Web Lexicon

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Jargon Bustin' Web Glossary

Like any other professional industry, the web industry has it's own collection of impenetrable jargon. The vocabulary of the web has grown very quickly since CERN put the first website online in 1991, and the acronyms show no sign of stopping. For someone coming in cold, all this jargon can seem very daunting. However, if you're looking to get a website built it is useful to learn some of it. It decreases the chance of unethical web agencies gobbledegooking you and ripping you off with features you don't understand.

Hopefully this web lexicon will clear things up a bit. The lexicon is designed for clients, potential clients and people just starting out in the web industry. We link here when we need to mention complex concepts in emails or website copy. Each topic provides an introductory overview and links to more in-depth information. Programmers looking for coding tutorials will not get much value out of it.

We regularly update the lexicon - this beast will never be truly complete. If the word you want to know isn't in here, contact us and let us know and we'll add it in. If you spot a mistake or jusy want to compliment us, we encourage you to leave a comment at the relevant entry. Finally, we've listed some other web glossaries at the bottom of the page.

Web Design Techniques

In web design, accessibility is a measure of how easy a website is to use by people with disabilities. Most disabilities affect web browsing experience to some extent. The disabilities which can be most assuaged with good web design are blindness …

Read about Accessibility

A website’s navigation is the aggregate system of all the HTML links which are used to navigate between pages. Good navigation is essential to provide a good user experience to visitors and search engine optimisation. It can be organised into menus …

Read about Navigation

Open source software is software made freely available for anyone to view, edit and contribute source code. We are big fans of open source software here at Phoenix and use it over proprietary software whenever feasible. There are a few reasons for this …

Read about Open Source

Responsive web design is the art of optimising a website for usage on a variety of devices. Any device with a web browser can be used to visit your website. People usually surf the web with desktop PCs, tablets and mobile phones making these the most essential devices to optimise for. …

Read about Responsive Web Design

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the art of increasing the visibility of your website on search engine results pages. The point of this is to increase traffic to your website from people using search engines, and therefore increase sales …

Read about Search Engine Optimisation

Scripting is the magical fairy dust that makes websites interactive. In the early days of the internet, websites were static HTML pages. The only interactivity was in the Hypertext links that took you to another static page. Soon after …

Read about Web Scripting

Web Technologies

AJAX is a technology that allows a website user to interact with the server without reloading the web page. This allows us to turn a web page from a static piece of content into a dynamic web application. It is possible to make a web page interactive with JavaScript alone …

Read about AJAX

Apache Server is a software package which provides computers with the functionality to serve web pages. It is the most popular server software on the web, with Apache powering just over half of all websites. …

Read about Apache Web Server

In essence, an API or Application Programming Interface is a set of rules, set out in a program that allows other entities to talk to it. ‘Talking’ might involve requesting data or sending information upstream to be recorded, or invoking a function of a program from outside the program. …

Read about API

ASP is a server side scripting framework for making dynamic web pages. For all intents and purposes it is a programming language, though the actual underlying language is C#, VBScript or similar. Microsoft created ASP and still owns it. …

Read about ASP.NET

Web caching is a group of technologies that help websites load faster by temporarily storing part or all of the data that makes up a web page. Caching cuts down on the complex and time consuming operations necessary to prepare and download web page files onto your computer by storing the results of these processes. …

Read about Caching

CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is a computer language used to tell web browsers what elements should look like. CSS is most commonly used to describe HTML elements, thus setting the aesthetics for web pages. A user’s web browser interprets the CSS and renders the web page elements according to the CSS rules for each element. …

Read about CSS

FTP or the File Transfer Protocol is a set of rules used by programs to transfer files from one computer to another on the internet. In terms of the web, FTP is as old as the hills. It was first developed in the 1970s for military computers and universities …

Read about FTP

FTPS is an extension of File Transfer Protocol which uses SSL/TLS technology to encrypt data sent through the FTP connection. TLS has largely succeeded SSL, but SSL is still the more popular term used in discussion. FTPS should be used instead of FTP whenever possible. …

Read about FTPS

Git is a version control program used for managing files in software development across development teams. Git stores project files in repositories. The repository contains the files themselves, and the history of all changes to the files. …

Read about Git

HTML is a computer language which forms the structure of all the content of the web. It stands for HyperText Markup Language. Content is wrapped in tags to tell your web browser what form the content is supposed to take. …

Read about HTML

HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a protocol that governs how messages sent between two computers across the internet should be formatted and transmitted. HTTP messages are sent using TCP/IP. If you imagine HTTP as the writing in a letter …

Read about HTTP

HTTPS is basically normal HTTP with the connection encrypted by a technology called Transport Layer Security. The ‘S’ on the end of the acronym stands for ‘Secure’ or ‘over TLS’. In an ordinary HTTP connection, the data you send and receive from a server passes through several computers on its way to a destination. …

