What is a URL and Other Web Definitions 101
During any website design project, words and terminology get thrown around, and sometimes even the most web-savvy people don’t understand what’s being talked about. So, we put together a three-part series centered around website definitions that everyone should know so they can talk intelligently about their website to anyone asking. We’ve written the website terms in easy to understand language so everyone can speak intelligently.
In Part I of III on website definitions, we’ll cover the basics about what you need to know. In later sections, after 101, terms will become more complicated and not your every day website vocabulary, but first we need a foundation. So, here are the website terms you absolutely need to know:
URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator, but what it really means is the words you type in to go to a website. Your URL is the phrase you need to go somewhere on the internet, like www.cowleyweb.com/blog -> that’s a URL. A URL has also been identified as a “Web Address.”
This is the program you open up on your computer, tablet, or phone so you can go explore the internet. Its purpose is to be your gateway into the online world. Some of the most popular include Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer (even though Internet Explorer is awful and you should get another browser as soon as you can).
It’s a language all it’s own and a complicated string of phrases in which a developer makes your website. The code gives your site the look, feel, and functionality it needs to operate. Will you ever have to write code? Probably not, but you should understand that not everyone can do it and that without code your website doesn’t exist.
Domain Name (doh-mayne, nayme)
The domain name is a subset of the URL we just covered. The formula goes: www. - yourdomainname - .com (or .edu, .org, etc.). You have to purchase a domain name so you can put your website on it. For example, we bought cowleyweb as our domain name.
UI stands for User Interface and this covers how your website is laid out. The UI takes into account where buttons are, any navigation or menus, photos, words…all of the things you have on your website go into its UI. For a website to be visually appealing and have a good UI, you’ll need to hire a designer who knows what they’re doing and can implement best practices for web design.
Not to be confused with UI, UX is the User Experience. This is how a visitor interacts with your website and how they feel about using it. UI and UX are closely related, but their key difference is UI deals with the visuals, and UX focuses on feelings and actions.
Main Navigation (mayne, nav-i-gey-shun)
If your website has multiple pages, then there needs to be a way to go to them. Many times, that starts with the main navigation, which is usually placed at the top or left side of the website. A user can click in the main navigation to go to your core pages such as the home page, your about section, and contact form. Without a main navigation, your users will be lost and most likely never come back again.
Secondary Navigation (sec-un-dairy, nav-i-gey-shun)
Whenever you have more information that you want people to go to quickly, then you’ll have a secondary navigation. These items are attached to the main navigation and are usually shown in drop-down menus.
Top-Top Navigation (top, top, nav-i-gey-shun)
If you have separate information you want someone to get to easily, then you can implement a top-top navigation bar. Like the name, it goes directly at the top of the page and is smaller than both the main and secondary navigation items. Usually, the top-top is for returning users to your site so they can easily get where they need to go (like a login button or shopping cart).
A footer goes directly at the bottom of your website and will many times stay consistent across all of your pages. You can put any information you want into your footer, but for the most part it’s the basics like main navigation items, physical addresses, and other links.
Search Bar (surch, bahr)
When there is a lot of content on your site, you might have a search bar. It allows the user to type in what they want to find and then display those results. Think of it like Google, but specifically for your website.
A server can be a physical object or in “the cloud,” and it’s the place where all of your files are stored. So, any pictures you upload or pages you create, all go on the server so your website can function.
CMS stands for Content Management System and it’s a way for a website owner to add content, like blog or news articles, on their own while keeping the style in line with the established site. Some of the most common CMS’ include Drupal, Wordpress, and Joomla, to name a few.
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language and is a language of coding. Developers use HTML to make the site look and feel like it does, and allows the site to take form.
Header/Banner Images (hed-er/ban-er, im-ah-jis)
These are pictures or illustrations that go at the very top of the website. You normally see them scrolling by with specified messages or with pictures of people. The header or banner image can also be static with only one of them showing.
Slide Show (slyde, shoh)
When multiple pictures play one at a time in a certain place is called a slide show. This is commonly used to filter through multiple images without having to take up too much space.
Site Map (syte, map)
A Site Map is the structure and layout of your website. We use it to plan where pages will go, what content goes on those pages, and how the entire site flows. Site Maps are extremely important in the early stages of development so everyone knows what goes where.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s the process for search engines (like Google) to find your website and put it higher in the rankings. There are several elements to having good SEO, and your site structure and content are some of them.
Landing Page (lan-deeng, payge)
The place or page that a website visitor first comes to for a section (ie. about, portfolio, services, etc.) of your website. The landing page can also be considered the first place a users gets to when they come to your website.
Splash Page (splash, payge)
These are temporary pages that a user is pointed to. Usually it’s to sell a specific product or service, and they are very simple in nature. Splash pages have also been used in the past as a loading page before a user got to your actual home page, but no one likes this so don’t do it.
Home Page (hohm, payge)
The destination that you’d like a visitor on your site to start. It contains all of your important information and links to go to the different pages. It’s called a “home” page because it’s where your heart is and will have your strongest messages.
Secondary Page (sek-un-dairy, payge)
These kinds of pages are everything that the other types aren’t. They all follow a similar theme and hold the content that you’re sending people to.
Web Form (web, fawrm)
Forms are what you want people to fill out when they come to your site. You want a visitor to like you so much that they actually want to get a hold of you. Forms can capture any of the data you want, but in fairness, simpler is better.
This is where you send someone somewhere off of your site with the click of a button. Usually it’s a resource or an article, but always remember to have them open in a new tab or window.
Thumbnails are itty, bitty pictures of a larger images you have somewhere else. The thumbnail is there to provide a sneak peak of what more is to come.
We’ve all heard this buzzword, and it means that no matter what size your browser is, the website will respond accordingly. So, your design, look, and feel will always look great no matter what computer or device your visitors are using.
Stay tuned for more website definitions in Section 102 coming soon!