Website Jargon Explained
Just as lawyers talk their own language, technical folk talk their own language. It makes it easier for them to talk to each other about things they both already understand.
In our opinion technical jargon should only be used between people that already understand it. So if we talk technical to you, please stop us!
But some website jargon is so common, you’re likely to come across it anyway. A basic understanding can help.
The list below is neither technical nor comprehensive. My take is that if you are not using the jargon regularly, most of what you learn will be forgotten. So the idea is to give you a high level understanding of the basics. If you do want to know more, Google will help you!
Bandwidth describes how much information can be sent down a connection, usually between two computers.
So like a garden hose can only carry so much water, a computer connection only has a certain bandwidth.
Computers only understand binary – that is either a “1” or a “0”. Rather like a switch.
A bit refers to the single piece of information that is either “1” or “0”.
There’s a classic joke “there are only 10 types of people in the world. Those that understand binary, and those that don’t”. In binary “10” doesn’t mean the number ten.
The joke is if you don’t know that, then you don’t understand binary! Some people think it’s funny.
A byte is a collection of 8 bits. So one byte can carry a lot more information than one bit.
What did the computer do at lunchtime? It had a byte! Some people find this funny too!
A browser is a program that knows how to talk to the internet. It understands how to display a web page.
Firefox, IE (or Internet Explorer) and Chrome are common browsers.
A web browser understands HTML and CSS so that it can display a web page to you.
CSS (cascading Style Sheets) is a computer language that tells your web browser how to display information. So CSS might tell the browser what colour to display a line of text, for example.
Good web design practices suggest that content (eg text) is kept separate from information on how to display it.
So HTML can be used to deliver content. CSS can be used to describe how to display it.
Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is just a set of programs that store and control information that makes up your website.
A CMS makes it easy to create, view and modify the information that makes up your website. Without it you might have to know something about programming, or at least be quite technical, to make changes to your website content.
A CMS has many more complex functions too. But they are all about managing the information about your website.
Copywriting is essentially just writing.
The term copywriting is usually connected with marketing and selling to people. That’s obviously a very different skill than writing a novel.
Copywriting for the web is similar, but on the web people tend to skip read, so adjustments are made for that.
A computer that can still run despite the failure of a part or parts.
So for example, a server has fault tolerant memory. Your PC, on the other hand, will most likely just crash if the memory has a fault.
A firewall controls what comes in and out of a computer connected to the internet.
Without a firewall anyone could connect to your computer whenever they like.
H1 tag (heading tag)
Although detailed HTML jargon, the term h1, h2, h3 heading is often talked about. It simply refers to a part of the HTML language that identifies text that is a heading.
The term is often used when talking about SEO because headings are an important way to tell both search engines and people what your text is about.
The term host can have different meanings. In general it refers to any computer that has access to and from the internet.
So for example, if a server isn’t connected to the internet, it’s just a server. If it is connected to the internet, it could also be called a host.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a computer language that your web browser understands.HTML tells your web browser what to display and how.
So for example, it will tell your browser where the heading starts and ends, and where the main body of text starts and ends.
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the format of the messages used on the internet to send HTML between computers.
So in a similar way that you can’t post a letter without an envelope, you can’t just send HTML – you need to wrap it in HTTP.
You will often see a web address (or URL) prefixed with http:. That’s because a URL is sent using the http format.
IMAP is a format of messages often used to send and receive email.
Emails read using IMAP can be read without copying to your computer. Using IMAP you can see the same mail from different computers.
IP (or TCP/IP)
Transport Control Protocol or Internet Protocol is the basic message format that computers on the internet use to talk to each other.
TCP/IP is a basic (or low level) message format and it handles errors, where to send messages and so on.
Other (higher level) message formats are then used to send messages using TCP/IP so that they don’t have to worry about errors and addresses and so on.
In order to connect to the internet, you must connect to a computer system that knows where to find all the other computers on the internet. An internet service provider (ISP) does this for you.
You must connect to an ISP to be able to connect to the internet.
Linux is an operating system. It’s free and cheap to maintain, so it’s frequently used to run web servers.
Although detailed HTML jargon, the term meta description is often used. It simply refers to a part of the HTML language that gives a brief summary of what your web page is about.
The term is often used when talking about SEO, because google might use your meta description in its search listing summary.
A network is a group of computers that can talk to each other.
An operating system is a set of programs that tell a computer what to do and how to interact with the outside world.
Windows is an operating system. It displays a set of windows on your screen each of which can have different programs running in them. Hence the name!
PHP is a computer language. Different computer languages are best for different purposes. PHP is often used when writing software for web servers.
For example, content management systems are commonly written in PHP.
POP3 is a format of messages used to send and receive email.
Emails read using POP3 must be copied to your computer before you can read them.
A program is a set of instructions that your computer reads to tell it what to do. Without a program, your PC would do nothing – not even recognise your keyboard typing.
For example windows is a program. Without this you could not choose other programs (like Microsoft word) or use your browser.
A search Engine is software (or programs) that run on a set of servers (or computers) and collects information about all the websites on the internet.
“Google” usually refers to the Google search engine programs. When you “Google” something, the Google servers look in their records for information that they think is most relevant to your search. They then send your web browser a list of those websites, with a summary of each that Google creates.
Search Engine Optimisation is a very broad term. It means anything that makes your website more noticeable to search engines.
Making your website more noticeable to search engines means you might come up higher in the list when people search Google for something you sell or talk about on your website.
If you don’t come up high in a search list, people are not likely to see your website in search results.
People often concentrate too much on SEO. They forget that humans also need to find your site interesting. It’s a common mistake to have a website listed high in Google’s search engine results, yet people still dont buy much from the site. This can happen if the site isnt marketing well, or if the people who have been attracted to the site are never likey to buy in the first place.
A server is a computer just like your PC.
Servers might be more reliable, fault tolerant, more powerful and so on. But it’s still just a computer.
Although detailed HTML jargon, the term title tag is often used. It simply refers to a part of the HTML language that identifies text that is a title for the page.
The term is often used when talking about SEO because headings are an important way to tell search engines (and people) what your text is about.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the address or location of a website. www.backbonewebdesigns.com.au is the URL of our website.
A web server is simply a server (or computer) that creates the web pages that you see on your browser.
To do this a server runs specific software (or program(s)) that knows how to talk to the internet. Apache is the name of a program commonly used for this.
A web page is a single document. It’s written in HTML because that’s the language that web browsers understand.
A website is a collection of web pages.
Wrapping up the jargon
If you have followed the above then you might now be able to run up windows on your server, install apache and php.
You can then connect it to a network using TCP/IP. After you’ve installed a firewall, you connect to an ISP and get on the internet.
If you download a CMS (like WordPress) and a few other programs, you can create web pages and make a web site.
After that you need to do come copywriting and do some SEO. Connect to your email account using IMAP, and tell people your URL.
Better make sure you’ve got enough bandwidth in case you get popular!
Now you too can talk jargon!