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Web Industry Jargon

The web industry often uses its own language, or languages, comprised of acronyms and terms that have been granted new meanings. If you aren’t up to speed, you may have a difficult time communicating – especially when you are researching web firms or are starting to work with a new partner.

You may find it’s important that you understand the lingo to be well-equipped to truly understand a designer or developer’s approach, and to evaluate whether or not they are a good fit for you. To help get you started, this reference guide contains an alphabetical list of some of the most common web terms.



Above the fold

Term that refers to what the user will see without having to scroll. It is based on a newspaper term that refers to content on the top half of the paper.



This is the ability of a website to be used not only by people with disabilities, but anyone who may have limitations while accessing the web, such as slow internet speed.



Stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is typically used for creating dynamic web applications and allows for asynchronous data retrieval without having to reload the page a visitor is on.


Anchor Text

The text a link uses to refer to your site.



Back End

The side of your website that is not visible to visitors; it is where the content is managed. It can also refer to the programming code and files uses to make your site run.



The amount of data that can be transmitted at a given moment to a server. The higher your bandwidth, the larger amount of traffic your site can handle at one time.


Bounce Rate

The percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they arrived on, without clicking through to any other pages.



A trail of progress through a website which allows you to retrace your steps within the site.



Also called a web browser, it is software that allows a user to view web pages in the Internet.



The space on your computer where copies of web pages you have visited are stored. This helps page load speeds because your browser will remember files it already loaded and not reach out to the hosting server to retrieve the files again.


Cascading Style Sheets

Also referred to as CSS, they are used to define the look and feel of a website such as typefaces, colors, borders, etc.



When a user selects a hypertext link to visit another web page, the action is called a click-through.


Content Management System

A tool which allows the web owner, often without knowledge of HTML, the ability to create, modify, reorganize or remove information from a website.



A piece of code saved to the hard drive of a website visitor that stores information to personalize the site upon their return. Cookies can be used to retrieve passwords or save preferences.



Stands for Domain Name Service. This converts IP addresses into domain names.



Extensions used in domain names (a unique name that identifies a site on the internet) that provide general information regarding the type of site or its country of origin. In the US, the most common domains include .edu, .gov, .net, .com, and .org. Outside of the US, domains indicate the country: .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), .au (Australia), .jp (Japan), or .fr (France).



Short for electronic commerce, represents buying and selling of products and services via the internet.



The securing of information that is transmitted across non-secure sites. Users sharing personal or banking information should ensure that data is encrypted to protect their identities.



A piece of security software or hardware designed to protect web servers. They are typically used to protect sites from hacker attacks/unauthorized access.


Fixed Width Layout

A set width (generally defined in pixels) set by the designer. The width stays the same regardless of screen resolution, monitor size, or browser window size.



A multimedia technology developed by Macromedia that is often embedded in HTML pages for style and functionality, commonly in the form of animations.


Fluid Layout

Based on percentages of the browser window’s size. The layout of the site will change the width of the browser, even if the visitor changes their browser size while viewing the page.



Short for File Transfer Protocol, a method of allowing remote users and web servers to exchange files.



Graphic Interchange Format, a format for compressed graphic files that allow them to be transmitted quickly over the internet.


Home Page

The main page or starting page of a website.



The space on the internet server where your website files live.



Short for HyperText Markup Language, the language by which web servers and client browsers communicate. It is generally referred to as the skeleton of a website.



Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the protocol by which the HTML files move across the Internet.



A link from one web page to another, either on the same site or another one.



A collection of computers all across the world that connect to form a large network. These computers communicate with one another, allowing for the exchange of emails, viewing of web pages, and transfer of files. When you connect to the internet, your computer becomes part of the internet.



Similar to the internet, a collection of computers connected together into a network. However, access is restricted to specific computers, so often used by companies to maintain privacy.


IP Address

Internet Protocol Address, a unique number assigned to your computer or a server when you access the Internet.



A general purpose computer programming language that is specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible.



A dynamic computer programming language which implementations allow client-side scripts to interact with the user, control the browser, communicate asynchronously, and alter the document content that is displayed. It is also used in game development and the creation of desktop and mobile applications.



A word or phrase typed into a search engine query in order to locate websites that have similar content.


Landing Page

Where a visitor first enters a website.


Meta Data

The data contained in the header that offers information about the web page that a visitor is currently on. The information is available in the source code and contained within meta tags.

Meta Tag

HTML commands such as title, description, and keywords that are added by the web designer to the coding of the website and are used by search engines to classify pages for searches.



Links, buttons, or clickable images allow users to explore a website.


Open Source

Refers to the source code of a computer program being made to the general public. Includes both web-based and desktop applications. Open source programs are generally free.



A bit of third party code that extends the capabilities of a website.


Progressive Enhancement

A strategy for web design that uses web technologies in a layered fashion that allows everyone to access the basic content and functionality of a web page, using any browser or Internet connection, while also providing those with better bandwidth or more advanced browser software an enhanced version of the page.




Refers to the physical number of pixels displayed on a screen.



Generally refers to a portion of code on an HTML page that makes the page more dynamic and interactive.



A computer on a network that shares information, emails or web pages with other computers on the network.



Refers to scripts run on a web server, as opposed to in a user’s browser.



A complete index of all the pages in a website, which can be used as a visual reference or as a submission to search engines.


Splash Page

A special page that sometimes precedes a website’s home page, intended to deliver a specific message or help direct traffic to specific areas of the site. Could also be a Landing Page.



Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape to handle and protect confidential/sensitive information required for e-commerce transactions (like credit card numbers). SSL addresses usually begin with ‘https’.



Formatting codes used in HTML documents that provide instructions by web browsers to display web pages correctly.



Universal Resource Locator, the specific address for a resource or website on the internet. URLs are entered into web browsers in order to visit specific websites. It is slightly different from a domain name in that a URL can have a series of notations after the extension (.com) that indicate a path to a specific file or page.



Refers to how easy it is for a visitor to your site to use your site in its intended manner. In other words, how navigation, content, images, and any interactive elements are easy to use, functioning the way they were intended, and that your intended visitor will not need any special training in order to use your site.



Valid web pages are those that return no errors based on the type of markup language specified.



Short for Virtual Private Network, a private communications network usually used within a company to communicate over a public network.



An acronym that stands for “What You See is What You Get”, which describes a page editing program allowing the user to create or modify web pages without the knowledge of HTML or other coding languages. Often found within a Content Management System.



Stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language.



Stands for Extensible Markup Language, used for creating other custom markup languages. It allows the user to define the markup elements.



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