For those of you who are in the business of talking tech, you’re probably familiar with certain web terms like SEO, Full Stack Developer, Adwords, HTML, FTP, Above the Fold, CSS, etc. I’ve put together a list of the most common terms used when talking about everything tech from computer programming to open-source platforms to blogging. I’ve tried to make them as relatable as possible so you can explain these terms to your cyberspace-challenged family at the next Thanksgiving dinner and sound super tech savvy. Terms, acronyms, phrases, and slang are all in the mix, alphabetically ordered for your convenience. If you need more clarification, fill free to reach out!
Above the Fold – this refers to anything that can be seen on a webpage without having to scroll down. It stems from the newspapers where anything in the top fold was considered prime real estate for content and ads.
Adwords – this is the most commonly used ad service powered by Google. It allows account holders to bid on certain keywords relevant to their website and create ads which appear on SERPs. It places ad copy usually at the top or to the right of the search engine result page (SERP). If you look closely at the first two or three results on your next search, you’ll see a little yellow box that says “ad” directly to the left of the link, that is if you use Google. Bing has its own ad service, surprisingly called Bing Ads.
Adsense – this is a little different than Adwords, but connects with it. Adsense allows bloggers and other webmasters to display ads on their sites which can generate income through a CPM (Cost per impression, aka PPM) and CPC (Cost per click, aka PPC). An account holder can get paid through Adsense by taking the ads from Adwords that companies create and pay for and displaying it on their websites. I know this is a little confusing, but all you need to know is Adwords costs money, Adsense can make you money.
Analytics – services that generate statistics about a website’s traffic, patterns, and has the ability to measure conversions. These tools basically track activity on a website.
API – Application Programming Interface – it’s a way for one technology to interact with another technology. Like a Twitter API let’s developers incorporate Twitter data into a website or application, same thing with a YouTube API. This maintains a level of cohesion in the building process.
Back End – refers to everything on the “back-end” of a website, basically what goes on behind the curtain. Back end functionality are the inner workings of a website or application. Also known as server-side, back end is the stuff you don’t see when you look at the webpage. (EX: Have you ever filled out a contact form online? Where does that information go and how does it get there? That’s back end!!) Back end may also refer to a person, he’s a back end developer.
Bandwidth – is a resource in use. If a website has millions of users viewing the site, it will be using a lot of bandwidth. Bandwidth can also be used to describe someone’s availability – a developer just finished their project and has some “bandwidth” to help out on different projects.
Beta – we always hear this product is currently in beta – that means it’s the first “live” phase of a website or a platform. The product is ready for use but the kinks are still being worked out and it’ll improve.
Black-Hat – used to refer to malicious hacking or aggressive SEO strategies.
Blog – if you don’t know what this is, you’ve got problems. But just so you know, blogs started as sort of an online journal and now blogs have turned into complex inbound marketing tools. The internet is like an ocean and companies use pieces of bait called content (blogs) to reel people in with.
Bounce Rate – used in analytics to represent the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from that site after viewing only one page. This is when visitors come to a website and then “bounce” off never going to another page than the one they landed on – hence bounce rate – a low bounce rate is usually good, a high bounce rate is usually bad – usually!!
Browser – this one’s easy. A browser is an application we use to surf the web. (EX: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer (do people still use that, ha!))
Caching – this is when your computer stores a copy of a webpage you previously looked at so it can deliver that page to you faster the next time you view it.
CDN – Content Delivery Network – CDN’s are normally for websites that have lots and lots of images, videos, and rich media. CDN’s will store cached versions of the website on different servers at different locations around the world. This enables the site to be served up quicker when trying to view it. Depending on your location, the server closest to you will show you the website.
CMS – Content Management System – software that makes the management of a website easier for those who aren’t developers. A CMS can have a number of different users, usually called admins, that access the website through a login portal. The user interface opens into a dashboard where admins can publish, edit, and update the website’s content. Examples of CMS’s are WordPress and Drupal, both open source!
Cookie – stored in your web browser, a cookie comes from a website you visited. When you revisit the same website, the cookie will send data back to the server to notify the website of your previous activity.
CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization – the practice of creating great experiences for a website user with the goal of converting them to paying customers.
CSS – Cascading Style Sheets – this is a stylesheet for sprucing up your website pages and making things look pretty. With a .css extension and linked from an HTML (seen below) page, it is the decoration of a website.
Deep Web – a part of the internet that is not indexed by regular search engines. The internet is an ocean as in 90% of its contents are below the surface. For every page a regular search engine indexes, there are many more that are not being indexed. See TOR – the software for trolling the deep web.
DNS – Domain Name System – a unique user-friendly name that identifies a website, like any domain.com and essentially converts the number of the IP address.
