The Ultimate Glossary: Guide to Building a Website

By Sarah York | | Tagged Website Resources

Building a website, even if you’ve hired someone to do it for you, comes with a whole new language. Here’s a quick guide to essential technology, design and marketing terms to help you build the best website for your business. 


CMS Content Management System  

An application that manages the content on a website. It is generally user-friendly, allowing anyone to make changes to their websites without any coding experience. The CMS allows the website owner to publish, edit, delete, replace, and arrange the front-end content (what the customer sees). Some examples of content include text, graphics, photos, video, audio, and code for any apps on your website (like a review widget or chat program).


The “behind the scenes” of a website. Website visitors see the front-end of a website while the back end is hidden from view and contains the structure of the website. The back-end houses the CMS and is accessed by the website owner or their technology team. 

Front End

The part of your website that the user/customer sees and interacts with - also known as user-interface.


Language used to write computer software programs and webpages. Code comprises the architecture of a website and can be written in many different languages. 


A code language that turns design into functional websites.

API Application Program Interface

A piece of code written into computer software that allows applications to communicate and share data with each other.  


World Wide Web


A program on your computer, phone, or tablet that allows you to view webpages (for example Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari)

URL Uniform Resource Locator 

A website’s street address on the world wide web.


A service that stores your website data so it can be accessed online. Data is stored on servers (a type of computer) and accessed each time someone types in your website address.

Cloud Hosting

Instead of one server, an unlimited amount of servers are connected into a “cloud”. Your website data can easily be accessed by any server on the network increasing the speed and reliability of your website. 


When a visitor enters a website, a tiny piece of data is sent from that website to the visitor’s web browser. This “cookie” is stored in the visitors web browser and transmits certain types of information back to the website. 


Electronic commerce. AKA online shopping. It includes physical purchases that require shipping and digital purchases (like a Kindle book).

Payment Gateway

A service provider and software to conduct and authorize financial transactions for ecommerce websites. 

Website Design

Responsive Design

A type of website design that allows the website to change formats based on the user’s screen size. A responsive website is user-friendly and looks professional on computers, phones and tablets alike.


A visual model of what your website will look like when it’s complete. They have no functionality are usually approved by all parties before website development begins.


A prominent graphic on a website designed to attract a visitors attention and convey important information. “Hero Banners” or “Main Banners” are large, rectangular graphics placed front and centre on a website and serve as a main focal point.  


How a visitor moves around your website including menus, links, icons and buttons on your website.

The Fold

Derived from the newspaper term, “the fold” or “below the fold” describes the lower half of a website that is cut off by the computer/mobile/tablet screen. The information “above the fold” is considered to be the most valuable as it’s the first seen by the website visitor.

User Experience

The description of how a visitor feels while navigating a website or app. For example: Was the website easy or confusing to use? Did the website load fast or slow? Many factors contribute to user experience and it’s an important consideration when building a website. 


Call to Action (CTA) 

A visual focal point on your website that invites customers to act. Common examples of Call to Action are “Buy Now” or “Signup Here” or “Enter your email”.


When your website visitors participate in the Call to Action. For example, how many website visitors entered their email addresses when prompted or clicked the “Buy Now” button.

SEO Search Engine Optimization

The free discipline of making your website easy to find on search engines. SEO means several factors work together to build your website’s visibility like: website content, mobile-friendliness, website quality (speed to load pages, duplicate pages, broken links, etc), website architecture and geophysical location to name a few.

Landing Page 

The first page a visitor comes to on your website.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

A designated page on your website to help answer your customers most common questions. This can help decrease repeat phone and email queries. 

Local Search

Specialized search algorithms to refine search results by specific geographical locations. For example, “Best Tacos in Toronto” or “Hair Salons in Yorkville”.

Web Traffic

Visitors to your website

For a more detailed list of important online marketing terms, click here. 

Building a website, whether yourself or hiring someone to help, comes with new, confusing vocabulary to learn. Keep this guide handy and know your API from your HTML! Happy website building!

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