Understanding Common Website Terminology: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you new to the online space and feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the website terminology thrown around? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

Website Terminology

From domain names to SSL certificates, there’s a whole world of website jargon that can be hard to wrap your head around. It can be intimidating to hear some of these words and have no idea what is being talked about. Like a kid coming to class halfway through the semester and looking at the professor like a deer in headlights.

But fear not – in this beginner’s guide, I’m going to break down the most common website terminology in simple, easy-to-understand language. 

So whether you’re a total newbie or just need a refresher, let’s dive in and get you up to speed!

Domain Name – Think of your domain as the street address for your home you live in. When people go to your street address, they can come and visit you for coffee. When people go to your domain name, they can come and visit your home on the Internet. Examples include amazon.com, apple.com, shellyhill.com

Domain Registrar – Similar to registering your vehicle at a license bureau, you need to register your domain with a domain registrar. You tell them what name you want, they check to make sure it’s available, and then they register it for you so nobody else can steal it. It’s like staking your claim on a little corner of the internet, and the domain registrar is there to make sure nobody tries to step on your turf. 

Web Hosting – A web host is the place where your website lives. Think of them as the landlord for your online home. You rent space from them, and in turn they store your website files and make them available to people visiting your website. Without a web host, your website would just be a bunch of files sitting on your computer, and nobody would be able to see them.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) – This is the programming language behind your website. It is the code that is used to structure a web page and its content. Long ago, websites had to be built using HTML. Now there are applications like WordPress that let you build a site without having to know any HTML or programming language.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) – This is the language that is used to style a web page and make it look pretty. It defines how the elements on a page should look on a desktop vs. a tablet vs. a phone. Similar to HTML, you no longer need to know how to write CSS because programs like WordPress do it all for you.

Mobile Responsive or Mobile Friendly – You know how when you go to a website on your phone, and you can’t read anything? The text is really small and it’s impossible to find your way around the website? Well, that’s a website that hasn’t been made responsive, or mobile friendly. Responsive design changes a website’s appearance depending on where it’s being viewed; however, the content remains the same. WordPress will generally take care of this for you so no special coding is needed.

URL – A URL is basically just a fancy way of saying “website address”. You know how every website has a specific address you type in to get there, like “www.google.com” or  “www.facebook.com”? That’s the URL. It stands for Uniform Resource Locator, but you don’t need to worry too much about that. Just think of it as the unique identifier that tells your web browser where to find the website you want to visit.

SSL Certificate or Secure Certificate: Provides a secure connection between your website and a visitor’s web browser. When people visit your website, the information they are requesting or submitting is encrypted so it can’t be captured and stolen. An SSL Certificate is a digital certificate that says that the website is officially secure. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.

If the website you’re visiting is running on a secure server, you’ll see a little lock icon next to the web address. Clicking on this lock icon will allow you to view the secure certificate for the website.

HTTP/HTTPS: Have you ever noticed that some website addresses start with “http://” and others start with “https://”? That one letter makes a big difference in terms of website security. “Http” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is basically the way your web browser communicates with the website’s server to display the page you’re looking at. But the problem is, that communication isn’t always secure. Hackers can potentially intercept it and steal your personal information, like passwords or credit card numbers. 

That’s where “https” comes in. The “s” stands for “secure”, and it means that the communication between your browser and the website’s server is encrypted, so nobody can steal your information. So, if you’re ever entering sensitive information on a website (like making a purchase or filling out a form), always make sure the URL starts with “https://” to keep yourself safe and secure. 

So there you have it! I hope this beginner’s guide to common website terminology helps remove some of the intimidation that often comes with building websites. By understanding some of these key terms, you should be better prepared to talk about your website. And hopefully you won’t feel like the new kid coming into class late.

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