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Website Terminology, Decoding the Jargon

The techno savvy may be more familiar with internet and web-related terminology. However, there are several fundamental terms which are still unclear to the average user. It is important to define and at least note the importance of basic website terminology, which is fast becoming native talk in the World-Wide-Web community of participants. Let us consider web hosting, design, development, CMS, domains, URLs and HTML.

Web Hosting

This is a type of internet service which allows organizations or individuals to make their websites live and accessible via the World-Wide-Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on servers that are leased or owned for utilisation by clients, as well as provide internet connectivity. The host is typically a data centre, which at times can also provide space and connectivity for other servers known as collocation or housing. Web hosting services can vary from basic, which is generally free with various internet service providers (ISPs) to complex hosting packages incorporating database support and application development platforms, such as PHP.

Web Design

The website terminology described here involves the holistic look and feel of a website including the layout, navigation and colour-scheme. It may incorporate designing of the logo and company graphics. It relates to aesthetics and user experience rather than functionality. The designed product will not typically include any code. However, the graphic representation is utilized by the same person or typically another as a foundation for the coding. The graphic of the website is separated into two parts that can be represented by pure graphics and the other by specific code that will enable certain functionality.

Web Development

This website terminology points to the process that facilitates the functionality and features of a website. It deals with the back-end programming rather than the graphic face of a website. Web development functions incorporate registration, content management systems, e-commerce and any database applications. This process enables users to navigate, perform functions and interact with the site.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

These are computer based systems that enable publishing, editing and modification of content and site maintenance from a central page. They provide various procedures to manage workflow or website content in an interactive and dynamic environment. Depending on the particular system the tools and procedures may require more manual steps or may be more automated. Two popular examples are Joomla and WordPress, which have incidentally also become increasingly prominent website terminology. Joomla is a free, open source content management framework used for publishing content on the web, intranets and model-view-controller frameworks. WordPress is a free, open source blogging tool and dynamic CMS based on PHP and MySQL.


In order to publish a website one has to first register a domain, which can be accomplished via the same web hosting company or an independent domain registration company. For instance, there are country specific domains such as co.za connoting a South African organization and .com for global businesses. A domain name includes the domain extension and it is the deemed name of the website or company which has to be registered, for instance ABCCompany.com. There are also sub-domains; however each domain name is linked to an internet protocol (IP) address pointing to a specific computer.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

This website terminology refers to types of uniform resource identifiers, which can be defined as specific character strings that point to specific internet resources. This identification enables interactions with representations of the resource over a network, normally the internet utilising specific protocols. In generic terms a URL refers to a complete link e.g. Http://www.ABCCompany.co.za/Products/XYZ.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

HTML is the primary markup language for displaying web pages and information that can be viewed in a web browser. The browser interprets HTML and converts it into visible or audible web pages. It is written in the form of HTML elements comprising of tags within angle brackets. A markup language is a modernised system for annotating or attaching comments to particular sections of a document in a manner that is syntactically different form the text. Syntax is the study of principles and processes used to structure sentences in particular languages.

The above although seemingly complex at first appearance breaks down and expands on some of the fundamental website terminology. With these terms being exchanged so often, as we ride on the technological crest, at least a basic understanding is useful. This read is a simple yet foundational step in decoding the jargon!


Bridgette Donnelly

Bridgette Donnelly is co-owner of the internet marketing company MJ Media based in Durban. She is passionate about helping businesses achieve great results with internet marketing and enjoys being part of this ever-changing industry. Find Bridgette on: Google+


Over the past 5 years, MJ Media have fine-tuned our online marketing platforms, improved our Google presence and increased our website visits and enquiries. The end result, leading to greater brand awareness and a growing business. It’s been an exciting journey!

Dale Horne, Symbiotix Group

Bridgette and Giselle have managed our Adwords account for over 12 months and have always provided excellent and efficient service with a flexible and proactive approach. We are very pleased at the results obtained so far and look forward to continuing our successful relationship with MJ Media. We would recommend MJ Media to any organisation seeking to outsource some or all its internet marketing requirements to a trustworthy and transparent supplier.

Rob Schofield, Director, RJ Retail Ltd, trading as WoodenToyShop.co.uk

MJ Media have been amazing since day one, they listen, they are patient and they give advice which is always the best, they are helping me grow my business. I have seen increased quote requests from our web site. MJ Media’s work on internet marketing has made a significant difference to my business. I appreciate the hard work that they put on our marketing and look forward to continuously working with them.

Gisela Oliveira, Mozambique Tourism

Vet Products Online has been operating effectively for 12 years, but this year I thought it was time to progress to the next step of online marketing and social networking. MJ Media was recommended to me to assist and manage Facebook and Google marketing. Bridgette and Giselle are two stars in their field, both professional and enthusiastic. Their support is reliable and their turn around time to requests, queries or project needs is speedy. We have certainly benefited positively from MJ Media input and I highly recommend them to other companies who have internet marketing requirements.

Anne Mullins, Owner, Vet Products Online, www.vetproductsonline.co.za

Bridgette and Giselle have been our online partners for about 4 years now. Flexible Workspace sells office space and related services in the B2B market and as the founder not only am I convinced that Online is the most effective channel for our offering but that MJ are the right service provider for us. Being a relatively small (but growing) business, we need to be nimble and they in turn need to be ready and geared to move with us – MJ gets this. Having access to the decision maker/driver of the business is also important to me – they have a personal touch that larger agencies are unable to replicate. Finally, and most importantly they produce results – from the time MJ took over our account they have increased our lead flow 5-fold. As a business owner this is all I’m interested in – lead generation and conversion – this is the real measure of Return on Investment and they have delivered in spades.

Brad Porter, Flexible Workspace