Read about HTTPS

JavaScript often abbreviated to JS is a client side scripting language. To be more accurate, JavaScript is the client side scripting language. If you visit a web page with any sort of interactivity, JavaScript is probably involved. …

Read about JavaScript

jQuery is a JavaScript library of functions, designed to make JavaScript much easier to use. It has useful functions for manipulating HTML, animation, AJAX handling and much more. jQuery wraps around the base JavaScript code and abstracts away many of the foibles and pitfalls that make JavaScript difficult to work with. …

Read about jQuery

JavaScript Object Notation is a format for transporting data. Typically, it is used to communicate data between software. Scenarios include an API sending data to a program which has requested it, or a client side script

Read about JSON

A LAMP stack is a computer with the following software installed:

This combination of software allows a computer to serve up dynamic websites. …

Read about LAMP

A markup language divides a text document into chunks and describes what those chunks are supposed to be. This meaning can be read and interpreted by software programs, making the text far more useful. Ideally the language will be set out in a way which is easy for humans to understand as well. …

Read about Markup Language

MySQL is a relational database management system (DBMS). It is the most popular DBMS in use today. Its popularity is due to several factors including:

  • MySQL is open source software, freely available and anyone can contribute to it.

Read about MySQL

PHP is a server side scripting language used to create dynamic, interactive functionality on web pages. When PHP was first created, the acronym meant Personal Home Page. In 1998 this was retroactively changed to Hypertext PreProcessor. …

Read about PHP

Sass is probably something you had as a teenager, but in web terms, SASS is a preprocessor for CSS which makes CSS easier to code and manage for web developers. The acronym stands for Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets. …

Read about SASS

SFTP or SSH File Transfer Protocol, is a protocol based upon SSH which is used to securely transfer files between computers across the internet. SFTP is used for the same role as the much older FTP

Read about SFTP

Structured Query Language is a programming language specially designed for managing relational databases. All the popular relational database management systems use it to operate their databases. SQL has been around since the 1970s; positively ancient by web standards. …

Read about SQL

Secure Shell is a network protocol for accessing a remote computer securely. The computer doing the connecting is known as the client, and the computer being connected to is called the host. From the client, you can execute commands on the host computer remotely …

Read about SSH

Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security are technologies designed to encrypt data sent across a connection. In the modern web TLS is slowly replacing SSL but ‘SSL’ is still the more commonly used term. In any case, TLS is simply an improved implementation of SSL with a name change to avoid legal issues with Netscape who originally created SSL. …

Read about SSL/TLS

This friendly little acronym stands for Internet Protocol and Transmission Control Protocol. TCP/IP is the big daddy of protocols, the foundation of the internet on which all other protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS and FTP are based. …

Read about TCP/IP

Version control is a methodology for managing projects which involves recording the history of changes of each file of the project. These changes are stored and can be viewed or recalled as desired. Version Control Software To manage a project with version control …

Read about Version Control

XML or eXtensible Markup Language is a markup language used to markup documents and transport data. Unlike other markup languages its markup tags are not predefined, hence the eXtensible part of the acronym. This allows XML to be used as a basis to develop new markup languages. …

Read about XML

WordPress

Akismet is a WordPress plugin which provides anti-spam functionality. We use Akismet in just about every website we build. In fact, Akismet is packaged up with every basic install of WordPress. The name Akismet derives from a combination of Automattic

Read about Akismet

Automattic is a company that is strongly associated with a variety of open source software, particularly WordPress. While WordPress is not owned by Automattic (or anybody else), many of the core developers of WordPress work at Automattic …

Read about Automattic

Jetpack is a WordPress plugin, which adds a grab bag of extra features to a website. These features are almost universally useful and we install Jetpack onto almost every WordPress website we build. Some of the features we utilise include the following (although there are many more):

  • Sharing buttons for social media sites like Facebook,

Read about Jetpack

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. While there are a few different eCommerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce is by far the most popular. In fact, WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform full stop …

Read about WooCommerce

Wordfence is a security plugin for WordPress and the most popular plugin of its type. We use it in almost all websites we build. It provides super awesome security functionality which includes:

  • A web application firewall which blocks malicious traffic.