DOM – Document Object Model – let me preface this by saying this will be hard to understand! There are objects in an HTML page called elements, things like <title> and <header>, the DOM is basically a representation of the document (often times in the form of a tree) and determines how objects can be manipulated. It can be considered kind of a theory, and it’s technically an interface. Told you it would be hard to understand. Google it – I dare ya!
Domain Authority – honestly, no one really knows what this is. It’s a secretive algorithm that measures how a website will perform in search engine rankings. Moz has the info you need on Domain Authority.
Drupal – free, open source content management system used to build websites and online communities leveraging modules for functionality.
Element – the components in HTML, they represent content and are wrapped in tags EX: <p>Paragraph tag</p>, <h1>Heading with the most weight</h1>, <h6>heading with the least weight</h6>, <img src=”this shows an image” />
Favicon – these are the tiny little images and icons that are displayed in the tab of a window next to the title of the actually webpage.
FTP – File Transfer Protocol – a way for files from one computer (usually a personal computer) to be transferred to another computer (usually a server) to be viewed on the internet.
Framework – in development, a framework helps by having a defined collection of tools to pull from for creating websites and web apps. Common activities (e.g. – fixed layouts, responsive markup) are put together and available for use instead of building something from scratch.
Front End – development that involves everything a user sees on a website, sometimes called client-side. Also refers to a person, she’s a front-end developer.
Full Stack Developer – a developer who knows both front-end and back-end development, these developers are extremely skilled and demand a high salary!
GIF – a format file type used most times for animated images and graphics.
Git – a version control system which enables developers to work on projects simultaneously from different computers and store revisions of development history. It’s really good for holding developers accountable!
Hack – there’s two meanings for this. One – is the traditional meaning where your computer gets hacked by a hacker for profit, gain, or notoriety. The Second – is when files are customized by a programmer, but not coded properly. You’ll often hear, “the core files are so hacked we’d have to start from scratch.” – this could mean that the files were hacked by a hacker, but it probably means that some developer who had access to those files changed the code to get the website or program to run the way it needed to run, but they didn’t use best practices.
High-level – this is a business term which means very basic, an overview, not specific or detailed. Your boss comes to you and says, “I’d like a high-level overview of your department’s business objectives for Q4 this year, just something simple.”
HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language – one of the first languages in website building, it leverages components known as elements wrapped in tags (surrounded by angle brackets shown here – <title>My Website</title>) to render certain types of text and images in a file with the extension .html. When rendered on a webpage, the above example would only show My Website. It is the skeleton of pretty much any website and contains different types of content.
HTTP(S) – Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (Secure) – it’s basically a set of rules for transferring information over the internet between browsers and servers. HTTPS is the secure transfer over an encrypted connection.
IP Address – Internet Protocol Address – this is the number associated with a web address or computer.
Keyword – any term, phrase, or word typed into a search query in a search engine that shows results.
KPI– Key Performance Indicators – companies use KPI’s to gauge and compare performance, they usually come in the form of some type of data-driven metric like social media reach, profits, or analytics.
Landing Page – a webpage built within a website for the purpose of being “landed” on, usually from email marketing or social media. A landing page is built in hopes of converting users into customers.
Link Bait – content on a website that other sites link to because they find it interesting, unique, funny, and want to link to it.
Link Building – getting other websites to link to your website in hopes of improving your own ranking in a search engine.
Markup – another way to say code, HTML is a markup language. See also syntax.
Meta – often heard in line with the word data, metadata is literally data about data. It helps search engines read parts of your website to determine what type of data it is.
Microsite – this is an individual website with its own domain/subdomain and as its own entity, but often times associated with another larger website. A microsite is usually used to showcase some type of event or new product.
Mockup – a design that shows a user what a website will look like without having to build any of the functionality.
MVP – Minimum Viable Product – for a website, the MVP has just those core features that allow the site to be deployed live. It’s the absolute bare minimum a website can be and still be used.
NAP Consistency – Name, Address, Phone Number – a company’s NAP should be the same across all different local listings and other listings. This will help with local SEO.
OOP – Object Oriented Programming – is a fundamental of computer programming that centers around objects and the methods or functions that control them.
OS – Operating System – are you using a Mac, Windows, or Linux OS? The iPhone’s operating system is iOS, go figure!
Panda – this was an update to Google’s algorithm that aimed at lowering the rank of low-quality sites aka “thin sites”, and return higher quality sites at the top of the SERP.
Penguin – this was another update to the Google algorithm that aimed at decreasing search engine rankings for those sites that were still practicing Black-Hat SEO tactics.
PHP – PHP Hypertext Preprocessor – what?!? yes that first P stands for PHP, it makes no sense, I guess HP was taken! This is a programming language that is normally used with a database like MySQL to build dynamic websites and web applications. Over 80% of the web is written in PHP.
