Before you begin a website design project with a professional web design service, learn the basic vocabulary of websites and web design work. A working understanding of the lingo can help you communicate more effectively with your service provider, designer and colleagues. Here are common terms related to web design:
Alt text (alternative text): This text appears when a user hovers over an image on a website with the mouse or in place of a graphic element when images are disabled.
Bandwidth: The amount of data that can be downloaded from a website during a certain period of time, such as a month or day. Web hosting companies usually set a bandwidth limit and charge extra if a site exceeds it, much like a smartphone’s monthly data limit.
Banner ad: A rectangular graphic that appears on the right-hand side of a web page. This digital advertisement is hotlinked to an advertiser’s website.
Blog (weblog): An online journal featuring any subject that’s updated on a regular basis with written entries, pictures or other types of content. Readers can often respond to blog content with comments or share posts on social media sites. Businesses use blogs to reach customers, partners, employees and other company stakeholders.
Browser: Also called a web browser; a program used to find and view websites. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari are popular browsers.
Click-through: The user action of clicking on a link posted in an online ad or placed within web content for the purpose of following it to another webpage or frame within a webpage.
Conversion rate: The rate at which visitors convert from viewing a website or online ad to taking a specific desired action, such as buying a product, filling out a form or signing up to receive a company’s email marketing messages.
Cookie(s): A small piece of information left by a website on a visitor’s computer. Typically used to identify a user in order to customize content and track the person’s online habits over time.
Domain name: The name of a website, such as a company name, that’s part of the address a user can type into a browser to find the site. A domain name includes an extension such as .com or .net and can also be part of an email address. For a fee, you can register your business’ domain name so that no one else can use it.
Download: An action related to copying data, usually a file, from one computer (or server) to another.
E-commerce site: A website that enables commercial transactions, such as the buying and selling of products over the Internet.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A standard method used to download and upload files online.
Flash: A popular technology used to add animation, video and various interactive elements to web pages. Not all types of computer systems accommodate Flash features.
Floating ad: An ad that appears on a main browser window and moves across a webpage’s normal content.
Geo-targeting: The ability to target potential customers with online ads based on a user’s geographic location. Geo-targeting can be helpful for small businesses to run focused, cost-effective ad campaigns.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): The primary computer language used to design and build web pages.
Hit: The retrieval of any item, such as a page or graphic, from a web server. If a user visits a webpage with four graphics, that counts as five hits. Hits are no longer considered an ideal way to measure a site’s traffic.
Hyperlink: A piece of text or a graphic on a website, email or electronic document that a user can click to go to another web page or document.
IP Address (Internet Protocol Address): The unique series of numbers that identifies a website’s location. A domain name corresponds to a numeric IP address.
Inbound link: A connection to a certain website that drives traffic from another website.
Interstitial ad: An ad page that appears before the user-requested page is displayed; also known as a splash page or transition ad.
Keyword: A term or phrase that users type into a search engine to find information online.
Landing page: The page a user sees after clicking on an ad or link; this page typically prompts the user to sign up for a service or buy something. It can also provide general information that a user may be seeking.
Meta tag: Information about a website that does not affect how pages or certain elements appear to users. Meta tags include the title of an element, descriptions and keywords that may influence search results.
Outbound link: A connection to another site that appears on a web page and drives users to additional information or resources.
Page rank: The location of a website or page in a list of search results generated by a search engine such as Google or Bing. Complicated algorithms determine rankings based on an a site’s keywords, reputation and popularity.
Page view: A user metric that refers to each time a webpage is displayed to a visitor.
Popup ad: An ad that appears suddenly in a separate browser window on top of a user’s current window; popup ads are considered intrusive by many users.
Portal: A website that acts as an online “gateway” to other websites or services, such as email, personalized news, directories and entertainment. Yahoo! is an example of a portal.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication): A method of distributing frequently updated web content to users. Users can subscribe to RSS feeds and read feeds through “RSS reader” software.
SEM (search engine marketing): The practice of using search engines to promote a business. SEM can be used as an umbrella term for both SEO and paid advertising that shows up in search engine results.
SEO (search engine optimization): Strategies used to improve a website’s ranking in search engine results for specific keywords and phrases.
SERP (search engine results page): The list of webpages that’s displayed when someone tries to find specific content online using a search engine such as Google.
Search engine: A site used to find information or certain types of content on the web by typing in keywords. Google is the most popular search engine.
Site map (or sitemap): A special page on a website that lists all of the pages within the site and includes hyperlinks to each one in order to help users and search engines find pages on the website.
Spam: Unsolicited ads, usually in the form of email, blog comments and forum postings.
URL: A website address that users can type into a browser to find a site.
Upload: To transmit data from a local computer to a server, host system or network.