If you’re talking to a web developer/designer, and feeling overwhelmed by the terms and acronyms being tossed your way, it’s my hope that this list may help you.
Some of these definitions are original, and some are copied in whole or in part from wikipedia.
CSS — “Cascading style sheets.” A method for building web pages which separates the actual content from the way it is styled, making future maintenance much easier, in addition to other benefits. Can also be used to refer to the part of the code that is in CSS.
back end / front end — The “back end” is the software system or computer code that provides structure and function to the site. The back end is not visible to the user. The front end (or interface) is the on-screen system that the user interacts with to achieve a specific goal. For example, when you buy books online, the webpages where you put in your name, address, credit card info, etc. are the front end/interface.
blog — Short for “web log.” As a noun, “blog” is a website where entries are made on a regular basis, and usually displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
captcha (or CAPTCHA) — This is a contrived acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” It is a test to ensure that the responder is a human and not a computer. The most familiar type of CAPTCHA is one which displays distorted letters or digits on the screen, and requires the user to type those same characters into an input box.
content — This refers to the stuff that fills up your website. While technically it may refer to words, pictures, documents, video, etc., it is also sometimes used to refer just to the text/words.
content management system, or CMS — A way of building webpages so that frequent updates can be made quickly and easily by people with no knowledge of html; all that’s required is minimal training in the user-friendly interface. Also, the software used for building such a site.
DNS — “Domain Name System.” Think of it as the behind-the-scenes phone book for the internet: it connects human-friendly URL’s (e.g., http://www.janasnyder.com) into computer-friendly addresses (e.g., 321.123.456.78) that networking equipment needs to find your website.
DNS record — The information that ties your particular URL to your specific IP address. This is kept on record somewhere on the internet. The company you pay for this service is your “DNS registrar.”
This is tied to both your domain registration and your hosting location, so if one of those changes, this will need to be updated as well.
domain — As commonly used, the human-readable “address” for a given website or webpage: “www.pagenamehere.com”. Synonymous with the term “URL.”
domain registration — The internet equivalent of copyrighting a company name. You purchase the legal right to use that particular domain name, and prevent anyone else from using it. The company you pay for this service is your “Domain registrar.”
This is tied to your DNS record, so if one changes, the other needs to as well.
Flash — The brand name of one brand of software used to create web content with motion, such as scrolling pictures, pictures or words that fade in and out, etc. “Flash pages” means webpages that have one or more areas created in Flash. For a user to see anything created in Flash, they must have Flash Reader.
front end — See “back end / front end.”
hosting — The computer where your website lives and is accessed by users on the web.
Your host is tied to your DNS record, so if you change hosts, you’ll need to update your DNS record, too.
In most cases, when you buy hosting from a big-name hosting company, your website is stored redundantly on multiple computers, so that if one computer goes down your website will not. Our web host of choice: LiquidWeb. You can purchase hosting from us that will be a shared part of our servers there. Saves you lots of money; makes a little for us. (They charge $50/month and up; we charge less than $15/month.)
interface — See “back end / front end.”
IP (internet protocol) address — Your website’s location on the internet, which is a string of numbers. eg: 123.456.89.010
site map — A list and/or diagram showing all the pages in a website and, to some extent, their relation to each other.
URL — “Uniform Resource Locator” or “Universal Resource Locator.” The human-readable “address” for a given website or webpage: “www.pagenamehere.com”.
WordPress — A content management system that many websites are based on, providing an excellent structure for creating small, simple websites, as well as large complex ones. Learn lots more here.