What a pain when you don’t get it. Do you even need to know all these website vocabulary geek words?
Although many words can remain beyond your comprehension with no consequence at all, it’s not a bad thing to have a clue about the very basic website vocabulary, because the day your website is down or behaves weirdly for inexplicable reasons, you are not going to completely freak out. Instead, you will take a deep breath and know where to start to ask for help to get the problem solved.
If you build your website yourself, this list is going to be really useful. And even if you have a trusted person who will take care of your website forever and ever, then no, you don’t need to know that much. BUT, as an intelligent woman, you may not want to depend 100% on someone else to understand what makes the heart and soul of your business stay alive and healthy.
Save the link to this blog, so that you have it handy when you need it!
Let’s dive in! When techy things don’t work, you’ll be grateful to understand the following basics (some of it in order of logic, and not alphabetic.):
The back-office of your website:
This is your address on the internet, starting with www. and ending in .com or alternative endings, like .net, .org, etc. (These endings are called TLD – explained just below).
My domain, for example, is www.gorgeous-geek.com.
TLD stands for top-level domain, and in short, it refers to the end of the domain name, like the .com part.
You have probably also seen TLDs like .org and .net., and also country-specific TLDs like .es (in Spain), .de (in Germany) etc. Lately, new fancy TLDs are popping up like .online, .website, .training, and the best one so far: .pizza :). Imagine www.gorgeous-geek.pizza (that would be a whole different business hehe).
A service that is necessary to make it possible for others to see your website on the internet. The quality of your hosting service will influence how quickly (or slowly) your website loads and how stable it is. Also, the quality of their customer service will decide how stressed out you get when things don’t work, so choose wisely 😉 I recommend Siteground.
DNS and Name Servers
Domain Name System (or also Server or Service)… If you put this into Google, you will get loads of explanations that are completely incomprehensible, unless you are an IT person. And you are not, so here’s the easiest explanation I could muster coming up with:
The Internet doesn’t communicate internally by using alphabetic names (like our domain names, e.g. www.gorgeous-geek.com), but by a number. So, when computers talk, instead of saying, “Hey gorgeous-geek.com, I need to transfer some information from you to me”, it will say for example “Hey, 220.127.116.11., I need to transfer some information… “. The DNS system translates our domain names into these numbers so that everything makes sense to the Internet brain.
When do you need to know this? Hardly ever. You only need to know that for your domain to understand which hosting service it belongs to, you need to add the name server values provided by your hosting company in the name server settings of your domain provider. A blog about this will come up very soon, so sign up to not miss out on this exciting topic (yes, I’m ironic… but sign up anyway if you need to learn this. Dull or not, it’s definitely handy!).
FTP and FTP Accounts
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and is a standard way to transfer files between computers on a network. In the case of WordPress, you will use FTP if you ever need to access website files that are not accessible through your WordPress dashboard.
FTP is also your plan B when it happens that you cannot get into your WordPress dashboard (in cases like putting in bad code in the wrong place, or you have plugin conflicts, and find yourself with a white screen where you would usually have your login page. If you find yourself in this situation, your hosting company can also help you fix the problem, if you tell them what you did before the white screen happened. It looks bad but it is not a big deal actually. No stress – it’s easily sorted with your hosting company’s help when you have no idea how to manage the FTP yourself!)
An FTP account is needed to transfer files in this way, and you can create FTP accounts for multiple users in the cPanel of your hosting service. When you have the FTP account, you can access your website files through a free FTP program like FileZilla.
This is one of the most well-known website creation tools and is sometimes also called a content management system or blogging tool. WordPress is the easiest one to understand if you are a beginner. It still requires some technical skills, though.
Within WordPress, you manage your back-office things like the choice of theme, plugins, and widgets. With this you can create the visible part of your website by uploading and formatting your content and images, creating your site title/logo, and navigation bar to mention a few things.
This is a template with a pre-set design and layout of the website. It can usually be customized without code to some extent with the customization options each particular theme offers, and if you have more advanced needs, then it can be customized fully with coding skills like html and CSS (which is what I do for my clients).
In WordPress, a widget is a small program or software that you can add to your website to achieve a certain effect or function. They are placed into what is called widget areas (see image below, widget areas are e.g. Header Right, Primary Sidebar etc). You can add one or more widgets to a widget area, depending on the layout of your theme.
When you install a theme, there will be certain widgets already available to you to click and drag to the widget areas available for that theme, typically a search box widget, a text widget, a custom menu widget etc. Usually, you would want to have more widgets than those available to you in the theme, and you can get these from the plugin database. Once a plugin is installed and activated, they will appear on your widget dashboard in WordPress for easy click and drag into the desired widget area.
Below a screenshot of a widget section in the WordPress dashboard, and further down on the menu you can see on the left-hand side the menu item called Plugins that gives you access to the plugin database.
Examples of widget areas where only one single widget is appropriate would be for example the top widget area on the homepage below, displaying a slideshow.
In the case of the three widget areas below the large one, it would also best work with only one widget in each (each of them here displays a featured page with a preview of the details of three different services offered by the company).
In the sidebar widget area, you have space to add several widgets that will display vertically. Like in this example below they have added widgets as follows:
- A preview of a featured page (the about page)
- A search box
- A social media link section
- A newsletter sign up section
A plugin is basically the same as a widget, but not all plugins will be widgets. Some plugins have other functions, and will not show up in your widget area, but rather as a new item on your menu in the dashboard of WordPress.
The front-office of your website
This is the section of your website where you write regular posts about topics that are of high interest to your visitors and subscribers. The blog also serves to prove that you are an expert in your area and helps convey credibility. More about blogging in this blog post: Blogging, help! Do I need it?
Call to Action
A call to action is a message that tells your website visitors what you want them to do next. On a homepage you will typically find a call to action that tells visitors to sign up to the mailing list, like “Sign up to get my free gift”, and throughout any website, you will see variations of call to actions like “click here to see my services”, “contact me for a free consultation”, “check out my blog” etc.
When a website is seen from the mobile, it should be easy to read and navigate. Mobile responsive design will rearrange the widget areas to show the sidebar items below the main content (instead of squishing it all together to tiny text, or having to scroll sideways – totally annoying, right?). It will also adjust text and format in each widget area to the size of the display.
The navigation bar is simply the menu on top of the page (or sometimes also on the left or right hand side of a webpage), like this:
These are the newsletter sign-up boxes, but in the online world, it is usually referred to as an opt-in. Like this:
To have people sign up, there is usually some free gift involved to tempt visitors to leave their email addresses, and this often referred to as the opt-in gift. This is some kind of tempting info product you create that you exchange with your visitors in return for their email address, to be able to add them to your mailing list. It can be an e-course, a step-by-step guide to learn something, a ‘how-to’, a check-list, a video etc.
Social media share buttons
Buttons with links that make it easy to share your content with others on social media, like these:
Social media like button or follow me buttons
Links to your social media accounts, so that they can like your Facebook page, or follow and interact with you on other social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc. They could look something like these:
Ok, this is enough for now, don’t you think? But if you come over any words you would like to have explained that are not on the list, please send me a message, and I’ll create a non-techy explanation and add it.
I realize this is not really a blog post to read for fun, but great as a reference, so save the link to your favourites so that you have it handy the day you need it. It will be good to have around in a sticky spot!
And as usual, please share with those you know are planning or working on their website. It’s good to have one place where you can find it all, and I always add blog posts according to new topic requests. Do you have anything you want to know more about? Write to me, and I will blog about it 🙂