What Are You Talking About? – Website Development & Hosting

Kevin Peterson
By: Kevin Peterson
Reading Time: 9 minutes
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A Guide to Marketing Terminology for Non-Marketers – Part 3: Website Development & Hosting

This is the third blog in a series on digital marketing terminology. Our goal as an agency is to speak authoritatively and execute effectively. We desire to guide our clients to success through the world of digital marketing while not losing them in a cloud of jargon. To that end, we are sharing a series of blogs to help familiarize business leaders of every stripe with the terminology they may encounter when engaging in marketing activities

Covered previously are terms related to Sales & Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. Here we outline some of the laymen’s terms related to Website Development & Hosting. We will continue our series talking about Digital Advertising then conclude with Graphic Design, Photography & Video.

Dennis Nedry made himself indispensable in the operations of John Hammond’s Jurassic Park and the tension between the two is well-documented. Before shuffling off to steal some dino DNA, and eventually get eaten by a prehistoric creature, Nedry, played by Newman Wayne Knight, was responsible for the technical operations of a park set to make untold amounts of money for Hammond.

If the classic film taught us anything, Steven Speilberg’s 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park taught us that you’d better have a basic understanding of the technical ins-and-outs of your business or you’ll risk having your customers spend the night in a tree as they are hunted by velociraptors and t-rexs.

Turning over your website project to an “expert” can be scary, especially when you aren’t completely confident that you understand what goes into making a website and how people actually access it. Here we will try to relieve some of those fears by sharing some basic definitions for terms you may encounter as you work to update your website.

HELPFUL HINT: Looking for a specific term? Use the find functionality on your browser – Cmd+F (Mac) or Ctrl+F (PC) – to quickly find the word or phrase you are looking for. We opted for contextual rather than alphabetical organization when sharing this information.

The planning, conceptualizing, and arranging of content online. Website design considers both visual aesthetics and functionality, and includes web pages, mobile apps, and user interfaces. A web designer works to create a user-friendly experience considering everything from colors, fonts, and graphics to user interface and flow.

Adaptive design refers to designing web pages of different sizes to ensure content displays correctly across different device types and sizes. Responsive design is different, and preferable, in that the website is coded to appear properly across different device sizes.

A basic layout of a webpage indicating the contents of the page. These are typically black and white and do not include any color, photos, styling, etc. The purpose of a wireframe is to ensure all the necessary elements of a webpage are accounted for and appropriately positioned before designing detailed mock ups.

Website mockups are static designs of web pages that include the features of the final design with none of the functionality. Placeholder imagery and text may be used on a mockup, but the purpose is to get approval of the look and feel of a website before moving into the more costly and time-consuming process of developing the website.

A visual representation of the webpages of a website and how they are organized and interconnected. Search engines utilize sitemap files on a website to crawl the website more efficiently.

A navigation menu is the list of links found along the top or side of a web page that help users navigate a website and understand what information is most important to consume. As a verb, navigation is the act of clicking through a website to find the desired information. 

UI refers to the point where a human interacts with a computer, website or application. Great care and study is taken to make a user’s experience simple and intuitive, often relying on commonly accepted conventions of interactive design. 

UX refers to the overall sentiment a user is left with after interacting with a website or application. Beyond the ease of use of the interface, UX is concerned with the user’s ability to find answers to their questions and leading them to the appropriate call-to-action for their unique situation.

Within website design, a CTA refers to a prompt for visitors to follow leading them toward the purchase of goods or services. A CTA could direct visitors to call, fill out a form, download a content offer, etc. CTAs can appear as simple text, graphics, buttons, etc.

The small image that appears next to the page title on a browser tab. Often favicons are some variation of an organization's logo offering an opportunity to enhance your brand recognition.

Frontend development is concerned with what a website visitor sees sometimes referred to as the graphical user interface (GUI). HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the primary tools in front-end development. A frontend developer is primarily responsible for implementing the website design into a live website.

Backend development is concerned with the data and infrastructure that power the website’s functionality. A backend developer is primarily responsible for elements such as databases, servers and applications. 

To the extent that frontend development relies upon backend development, a full stack developer will have knowledge of both disciplines. In essence, they have cross-functional knowledge of the full “stack” of technology utilized in website design and development.

Refers to the set of resources and tools for software developers to build and manage websites, web services, and web applications. Web development frameworks (WDF) offer efficiency and stability for website developers. 

A system or software used to create, organize, and manage digital content on a website. WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are well-known examples of CMSs.

The most popular CMS in the world, WordPress is open source and therefore has broad appeal to developers of every stripe with its vast library of frameworks, themes, page builders, and plugins.

Within WordPress, page builders are plugins that let you create, edit, and customize your website layout without writing any code. Some page builders limit your ability to integrate certain design and functionality while others offer greater flexibility.

The building block of the world wide web, HTML defines the meaning and structure of web content. Web browsers read HTML to interpret and display page content to website visitors.

The foundation of the world wide web, HTTP deals with the transfer of information between networked devices (ie, computers to web servers). 