Pogo-sticking – users who search for a keyword and click on the first result they see. Then they don’t find what they want and hit the back button to the results page and click on the second result they see. Then they don’t find what they want again, and this can go on and on, hence the pogo-stick.
Post – an article in a blog.
QA – Quality Assurance – the act of making sure something works properly. In development, massive regression testing, unit testing, browser testing, and cross-platform testing is usually done.
Query – any question, whether that’s searching in a search box or querying a database to get back info from that database, a query is simply a question.
RFP – Request for Proposal – this is a business term, but it’s when companies contact a web agency in hopes of finding a solution to their web challenge. If a company wants to build a website or do a redesign, they’ll put together an RFP (which basically describes what they’re using now and what they’d like to change about it – high level stuff) and send it to a web firm to get a proposal.
Rich Media – this can be different things, a few examples are images, videos, and animations that usually involve some type of user interaction. Or it can be an image, video, or interactive advertisement.
River – on a blog, it’s the main section of blog posts, not the sidebar.
RSS – Really Simple Syndication, actually it’s Rich Site Summary – RSS feeds allow a webmaster to syndicate someone’s content from a blog or news source to their own site and link back to that blog or news source, the feed will automatically update with any new posts.
Scope Creep – adding incrementally to a project plan or statement of work (SOW), and realizing that the project plan has gotten way too big! The creep refers to adding small things (features, functionality, etc.) to a project and then realizing that the scope (what the project entails) is way over budget or the timeline’s too short.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization – for lack of sounding obvious, this means optimizing a website for the search engine. It’s an organic (meaning free) process of affecting a website’s visibility in SERPs. The strategy for this is extensive and constantly changing, you can check out some of my previous posts on SEO and Search Engines to get a basic look.
SEM – Search Engine Marketing – increasing the visibility of your website through paid advertisements.
SERP – Search Engine Results Page – it’s the page that has all the results on it after you enter a search query and hit enter.
Server – simply put, a server is a computer, but it’s a big one that houses a bunch of different websites.
Sitemap – this is a list of all pages within a website that can be crawled by spiders or by users, normally showing the taxonomy of a website.
Spamdexing – slang term for the use of Black-Hat SEO strategies like invisible text (hiding text between the markup and rendering it invisible), keyword stuffing (stuffing a webpage full of the same keyword), and doorway pages (landing on a page and then suddenly being redirected to another page) for the purposes of high visibility in search engine rankings. This is a very bad thing to do and it’s like committing SEO suicide.
Spider – a program designed to crawl (read) web pages.
SOW – statement of work – a document that tells the client what you plan on doing for their project.
Syntax – properly structured code.
Table – a slang term for putting something on hold. EX: “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, so why don’t we table this month’s content strategy and circle back at a later date.” I hate this term!!
Taxonomy – this is the procedure of organizing and categorizing the different web pages on a website. A website’s hierarchy.
TOR – The Onion Router – this is a free software for online anonymity. It let’s users surf the web much like Google or Bing does, but with no threat of placing cookies on your computer or tracking your movements. TOR is often used to surf the Deep Web.
UI/UX – User Interface / User Experience – UI is what we use when we’re doing some type of action online (e.g. – viewing a website, purchasing an online product). UX is the feeling we get from doing those actions.
URL – Uniform Resource Locater – URL’s are a website’s unique address so that it can be found online.
Usability – criteria that assesses how easy a user interface is to use including learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction. The Nielsen Norman Group has a great post on this topic – Usability 101
User-friendly – this just means that something is easy for us humans to understand! EX: beingajile.com/blog is much easier for us to understand than beingajile.com/wp/13286-aXeS3.3428.php
Virus – much like a cold virus or the flu, a computer virus is a malicious program that likes to harm and reproduce in other hosts (computers).
Webmaster – any person who develops or controls a website.
Widget – a small piece of functionality in WordPress usually found in the sidebar or footer areas.
Wireframe – this is kind of like a blueprint for a website, often done with boxes, it represents a visual framework.
WordPress – an open source content management system designed for developers and non-developers. It has a vast community of developers/non-developers who regularly contribute to making it the best blogging platform out there. It utilizes plugins which are pieces of functionality that help the end user accomplish something (e.g. – embed a twitter feed). This is such an immense platform that the codex has got all the documentation you need to get started.
XML – Extensible Markup Language – defines a set of rules for encoding documents in both human-readable and machine-readable format, it’s also designed to carry and store data.
I couldn’t find anything for Y and Z, but I’m sure this will be a constantly updated list. I literally keep a black book of web terms right next to my computer so that when I hear someone say a term I’m not familiar with, I write it down. Please feel free to reach out if you have any input or want to know something more about a certain term. Hope this was helpful.