Glossary of web design terms

Don’t be confused by geek speak!

While I do my best to try to keep the technical terms to a minimum when I’m dealing with clients, sometimes its hard to avoid it. So if you’re confused by my (or other web designers’) geek speak, then this list of common web design and development terminology will hopefully help you wrap your head around what we mean.

Brochure website – is essentially a digital equivalent of a printed brochure promoting a business, product or service. A brochure website tends to be small and simple, visually engaging, containing a mix of good quality images and all the vital information about the business. These types of websites generally don’t need to be updated very often, and so have a long “shelf life”.

Browser – is what you are viewing this page in right now! Primarily used to access websites, the most common browsers used are Chrome, FireFox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge.

Content Management System (CMS) – is an online administration panel for your website, which you can log into to manage (edit, add and delete) your website’s content. It is sometimes referred to as a website’s “backend”. It is the easy to use interface between your website’s “frontend” (that part of the website that your visitors see), and all the code that makes your website work.

Domain name – a domain name is essentially the address of your website on the Internet (eg In order to claim exclusive use of a domain name, it must be registered in your (or your organisation’s or business’s) name. Registration is for a minimum period of 1 year, and it must be renewed after the end of that period in order for you to keep using it.

Domain name extensions or Top Level Domains (TLDs) – refers to the part of a domain name which comes after the “dot”. There are generic TLDs like .com, .net, .org, country specific TLDs like .au, .nz, .uk , and geographic TLDs which focus on geographical areas rather countries, like .sydney, .melbourne, .asia. There are also special reserved or restricted TLDs like .test, .local and .example. Some have special requirements which must be met before you can register a name with that TLD – this includes .au domain names. See details.

Ecommerce – refers to commercial transactions being conducted online. An ecommerce website is most commonly an online store, with a catalog of products that can be purchased via a secure checkout, and with an online payment system.

Google Analytics – is a website analytic tool offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. It provides an in-depth look at your website visitors and your website’s performance – including how your visitors found your website, where in the world they are located, and what pages on your site they are viewing. It is available free of charge, and I can set it up for you and make the most important data available right in your website’s administration panel (CMS). 

Responsive design – a website design that adjusts to the size of the screen it is being viewed on, whether that is on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, is said to be “responsive”. It is important to allow for optimal viewing of a website regardless of what type of device a user is accessing it on.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – techniques which improve the visibility and ranking of a website on search engines like Google.

SSL – stands for Secure Socket Layer. This layer acts as a security blanket between a website and browser. It protects any activity which takes place on that website from being intercepted by an outside party. You can tell that a web page is secure by the web address, which will start with https:// rather than http://, and there will be a small padlock icon in the browser’s address bar, next to the website address. 

SSL certificate –  in order for a website to be protected by SSL, it needs a valid SSL certificate to be installed on the web server on which it is hosted. Certificates are normally issued for a 12 month period, and need to be renewed at the end of that period to remain valid. Having an SSL certificate installed on your website can also give your website an edge in Google’s search results over competitors’ whose sites don’t have one installed.

Stock photos/images – are images made available by the photographer/creator for licensing for commercial use (such as on websites, in print materials etc). They are an easy way to give your website a professional look when you don’t have high quality images of your own to use and can’t afford to hire a professional photographer. Its important to understand that you can’t just use images from any source on your website, due to possible copyright restrictions.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator, a.k.a. web address.  A URL is simply the address of a web page, found in the address bar of your browser. The URL of this web page is

Web Hosting – website hosting provides space on a web server for your website, so that it can be accessed online 24/7.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.