The secure version of HTTP, HTTPS is critical in the current digital age where sensitive information such as bank accounts, emails, health insurance information, etc are growing increasingly more prevalent.

Simply put, a URL is the address of a page or resource found on the web. URLs can point to webpages, images, code, audio files, pdfs and more.

CSS is the code used to define styles for web pages including the design, layout, and variations in responsive design. Utilizing CSS is preferred as it minimizes the amount of HTML code a web browser must read inorder to display a webpage.

JavaScript is a dynamic programming language developers use to create interactive website elements. Things like displaying current social media feeds, interactive maps, or animations, are all accomplished with JavaScript.

Standing for Hypertext Preprocessor, PHP has broad application within web development. This open source platform is utilized by web developers for server-side programming.

The SQL in MySQL standards for Structured Query Language. MySQL is the most common language used to store and access databases. It’s essentially a digital filing cabinet used to organize and store all of your website’s data.

Cookies are small pieces of text sent to your browser by a website you visit. Cookies help inform websites about the user, enabling the website to personalize the user experience. For example, ecommerce websites use cookies to know what items users have placed in their shopping carts.

Essentially the information about the type and nature of a file. In web development, images and other types of files as well as pages themselves have meta data to inform databases and search engines about a website’s content.

The overriding design of your website. Themes take the content stored by your content management system and display it on a browser. 

A website may have multiple page templates as directed by the types of content to be displayed. Things like the presence and placement of navigation, body copy, photos, etc are governed by the page templates a designer and developer produce for a website theme.

Where a blog is deemed to be the standard type of post on a WordPress site, custom post types can be created to display various types of content such as videos, podcasts, photo galleries, etc. There is no limit to the number of custom post types that can be created.

Any piece of software that adds functionality to a website. WordPress is known for its vast library of plugins. Rather than developing custom code from scratch, developers will utilize plugins to achieve the desired functionality of a website.

Redirects are signals to search engines and browsers to take visitors from one URL to another. Redirects are often utilized when a new website or page is replacing an existing website or page. There are various types of redirects (ie, 301 redirects).

A browser will display a 404 error when the web server cannot find the page or resource at a specific URL.

Modular elements of a website that allow you to add content and features to your website. Widgets are used in the page building process.

A web page editor that displays the exact appearance of the final result as you build the page.

The practice of ensuring that your website is designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use and interact with it. Accessibility is achieved through a collaboration of design and development.

The process to remove unnecessary or duplicate data to increase page load speed without affecting how a web page is processed and displayed by a browser.

Refers to how long it takes for a web page to fully load and appear on screen when a user visits the page. Load time has become an increasingly important aspect of search engine optimization in recent years.

A copy of your website in a development environment not visible to search engines. A website in a staging environment is in the final review stage before being published live to the web.

A computer program used to enhance efficiency by giving website visitors a platform to ask questions and receive an immediate response. Chatbots simulate human interaction and attempt to address common issues and answer frequently asked questions before handing the interaction off to a live agent. Increasingly chatbots are relying on narrow artificial intelligence (AI) to power their chatbots.

A networked computer drive used to display website content through storing, processing and delivering web pages to users.

A service that converts domains (ie, google.com or themarketingsquad.com) into an IP address in order to display a website from a web server.

Standing for Internet Protocol Address, a number that represents a device on the internet essentially serving as the address of a server, device, network, etc. IP Addresses are provided by ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

Used in place of IP addresses, domains are essentially a string of letters, typically words, preceding an extension such as .com, .net, or .org to make navigating to a website easier. Often companies purchase a domain name that matches or closely aligns with their company name.

An entity that registers domain names globally and sells them to individuals and businesses. GoDaddy.com, Name.com and Google.domains are a few of the many registrars available to the public for purchasing domain names.

A DNS record that points an alias name to the real domain name. Typically CNAME records are typically used to map subdomains such as www.example.com to example.com

A record that maps a domain to the physical IP address of the server hosting a given domain.

A protocol used to enhance security across the internet by associating a certificate to a domain and IP Address to verify the legitimacy of a website's connection. Securing your domain with an SSL certificate is a must to be seen as a legitimate source of information to search engines.

A copy of a website at a given point in time stored on a server and available to replace a corrupted website or database after data loss.

File Transfer Protocol is a system used to transfer data between devices connected to the internet. Secure File Transfer Protocol is a file transfer protocol that allows you to securely transfer data between devices over the internet without the risk of attackers gaining access.

The amount of data that is transferred between a website and its users in a given period of time. The larger the web page, the higher the demand for bandwidth. Additionally, as the number of website visitors increases, the demand for bandwidth on a server will increase.

A temporary high-speed storage system used by web servers to store data frequently by users accessed to lower loading times.

The measure of the percentage of time a website has been accessible to users over a given period. The optimal goal, and expectation, is that website has an uptime of 99.9% or greater.

The Ultimate Dictionary of Marketing Terms You Should Know – HubSpot
The Ultimate All-in-One Marketing Glossary – Digital Marketing Institute
CloudFlare: Learning Center – CloudFlare
WordPress Glossary Terms for Beginners – wpbeginner

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