Read about Wordfence

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) which provides a software platform to build websites on. It is the most popular content management system in the world, used as the foundation for about 28.8% of all websites on the internet.  …

Read about WordPress

A plugin is a collection of code which adds to or changes the functionality of your website. The WordPress plugin system allows this code to be added without making any changes to the WordPress core, hence the term ‘plugin’ rather than something like ‘modification’. …

Read about WordPress Plugin

In WordPress, themes are collections of code files which set out the layout and aesthetics of your website. Within the WordPress interface, themes can be quickly swapped in and out, instantly changing the design of your website. This process would take hours with a vanilla website. …

Read about WordPress Theme

Yoast SEO is a search engine optimisation (SEO) plugin for WordPress. It is the most popular plugin of its type. It does not provide better SEO with the flick of a switch …

Read about Yoast SEO

Website Features

Blog is a combination of the words web and log. Blogs are a place on your website where you write regular articles. The articles can be about subjects you have expertise in, news about your business, general musings and so on. …

Read about Blog

An online booking system allows customers to make bookings for your business services online with little to no intervention required by the business manager. Online booking systems can be used to allow website visitors to book appointments, equipment, tables at a restaurant …

Read about Booking System

A chart is simply a graphical representation of data, most commonly in graph form.  Charts on websites are basically the same, but we can add interactivity to them. Charts are great for tracking information on web administration interfaces such as billing or web-traffic tracking summaries. …

Read about Charts

In the context of websites, donations are a specific type of eCommerce with its own subset of technical needs. Some non-profits take donations as a one-off transaction, or regularly as part of a membership or subscription. Regular donations are a little more technically complex …

Read about Donations

An online newsletter is a great channel to market your business. It is widely regarded as one of the most effective online marketing tactics. One of the best aspects of email marketing is its cheap implementation, so it won’t break the bank if your campaign bombs. …

Read about Emailing List/Newsletter Signup

If you are trying to create a bit of buzz, you can show upcoming events on your website. The most common way to showcase these events is with a visual calendar which mimics the print calendar on your fridge. The usual format is to have a dedicated page with a full visual monthly calendar. …

Read about Events Calendar

Favicons are tiny images which web browsers place next to the title in the tab for a web page. Modern browsers also use favicons in the bookmarking section, the links bar and the cards in the most visited page. …

Read about Favicon

A forum is a piece of software designed to facilitate discussion online. Visitors join the forum to become members and can then post and reply to messages readable by other forum members. Conversations, called threads, are usually visible to visitors but are sometimes hidden from outsiders. …

Read about Forum

Maps are top down views of physical locations. When maps were first invented they were drawn on paper, but today you are much more likely to view a map on a screen. These maps are likely to have features which users can interact with. …

Read about Interactive Maps

Listings are directories of items organised in some way. Listings can be the primary purpose of a website or a feature of a larger website. Some examples of listings websites include:

  • Business directories
  • Classifieds
  • Career Sites
  • Restaurant listings
  • Real estate websites
Just about anything you can organise into a list can be made into a listings website. …

Read about Listings

Live chat is functionality on a website that allows real time conversations to take place between visitors and representatives of the website. Live chat is great for pre-sale questions and providing technical support to users. This communication can take place in other mediums …

Read about Live Chat

Many websites find value in restricting some of their content to members of the website. When visitors navigate to a restricted page the content is not loaded and the visitor is prompted to sign into the website or register. Visitors create a profile with a user name and password …

Read about Members Only Content

At some point, your business may find itself needing to be understood by people who speak different languages. Maybe your business has offices in multiple countries or maybe you ship products all over the world. For whatever reason, you need to make your website multi-lingual. …

Read about Multilingual Website

In a literal sense, an online tour is a series of navigations between web pages with extra text, images and/or video which aren’t normally a part of the page added. The purpose of the extra content is to familiarise users to the workings of the interface of your website or web application. …

Read about Online Tour

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. RSS allow site visitors to subscribe to content on a website, receiving a notification when content is added. The information is sent in a standardised XML format which RSS feed reader programs can interpret. …

Read about RSS News Feed

Site search functionality allows visitors to search for your website content from within your website. The website will have a search bar, usually placed unobtrusively on every page in a location like the header or sidebar. Visitors can enter text into the search bar and start the search. …

Read about Site Search

Slideshows are websites elements which transition between discrete sections of visual information, in the same area, in an organised and compact manner. Transitions take place on a timer ow with user interaction, transitioning through slides until returning to the first slide and starting again. …

Read about Slideshow

Whenever you visit a website, a server transmits data to your computer and your computer replies. This data is relatively easy to intercept because it travels through several computers to get to its final destination. By default, this data is sent as ‘plain text’ …

Read about SSL/TLS certificate

An online poll gives visitors to your website the ability to vote on an issue of your choice. The poll could be either a frivolous distraction, the entire purpose of your website or something in between. Surveys also gather user opinions …

Read about Surveys/Polls

A virtual tour is an online tour of a real location. Their purpose is to provide the viewer a more immersive experience than mere images can provide. Locations which make good candidates for a virtual tour include:

  • Your business premises.

