One of the things I love about the web is how it changes and grows over time. It’s also one of the things that make it complex and hard to understand. While it can be confusing, and there are a lot of moving parts, there are also some constants. As a business owner and web designer, I value empowering my customers with the right terminology to understand their web services more fully. I like to compare a website to a physical space—think about your home address. The domain is your mailing address—you could have a PO Box or a mailbox at your physical location. Either way, it points to you. The hosting is the physical space that your home takes up—this would include the acreage and the square footage of your house. Security would be a security system, an added setup to protect your home, aside from your doors, windows, and locks. Since it’s all digital and not able to be seen in a physical capacity, it seems abstract. But when you break it down (and compare it to something tangible), it’s actually that simple. Your platform or CMS is like your design-build company or architect. The content featured is like the couch, coffee table, paintings, and other interior design elements—I think you get the point. Each page is a room in your home—serving a different function. The list goes on and on …
I created this list below as a resource for anyone hoping to understand their web services more fully.
Domain/URL: The domain name or URL is the actual address that is typed into a browser to locate your website. It’s actually pointed to an IP address but it is used to essentially brand your site by creating a name that memorable/recognizable versus sending someone to a bunch of numbers.
DNS: DNS or Domain Name System is a hierarchical naming system for devices and services connected to the internet. It’s essentially, how your domain gets its name.
IP Address: An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a series of numbers assigned to any device connected to a network that uses the Internet for communication. The IP address is where the domain actually points to, and is generated by your host.
Host/Hosting Provider: A web hosting service is where your actual website is stored. Hosting providers create a server space for you to point your domain/URL and for your site, email, and CMS to function within. They also provide extra security features and often will allow you to register your domain all in one space. If you are looking for a reputable host I recommend Siteground.
FTP: FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a file delivery system by way of the internet. Your hosting provider will give you FTP access to your site files so you can add and change it at your leisure.
CName: A CName or Canonical Name is a way of mapping domain names to IP addresses. When you point your domain to a particular IP address or hosting provider you will need the CName of the host in order to effectively point your domain.
Content Management System (CMS): A CMS is a framework that allows users to create websites and build on them over time. In terms of websites, it allows users to manage and publish information on their site within a framework developed specifically for the chosen CMS. Examples of website content management systems include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and many others.
Control Panel: A control panel is located on with your hosting provider. It is an online user interface that provides tools for managing a website, the web hosting account, email, and other server/hosting options.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is simply maximizing the number of visitors to your website by ensuring your site appears high on search engine results through quality content and proper site structure. Essentially increasing the quality and quantity of visitors to your site.
Responsive design: Responsive design is building your site to be flexible across devices. Ensuring your site design is not comprised by the screen size but flows naturally from one device to the next.
User experience (UX): In terms of web design UX refers to how humans interact with the site and flow from one place to the next. A good user experience would consider how users are navigating through the site and ensure they are easily able find what they are searching for.
Landing Page: A landing page is a single published page that is meant to achieve a particular goal—such a capturing a lead (or an email). Often a landing page will be attached to a marketing campaign that lives on social media or elsewhere and points users to the landing page to capture their information or promote a product or service.
Website maintenance: Site maintenance means regularly checking your website for updates, potential issues, and generally keeping it relevant and up-to-date.
Site back-up: A website back up is a copy of your website that can be used to restore your site should it be hacked or otherwise compromised. If you regularly update your site you should regularly keep a backup.
This is only a short—and growing list—of web terms. If there is something you are looking to understand better, not included above, reach out via email and I’ll update the list accordingly.