Glossary of Web Terms

Web projects often involve sometimes confusing technical terminology. There are specialized terms, acronyms, and jargon related to the overall website design and development process, as well as the consultation, research, and maintenance phases.

This Glossary provides explanations of web-related technical jargon to help create a common language for collaborating with website partners.

The ability of a website, mobile application, or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those users who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities.
Alt Text
Alternative text presented to blind screenreader users in place of images they cannot see. Every image that conveys content or has a function on your website should be given alternative text.
Main content area of each page on a website.
Navigation element that allows users to orient themselves within a website, or to move to one of the intermediate pages. They are usually placed near the top of the page, providing links back to each previous page that the user navigates through in order to get to the current page.
Call to Action (CTA)
The word, phrase, or piece of content that prompts a website visitor to perform a specific act, such as clicking on a link. CTA elements are features such as buttons, tabs, or links that enable users to perform the expected action.
Color Contrast
Difference between two colors. Levels of contrast vary from high to low, depending on their position on the color wheel, with black and white creating the highest contrast possible. Using contrasting colors is a useful tool when designing accessible web content.
Content Document
Simple document that serves two purposes: a paragraph-level companion to a website's wireframes and a simple, effective means of getting useful information from site experts to site writers and designers.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS helps manage the creation and modification of digital content. It uses a backend interface to push changes to live websites and typically includes WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") text editors and fields to upload digital assets such as images and videos.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
With CSS, web designers can create a style sheet to define the look of different elements such as headers, fonts, and links, and apply the styles to multiple web pages.
Domain Hosting
Domain hosting refers to vendors that specialize in hosting domain names for individuals and companies. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular web pages. Sometimes domain hosting and web hosting are used synonymously because vendors offer both services, but they are separate functions.
Domain Name
A domain name is your website’s address that specifies where a browser should go to look for information on the internet. When you access a website through a web browser, the domain name is translated to an Internet Protocol (IP) address, which represents the server on which the website is hosted.
Domain Name Servers are the internet’s equivalent of a phone book or directory. They keep an updated list of domain names and translate them back into IP addresses. Although people find it easy to remember domain names, the internet is based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address.
Drop-down Menu
Navigational menu with sub-menus or categories below it. When hovered over or clicked on, the sub-menus “drop down” to become visible to the user. This is sometimes referred to as a flyout menu.
Bottom section of a website that appears on every page of the website. A number of items can be displayed here, such as contact information, links to a social media feed, or a newsletter subscription form.
Google Analytics
Detailed web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. In order to use Google Analytics, a website must have a tracking code in the code of the website, as well as a Google Analytics account to access the tracking results/reports.
System of horizontal and vertical lines providing a structural basis for page layout and design which communicates order, economy, and consistency. The grid provides a common structure and flexibility for organizing content.
Hamburger Menu
Toggle navigation menu that is mainly used for mobile versions of website navigation as it compresses the navigation and expands when clicked. Called a hamburger because it is usually displayed with three horizontal lines that look like a hamburger.
Top section of website that appears on every page of a website. The header usually displays the navigation bar and may incorporate items such as a logo, name, and search function.
Hero Image
A hero image is a large banner image prominently placed on a web page, generally in the front and center.
Home Page
Main page of a website that serves as the starting point.
Information Architecture (IA)
Organizing of information, including site hierarchies, web content, labeling schemes and navigation. IA makes it easy to intuitively find, understand, and manage information.
Interaction Design (IXD)
Study of how a user interacts with a page, application, or product. IXD facilitates the actions users want to take with any given system.
A programming language that can create dynamic and complex features on web pages. Its features are used to enhance web pages and make them more engaging and can include things like interactive maps, animated graphics, and live content updates.
Landing Page
A top-level page that serves as the first page for a website section. This often corresponds with a link in the main navigation.
Main Navigation/Menu
Navigational elements that appear on a website. Also known as the menu bar and commonly located at the top of a website or on one side
Data that helps define the contents of a web page. The information contained in the metadata isn’t visible on the web page but is contained in meta tags in the source code of the website. For example, the description meta tag is used by search engines to display a description of the web page in the search .
Detailed static representation of the website design. A good mockup demonstrates the information structure, content, and basic functionality in static form. Mockups make it easier to envision the idea of the final product.
Page Title
Title of a web page that appears in the browser window.
Page Type
Defines the content and layout settings of a page. Page type examples may include events, news, or landing pages.
Detailed representation of the final product. It simulates user interaction with the interface and allows the user to rate the content and interface and test the primary options for communication with the app. Interactions must be modeled in a way that closely mimic the final product
Responsive Web Design
Provides an optimal viewing experience across platforms and devices. The content and layout of a website should efficiently respond or adapt to the technology or type of device on which it is opened.
Also known as Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication, RSS is a standard that allows for the syndication of web content from an online publisher to Internet users. RSS feeds are typically used to publish frequently updated information, such as blog entries or news headlines.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Refers to helping search engines understand the information on a website in order to rank higher in organic search results. This includes having title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text for images on a website.
Search Results
Pages that a search engine shows in response to a user’s search term. The order in which the resulting websites are listed are called rankings. Most users will not click beyond the second page of results, which is why ranking/appearing on the first few pages is of critical importance.
Section on the side of some or all web pages within a website. Displays information that may need to be accessed from all or certain pages on a site, such as a mailing list sign up form, related links, or a list of recent blog posts.
Document that shows a global, hierarchical view of a website’s pages and content. This is usually one of the first steps in a website design as it is important to know what content is needed on a website before design begins.
Rotating banner of images that is usually placed on the homepage of a website in a slideshow format to highlight different content and include images or video.
Pre-designed HTML resource(s) that define the content structure for the layout and visual design of web pages.
User Experience (UX)
Broad term that includes several disciplines that study the effect of design on the ease of use and level of satisfaction with a product, website, or system.
Web Hosting
By working with a web hosting vendor, website owners can save and access their website quickly without having to purchase and connect their own web server. Many website builders include hosting services within their subscriptions.
A simplified sketch of the important information on a page, also known as page architecture, page schematic, or a blueprint. This skeleton of the website design which should contain all the important elements of the final product.
Acronym for “What You See Is What You Get.” A WYSIWYG website builder is a program that allows you to visually edit your site in an environment that is almost identical to your live website.
301 - Redirect
Permanent redirect from one URL to another, usually from an old website to the new website. 301 Redirects are also used to redirect traffic from old web pages to the new pages that have taken their place. (e.g., “” is now “”) on the new website to avoid a 404 error.
404 - Page Not Found
Message a user sees when they try to reach a nonexistent page on a website; usually due to someone reaching a page that has been deleted, or if they have mistyped the URL. An effective 404 error page should communicate why the page doesn’t exist and what users can do next.