A website provides a primary hub for shoppers to learn about businesses and take next steps such as booking an appointment or making a purchase. Improved platforms and tools have simplified site creation and management in recent years; however, technical terms can still be confusing to understand (and especially explain to other members of your team.) 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 that visitors use to locate your website – your site’s primary URL. For example, our website’s domain is gotomanmarketing.com.
Domains can typically be purchased directly through the platform on which the site is being built or can be purchased separately through a vendor such as GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domains typically need to be renewed annually in order to maintain access to that address.
Multiple domains can be purchased and directed to the same website. For example, entering either gotomanmarketing.com or go-tomanmarketing.com will direct a visitor to the same website.
DNS translates a text-based domain name such as gotomanmarketing.com to the numerical IP address on which the website is accessible. This eliminates the need for the average visitor to need to memorize a string of alphanumeric characters. When a new website is created or the business switches hosting providers, developers will access the DNS in order to point the domain to the new site’s IP address.
Web hosting stores your website’s files and makes them accessible to the average site visitor. It’s essentially renting space on a vendor’s servers. Hosting needs are dependent on the type of website and its anticipated traffic though generally speaking, you’ll want to seek a reliable hosting vendor that can deliver on both speed and reliability.
CMS is an acronym for content management system. This software assists in more easily building and managing a website as opposed to 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 with WordPress being the most common example. 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 choose to download only the plugins you want for your site’s particular needs. Also similarly, plugins are generally free though others do require a subscription or one-time cost. Lastly, plugins are often updated to improve functionality and/or security so it’s recommended to “auto-enable” plugin updates or regularly check installed plugins as applicable.
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 to understand, especially for those whose skills and 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 business’s web presence. If there are additional terms you struggle with, feel free to contact us so we can continue adding to this guide!