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Web Glossary

We know how confusing some of the terminology used in the web business can be to those who don't work in the field. With that in mind, we've put together a basic glossary to help you understand what these words and phrases mean. If there's some web-related word or phrase you don't understand and don't see it here, drop us a line and we'll help clear it up for you.

Bandwidth: The amount of computer resources used by a website.

Browser: The software program you use to surf the Web. The most common browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface): CGI scripts can be written in any language, and are used by a website to accomplish actions that otherwise would be difficult or impossible with just HTML.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): CSS is a style sheet language used to describe the presentation of the content on a website. It can control where things are located, how text looks, etc.

Disk Space: The amount of space your website is using on the hosting company's computer.

Domain: Also referred to as web address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator), this is your website's location on the Internet.

DS3: This abbreviation stands for Digital Signal level 3, an Internet transmission method capable of speeds of 44.736Mbps.

Electronic Commerce: Also called ecommerce, this refers to the buying or selling of products electronically.

FAQs: This popular term stands for Frequently Asked Questions. Many companies include an FAQ page on their website.

Gigabit Ethernet: A network transmission method capable of speeds of 1,000Mbps.

Hosting: This is the process of holding the files needed for a website on a server computer connected to the Internet. In essence, you rent space on the hosting company's server and pay them on either a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

HTML: Usually pronounced hitmul, this abbreviation stands for HyperText Markup Language. This is the computer "language" used to create websites.

Internet: A huge conglomeration of computers connected by an electronic superhighway for the purpose of exchanging data worldwide.

ISP (Internet Service Provider): A company that provides consumers and businesses with Internet access and/or web hosting.

Mbps: This abbreviation stands for Megabits per second. A bit is a single binary digit (1 or 0) which is the native language of computers. A megabit is approximately a million bits of information. Mbps is a measure of digital transmission speed.

Meta Tags: Part of the HTML used to build a website. They're sets of words describing key features and characteristics of your website. Search engines used to rely heavily on your meta tags, but that's less true today. Even still, iit's important your web designer knows how to use them effectively.

MySQL: A client-server SQL database and language popular for use on the World Wide Web.

OC3: This is the abbreviation for Optical Carrier level 3, an Internet transmission method capable of speeds of 155.52Mbps.

Open Source: Software which includes its source code along with the program itself.

PHP: This abbreviation stands for PHP Hypertext Processor, an open source general purpose scripting language specially suited for web development. It can be embedded in HTML.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO means to optomize your site so it shows up fairly high in search engines' rankings. There are a lot of companies out there offering to do SEO and charging quite a bit for their service. If any claims to promise you top-10 placement, run, don't walk away. Google, the only search engine that really matters, works diligently to ignore gimmicks to boost rankings. These days, the three most important factors Google looks at are:

  1. Popularity, calculated by how many other legitimate sites link to yours (link farm sites — sites that are just filled with links — don't work),
  2. Timeliness, calculated by how current your site is (and why it's good to regularly update your site), and
  3. Content, where you need to be sure to include your 'key words' and terms you think people might use to search for your site throughout the body text on the site (remember, this must be 'readable' text, not text within graphic images).

Search Engines: Programs/websites that enable you to search for information on the Internet. Each engine has its own method for indexing websites so various engines may produce different results from the same search. Google is still, by far, the most popular. Yahoo! comes in a distant number two and is really a hybrid — part search engine and part directory, like the Yellow Pages. Coming in third, and barely registering, is Bing. For those not happy with their searches being used and sold, there's DuckDuckGo, a relatively new search engine that emphasizes privacy and doesn't record your info. There used to be a lot more, but they've been bought and folded into others.

Security Certificate: An electronic "certificate" designed to authenticate a web server. Such authentication is meant to prove to your web browser the server is what/who it says it is. Security certificates are generally used to initiate encrypted sessions with web servers. Once the server has "proved" its identity with a certificate, further electronic traffic with that server is encrypted. This allows you to do things like enter a credit card number on a website without hackers being able to intercept the number when you transmit it.

Server: A fast, high-powered computer designed to serve up data to a network of computers. Your website sits on one of your hosting company's Internet servers. At Quill & Mouse Studios, our servers use the Linux operating system--the most secure and safe servers available.

Shopping Cart: A program providing ecommerce websites with a virtual shopping cart, allowing customers to view, add, and delete items before making their electronic purchase.

Source Code: The English-like text that programmers type in to create programs. Once they've entered in the source code, programs are usually "compiled," which converts the source code into binary language a computer can understand.

SQL: This abbreviation stands for Structured Query Language, a standardized language primarily used for querying databases of all types.

SSI: This abbreviation stands for Server Side Includes. These are commands generally embedded in HTML which direct a web server to do certain actions. By contrast, although languages like PHP can also be embedded in HTML, they're aimed at influencing browser behavior, rather than the behavior of the web server.

SSL: This abbreviation stands for Secure Socket Layer. This is the technology that handles authentication and data encryption between a Web browser and a Web server. If you're going to accept personal information like credit cards, you should provide your website users with this security. This also requires obtaining a Security Certificate.

URL: This abbreviation stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is your website's location on the Internet.

Web Designer/Developer: This is the person or company that designs and creates your website. This is also usually the person or company who maintains your website, making any needed changes or updates.

Web Page: There is no hard and fast definition of a web page. Some people call the portion of a website that fits on a screen a "web page," but this is more accurately called a screen page. Others refer to each HTML file as a "web page" and this is the meaning we use.




©2003-12 Quill & Mouse Studios, Inc.          Last updated: 05/07/12