Key Website Terms You Need To Understand

By February 1, 2017General

Many business owners are looking for someone to design or redesign a website for them in order to establish or improve their online presence. Unfortunately, since website building is quite technical, most people find themselves unable to communicate clearly with the person working on their website; they are not familiar with the terminology used. This creates confusion between the client and the web design/development team hired, which can complicate the process. In addition, as a client, being unable to communicate clearly with the team that is building your website will mean that you cannot ask important questions that can help you make more informed decisions. Therefore, if you are considering having a website built, you should make a point of understanding the terminology used by website building professionals. Below is a look at some of the key terms that are used in the website building process:

  • Hosting

In website building, hosting refers to storing and maintaining website data on a server, thus allowing it to be accessed online. The servers used for hosting websites are internet-connected computers that run on a web server software. When you are having a website built, you need to have a good web-hosting server that will offer you enough bandwidth (space and speed) for all your website data. The server used should also be reliable, i.e, no downtime (going offline), ensuring that users can be able to access your website all the time. Most website building companies will also offer web hosting, and thus you can discuss the service with the company you hire.

  • Domain name/domain name registration

Domain name is the address of the website (usually made of numbers and letters), which you type into a browser when you want to access the website. For example, is the domain name for On Purpose Project’s website.

Domain name registration, on the other hand, refers to the process of registering a domain name for your website, so that it can be reserved specifically for your website. This way, no one else will be able to use your web address for their website.

  • Content Management System

A content management system, CMS, is a software application that is used to create and manage content on your website. This allows you to add, remove, or update your website content with ease. Examples of content management systems include WordPress, Squarespace, Joomla, Drupal, etc.

  • Custom code

A custom code refers to the code used to build your website, which is written specifically for your website and NOT pre-packaged for use on multiple websites. Therefore, if the website building company offers to custom code your website, what this means is that your website will be developed uniquely using a code that is specifically written for your business needs.  

  • Web developer

A web developer is a professional who is tasked with developing your website by creating programs and applications for the World Wide Web. Web developers are programmers who are proficient in various programming languages used to build websites, for example, HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, Python, and several others. They use these programming languages to create the structure that gives your website functionality.

  • Web designer

A web designer is the professional responsible for creating aesthetic and usability features of the website, i.e., the design. This includes the website layout and visual elements such as the colors, logos, buttons, icons, etc. A web designer is different from a web developer in that a developer is involved with the more technical aspects of the website (the functionality), while a designer handles the creative aspects (the look and feel).

  • Programmer

In website building, a programmer is an expert in computer programming language, who specializes in creating third party web applications, for example, payment gateway systems, custom plugins, and others. A web programmer can also be used to write the code that will be used to develop your website. The duties of a web programmer are similar to those of a web developer; they are both tasked with creating applications for the website under development. However, there is a very distinct difference between the two in that the programmer will handle the more technical stuff that is outside the scope of a web developer’s skills.

  • Website template/theme

The phrase “website template”  is another term you are likely to come across during the course of your website being built. It refers to a pre-built structure of a website made up of a set of web pages, which can be customized using content and other design features such as graphics, colors, logos, buttons, etc. to create a complete website. Since website templates are pre-built, they are used when you do not want your website to be custom-coded from the scratch.

Another key website building term that is used closely together with website template is the website theme, which refers to a web design structure made up of various design traits such as the color scheme, background images, website layout, the type and size of text fonts, etc. It is similar to a website template in that they are both pre-made but different in that a template has to do with the functionality of the site while a theme is for the look and style (design).   

  • Plugin/API

In website development, a plugin is an application software that adds various functionalities to your website, thus improving the user experience and making it easy for you to manage content on the site. The most popular ones are WordPress plugins, which are designed to be used on WordPress websites. However, plugins can also be custom coded, which is one of the responsibilities of a web programmer. An example of plugins includes media players, document editors, SEO plugins, e-commerce plugins, antivirus scanners, etc.

On the other hand, an API, which stands for Application Program Interface, is a set of rules, routines, and protocols that specify how software components are going to interact with a system. Therefore, in website building, APIs allows for the proper functioning of the plugins.

  • Web forms

A Web form (also referred to as an HTML form) is an interactive part of a web page that is similar to a paper document/form, where users can input data in the specified field. Web forms are made up of various elements such as text input fields, a radio button, a drop-down list, a submit button, and others. A good example of a web form is the login box, which features data input fields (username and password) and a submit button (the login button). Other examples include checkout boxes, account registration section, search boxes, and any other interactive section on a website that asks the users to enter and submit data.


When you are hiring a website building company, it is important that you are able to communicate clearly with the team working on your website. This will make it easier for you to ask questions that will help you make informed decisions about what you want on your website. In addition, being able to understand each other helps to make things move faster, thus eliminating any issues that might cause delays. The above terms are common in the website building process, and understanding what they mean can help you communicate much easier with your website building company.

If you are ready to hire a website building company and know how to better communicate your requirements, we are ready to listen to you.