Website Terms to Know

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A website provides a primary hub for shoppers to learn about your business and take the next steps such as booking an appointment or making a purchase. Improved platforms have simplified site creation and management in recent years though technical terms can still be confusing to understand or explain.

This guide aims to demystify the jargon and empower you to have more insightful conversations regarding your business’s website.


A domain is a text-based address visitors use to locate your website – your site’s primary URL. For example, our website’s domain is

Domains can often be purchased directly through the site platform or separately through a vendor such as GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domains must be continually renewed (often yearly) to maintain access to that address.

Multiple domains can be purchased and directed to the same website. For example, entering or will direct visitors to the same website.


DNS translates a domain name such as to the numerical IP address on which the website is accessible. This eliminates the need for the average visitor to memorize a string of alphanumeric characters. When a new website is created or the business switches hosting providers, developers will access the DNS to point the domain to the new site’s IP address.


Web hosting stores your website’s files and makes them accessible to visitors. It’s essentially renting space on a vendor’s servers. Your hosting needs will depend on the type of website and its anticipated traffic though you’ll want to seek a reliable vendor that can deliver on both speed and reliability.

Fast and reliable hosting improves visitors’ experience and influences your website’s visibility on search engines. Our favorite hosting vendor for performance is WPEngine*. Bluehost is a fair alternative offering somewhat cheaper plans.


CMS is an acronym for content management system. This software assists in easily building and managing a website instead of directly coding its content (which requires a skilled web developer.) WordPress and Wix are examples of commonly used CMSs.


Many website CMSs offer plugins to enhance their standard capabilities. Plugins are similar to a smartphone’s apps – they aren’t required to perform basic operations, but offer additional functionality beyond what comes “out of the box.” Like apps, you can download only the plugins required for your site’s particular needs.

Plugins are generally free though some require a subscription or one-time cost. All plugins are updated periodically to improve functionality and security so it’s recommended to “auto-enable” plugin updates or regularly check installed plugins.

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate provides a safer experience for your website by encrypting and securing data. SSL certificates can typically be obtained for free through your hosting provider or a third-party vendor. URLs of sites with SSL enabled will begin with “https”.


Website terminology can be complex, especially for those whose skills/roles aren’t directly related to web development. However, a basic understanding of these terms and acronyms can prove useful in communicating with developers and properly maintaining your web presence. If there are additional terms you struggle with, feel free to contact us so we can continue adding to this guide!

Picture of Taylor Brown
Taylor Brown

Taylor is the owner & digital strategist of Go-To Man Marketing. With a passion for digital marketing and analytics, he's helped clients to grow their businesses for more than a decade.

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