Read about Virtual Tour

Many websites make money by showing advertisements for other companies on the screen alongside their content. For some websites, this is the only way to monetize the content creator’s work because the market has made it impossible to charge for the content itself. …

Read about Web Advertising

eCommerce

In eCommerce, the cart is a virtual container where data about products a customer has selected to buy are stored. The cart retains the data until purchase is complete at the online checkout. From the customer’s point of view …

Read about Cart

The checkout is the final web page before the actual monetary transaction takes place on an eCommerce website. At the checkout, the customer will enter the following information:

  • Billing and shipping addresses if the product is physical.

Read about Checkout

The conversion rate is the percentage of people who visit your eCommerce website and complete a purchase. Obviously, you should optimise your website to get this number as high as possible. There are several techniques for increasing conversion rate. A few examples include:

  • Reducing barriers to complete a purchase by having a one page checkout.

Read about Conversion Rate

eCommerce refers to any scenario where financial transactions take place over the internet. eCommerce began from virtually nothing in the 90s to a juggernaut today, and its growth shows no signs of stopping. In Australia alone, $20.6 billion was spent online in the previous year as of August 2016. …

Read about eCommerce

An internet merchant account is a bank account that merchants use to accept payments from credit cards across the internet. They are a service provided by banks. If you are running an eCommerce store and want to accept credit card payments through a payment gateway …

Read about Internet Merchant Account

A payment gateway is an online service that authorises credit card transactions across the internet. If you’re running an eCommerce website, and you want to accept credit cards, you’ll need an account with a payment gateway. It is essentially the link between your website and the bank. …

Read about Payment Gateway

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a standard your business must meet if it processes credit card details. This includes online credit card transactions processed through an eCommerce website. The standard was put in place by the credit card companies to reduce credit card fraud. …

Read about PCI DSS

A third-party payment processor (TPP) is a company which processes credit card transactions over the internet. They are used to process transactions on eCommerce websites. A third-party payment processor fulfils the same function as a payment gateway but has some key differences. …

Read about Third Party Payment Processor

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. While there are a few different eCommerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce is by far the most popular. In fact, WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform full stop …

Read about WooCommerce

Web Infrastructure

A content delivery network is a linked network of servers which can do some, or all of the work of providing files to visitors of your website. Most good CDN providers have servers located across the world. CDNs can just provide static files like images …

Read about CDN

A content management system is a software package that allows people without coding knowledge to create content for a website. It does this by providing an online interface for writing content, separated from the task of developing the website’s layout and aesthetics. …

Read about CMS

A database is a repository in which data is stored. Databases can exist in spreadsheets, filing systems, bits of paper or anywhere information can be recorded. Our interest is online databases stored on a computer. Online databases are accessible on the internet and interacted with by software. …

Read about Database

A DNS name server is a server on the internet that computer programs use to lookup domain names, and convert them to IP addresses. This information is most commonly looked up automatically by web browsers and email programs. …

Read about DNS Name Server

Information about a domain is stored in DNS records, also sometimes known as zone files. The DNS records are stored on DNS name servers. For each domain, there are at least two authoritative DNS name servers …

Read about DNS Records

Domain names are human-friendly names for locations on the internet, particularly servers which serve websites and email. Without domain names, these locations would be identified by their unique IP address which are hard for a human to remember more than one or two of. …

Read about Domain Name

A domain name registrar is a company which registers and manages domain names. When you need a domain name for your business, these are the companies you buy it from. When you buy a domain you do not technically own it and are actually buying a temporary exclusive license to use it. …

Read about Domain Name Registrar

The domain name system or DNS, is a system for translating domain names like phoenixwebdev.com.au (which make sense to a human), into IP addresses like 223.130.25.4 (which make sense to computers). A common metaphor is that the DNS is like a phonebook for the internet. …

Read about Domain Name System

GitHub is a website which uses Git software to host project repositories online. It is the largest source code host in the world by a large margin, hosting over 38 million projects at time of writing. It is strongly associated with Git itself and a major reason for Git’s popularity. …

Read about Github

A search engine is an online software system which web surfers use to search for content on the internet. It most commonly describes the search infrastructure provided by Google, Bing and Yahoo. Search engines are one of the most important components of the modern internet. …

Read about Search Engine

A server is a computer that receives a request from another computer across the internet and then fulfils that request. There are many different types of server. For example:

  • your emails require a mail server to act as a digital postman.

Read about Server

URL is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator. A URL is the full address you use to make a request over the internet. The most common request is requesting a web page from a server when visiting a website in your browser. …

Read about URL

A web browser is a software program which you use to browse the internet. You are using a web browser right now, to view this page. Users follow a basic process every time they use a web browser which is:

  1. Using the web browser interface,

Read about Web Browser

A web host is a business which provides online disk space and access for websites. The website is placed on a server, a computer with the functionality to serve websites to visitors. The term web host is sometimes used to refer to the server itself but we separate them in this lexicon. …

Read about Web Host
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