Web Design Dictionary – 20 Terms You’ll Need To Know

There are a lot of terms in Web Design that don’t crop up anywhere else. If you’re looking to build a website or you’re talking to someone doing it for you, it helps to know your CMS from your CSS. We’ve broken down a selection of the most commonly used phrases and abbreviations you’re likely to encounter when discussing your website.

We’ll cover some of them in more detail in future posts, so check back later if you’re looking for more information about something specific.


Anchor Text

The text you click on when clicking on a link. The text you use can be important, as it helps search engines determine what the page you’re linking to is about.


Back End

The parts of your website hidden to visitors. If you’re using a CMS, the back end is where you’ll be making changes to your site and its content.



Whenever someone links to your website from theirs, this is called a backlink. When used correctly they can have a significant impact on your search ranking.


Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site on the same page they arrived at. If your bounce rate is high, it can be a good indicator that your content and navigation needs improvement.



Content Management System. These are backend tools used to manage your site’s content, and provide a more user-friendly interface for designing and changing the layout of your website. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS available with over 24 million websites across the world running on it.



Cascading Style Sheets. These define how your website looks and help simplify the process of making changes to your website’s design, with all the stylistic choices gathered in one place.



Your website’s name. Without it we would be using IP addresses to connect to websites, but domain names provide easy to remember addresses that make sense to people instead of machines. When you purchase a domain name, it becomes associated with your website’s IP address.



Domain Name Servers convert your website’s IP address into your domain name. When you type a website URL into your internet browser, the DNS translates the domain into an IP address, allowing your browser to connect to the right web server.


Front End

If the Back End of your website is hidden to visitors, then the Front End is the parts they can see. This is the part of your website your visitors interact with, viewing your content and navigating your site.



Graphical User Interface. A fancier phrase to describe the Front End of your website, but it applies equally to websites, apps, and programs. The GUI is how people interact with your content.



Hypertext Markup Language. This is the primary language your website is written in and works alongside CSS. It is HTML that contains the bulk of your content, while CSS handles much of the layout and style.



HyperText Transfer Protocol. This is a set of rules that handles hypertext requests between your web browser and a web server.



HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Similar to HTTP, but done via a secure and encrypted connection. If the website you’re browsing has a green padlock next to its address in your browser bar, it is using HTTPS.


Landing Page

The page a visitor first arrives on when viewing your website. This might be your homepage if they’ve typed your address into their browser, or could be a high-ranking page of your site they have reached through a search query.


Meta Data

A web page’s meta data is contained within the header and provides a range of information about the page that isn’t usually visible on the page itself. It usually details a page’s keywords, description, and author, but can also include specific instructions for web crawlers indexing a site.



A plug-in is commonly used as part of a CMS, expanding the functionality of your website without the need to rewrite large chunks of code. They’re often third-party, meaning someone else has written them, and don’t just apply to websites. Many programs these days have a host of plug-in options available, such as ad blockers for internet browsers.



Responsive websites are built to display correctly across multiple platforms. This might be your desktop computer or a mobile phone, both of which have a wide range of possible screen sizes and resolutions to account for.



A block of code that adds dynamic elements to your website. Scripts come in a variety of forms and languages, written in everything from HTML to Javascript, handling everything from pop-ups to sliders. If you’ve ever wondered how a website knows when to display a pop-up as you’re about to leave their site or reach the bottom of a page, they’re probably using a script.



Secure Sockets Layer. SSL is the technology used to encrypt information sent between a server and its client and the S in HTTPS. Though commonly referred to as HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, it can also stand for HyperText Transfer Protocol over SSL.



Templates are commonplace for CMS users, providing them with a standardised structure and style to build their website from.

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