Web Development Terminology You Want to Know


There are many specialized terms which refer to all aspects of web development and web design. Not everyone is a computer scientist, and we don’t all have a good working knowledge of web development technology. That’s why we assembled this list of commonly-used web design and web development terminology.

  • Anchor text – also referred to as link label, link text, or link title – is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. For example, in this sentence, the words “in this sentence” are anchor text!
  • Apache (officially known as Apache HTTP Server) is a program that runs on web servers and enables them serve up web pages. It’s the most commonly used web server software.
  • Back end refers to everything that is going on behind the scenes on a website or web application. Things that make up the back end of a site are generally not accessible to people viewing the site – for example, your site might have a database, some code, an authentication protocol, etc.
  • Banner is a type of advertisement that appears on a web page.
  • Bounce rate describes the proportion of website visitors who visit a web page and then leave without clicking any other link within the same website. (This can be a good or bad thing, depending upon what sort of website you have.)
  • Breadcrumbs are website navigation elements that show visitors where they are located within a website’s hierarchy. They often appear somewhere near the top of the page and look something like this: “You are here: Home > Our Products > Widgets”
  • Bootstrap – also known as Twitter Bootstrap – is a collection of code (made up of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other elements) that enables web developers to more easily create mobile-friendly websites. Without Bootstrap or another similar framework, web developers would need to write a lot of code – and spend a lot of testing time – to create web pages that look good on various devices and screen sizes.
  • CMS stands for “Content Management System,” and refers to a type of software that enables people to edit the text, images, and other content on their website.
  • CTA stands for “Call to Action.” This term is used to refer to a part of a website that directly encourages a visitor to do something – whether that is signing up for a service, leaving a comment, or clicking a link.
  • Domain name: A site’s domain name is the bit of text that someone enters into their web browser in order to reach a particular site. In order to secure a particular domain name, you must register that domain with a Domain Name Registrar.
  • Favicons are tiny images that can be displayed next to a domain name in the address bar of the web browser. They are often tiny, simplified versions of a company’s logo, or a stylized image of the first letter in a company’s name.
  • “The Fold” is a term that is used when referring to the content that a site visitor can see as soon as they get to a particular page. Anything a visitor can see without scrolling is referred to as “above the fold,” while content that a visitor must scroll down to see is “below the fold.”
  • HTML stands for “Hypertext Markup Language.” It is a language that’s used to structure a website’s content.
  • I/O stands for “Input/Output.” In the context of web development, “input” generally refers to information that is provided by a site visitor, while “output” is whatever content is generated and displayed as a result of that input.
  • JavaScript is a programming language that normally runs in browsers to provide interactive effects. For example, JavaScript is often used to let users drag and drop content around, display interactive graphs and charts, show errors if forms are not properly filled out, and send data to and from a server without reloading the page.
  • jQuery is a library of pre-written JavaScript (see ​JavaScript​, above) that enables web developers to write JavaScript more easily and ensure that it works across many different browsers.
  • Lorem ipsum is text that web designers and developers often use as placeholder content when developing a website, until the final content is ready. The most commonly used version is a scrambled Latin passage written by Cicero.
  • Metadata is information about a web page that’s stored in the web page’s code and typically helps search engines to index the page better. It is not visible to a site visitor unless they look at the HTML.
  • Open source refers to software that is made available to the public for free. This can include fully operational programs or small bits of script that can be inserted into a website. Laravel is an example of an open source PHP framework. Check out when to use open source code in your web application.
  • Responsive websites have a single set of HTML pages that “respond” (resize themselves) to fit different screen sizes. If you’re looking at this page on a desktop or laptop computer, slowly shrink the width of your browser window. This website is responsive – so as your browser gets narrower, you’ll notice how areas of the page “collapse” and the text wraps in order to respond to the change in size. If you make it as narrow as possible, you’ll see roughly how this page might look on a phone!
  • UI stands for “user interface”, which are the website elements that people who visit a website interact with. A good UI designer will make sure that visitors find the website to be easy to use and also aesthetically pleasing.
  • UX stands for “user experience”. Although it is often used interchangeably with UI (see above), it has a different meaning. It refers to the practise of ensuring that a web application solves end-users’ problems. UX designers typically focus on what features should be in a website and how they should be laid out on the various pages – and leave the actual design of the site (fonts, colors, the shape of buttons, etc.) to UI designers.
  • Web app / web application is a type of website that – to put it simply – has functionality that goes beyond displaying static pages of content. If a website does things like display dynamic data, streamline business processes, handle payments, etc., then it’s a web application.
  • Wireframe is a simple “line drawing” or blueprint of a web page that shows its layout in a simplified format. Wireframes usually don’t include colors or special fonts – so they’re a great way to quickly plan the features on a website before getting bogged down with time-consuming design decisions.
  • WYSIWYG stands for “What You See Is What You Get”. It usually refers to a type of text box or editing tool through which you can edit content (text and graphics) in a format that closely resembles its appearance in a finished product (for example, a web page). A lot of CMS tools (see above) have WYSIWYG editors through which you can change the font, create bulleted lists, resize photos, and more.

What did we miss? Let us know your favorite web design term. Or have a web development project you would like to discuss? Drop us a line!

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