a table on the page, but PHP can connect to a database and pull a product inventory. Again, these coding languages work together to make websites function the way they do.

What is HTML?


Where your website lives on the internet, basically. Websites are hosted on a server, which is basically just a computer that’s always on. It is more sophisticated than that, but you get the idea. The files for your website are saved onto that server, which is connected to the internet. When other people are visit your site, the files are downloaded from the server onto their device temporarily so they can see the page, then deleted once they leave.


Unfortunately cookies are not a delicious treat when it comes to websites. You’ve probably seen a few “this site uses cookies” pop ups by now, but what does it actually mean? In website terms, a cookie is a piece of information that gets saved onto your computer.

Why does that need a warning? Well, the website can access that data and use it to personalize your experience. Have you ever visited one website then seen ads for it later? That’s because the website with the ad read your cookie from the other site.


See the little green lock next to my web address? That’s there thanks to my SSL, or security certificate. Basically what it does is encrypts the data that passes through my server so that if something were to intercept it, they couldn’t tell what it was. It’s not really necessary for most sites but if you transmit sensitive data (like passwords) you don’t want those getting out. Securing sites also helps with SEO.


With every explanation we find another word to explain! At least this one’s easy. Have you ever done one of those puzzles where you have to figure out the code and replace it with letters to find a secret word or phrase? It’s basically the same idea.

All the information is scrambled up into something you couldn’t decode easily. But, there is a decoding key that the recipient uses to decode the information and read it. It’s a bit more complicated than that with SSL (there’s two different keys…) but the gist is, your data is scrambled while it travels and gets unscrambled once it’s at its destination so someone can’t intercept it and steal your information.

What does SSL mean?


The bane of every designer’s existence, caching has ruined every tech person’s day at least once. Cache is French for “hide”, but it can also mean “place where things are hidden (stored)”. When you visit a website, it saves some aspects of that website onto your local computer to the “cache”. Next time you visit that website it will load faster because it doesn’t need to download everything. Cool, right?

Well, sometimes websites update. If a website updates and your computer loads the old files, you might see something different than someone who’s just gone to a site the first time. So, if you can’t see a change reflected, clearing your cache might just be the answer.

There’s a lot more common website terms that would be helpful for people to know, but I think that’s enough technical talk for one day. Hopefully these help you understand the online world a little better.

Is there a term you’re not familiar with or something that doesn’t make sense? Email me and I’d be happy to help!