From d12 Web Design Manuals
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Most of the items on this list are things you'll never need to worry about. We're just providing a quick definition if you run into these terms and wonder what they are.



Open source software used to run a web server.


"Active Server Pages"—a type of web technology developed by Microsoft. We use PHP, instead, which is open source.


A type of website which allows you to make regular updates (called posts) which show up as separate pages. Short for web log, blogs originated as online journals. Blogs can be used for many other purposes however, such as publicizing special events or promotions.

case sensitive

A situation where the lowercase and uppercase versions of a letter are considered different letters. See Case Sensitive for more information and examples.


A program, usually written in Perl or Python, that carries out certain behind-the-scenes tasks on a website, such as taking the contents of a form and mailing it to someone.


A content-management system is a piece of software that handles the tasks of creating the HTML files needed to create a web site. Since a good CMS handles all the technical aspects of creating a website, you are left free to create content. There are many CMS's out there, some better than others. We like to use WordPress, GetSimple, DokuWiki, and MediaWiki.


A comment is feedback that visitors to your site leave on a particular page or posts. There are various ways to control this, from not permitting visitors to comment at all to allowing anyone to create a comment without any sort of moderation. This can often lead to lots of spam.

Creative Commons

A type of license that allows limited use of somebody else's work. If you use someone else's work that is released under a Creative Commons license, you generally need to release it under the same or similar kind of license. You can read more here.


CSS stands for "cascading style sheets". It is a scripting language the controls the appearance, but neither the content nor behavior, of a web page, although it does have some limited abilities to handle animations.


A domain is simple the web address of a web site. The domain name for d12 Web Design and Development is "".

domain name

The same as a domain.


To transfer a file from some other computer to yours. When you save a picture from a website, you are downloading that picture. The opposite of uploading a file.


"End Use License Agreement": the rules regarding how you may use a piece of software which you have purchased or downloaded.



A type of web site where people can post questions or short statements and others can respond to them. Each question is maintained in a "thread" with the original poster (OP) at the top, and then responses in chronological order as you scroll down the page. Reddit maintains a science forum here.


"Free and Open Source" describes software that is both free to use, study, copy, and change, and that the source is openly available so that people can work collaboratively to improve it.


"File Transfer Protocol" is a way of transferring files from your computer to your web server. It requires the use of special software, called an ftp client that facilitates the transfer. When you use FTP, you are uploading files to your server.


"Graphic Interchange Format" a type of image format that can contain a maximum of 256 colors. You really want to avoid using these on a web site. Instead, you should use jpg or png. You can read more about this on Wikipedia.


A FOSS image-editing program, similar to Photoshop. You can download it from here.


A licensing system similar to Creative Commons. You can read more about it here.


The company that owns the actual servers that your website is stored on.


A special file used by Apache web servers to control different aspects of your web site.


"Hypertext Markup Language" is the scripting language that web pages are written in. Hypertext means that they can contain clickable links to other web pages.


"Hypertext Transfer Protocol" is the way a browser and a server communicate.


A secure form of HTTP.


A scripting language that can control the behavior of parts of your web site.


A type of image format that can contain more than 256 colors. It is preferable to gif for images.


A server-side database that most CMS's need in order to operate.


open source

A type of software show source code is publicly available, meaning that can download it and alter it to serve your needs. The most popular open source programs often have large groups of collaborators constantly working to improve the software.


In general, a location on the web with a unique URL.

In WordPress, a page is a location with fairly static content and a link to which appears in a menu. It is not the same as a post. See Pages vs Posts for more information.


A type of image format which, like gif supports transparency, but which like jpg supports more than 256 colors. It is often used on the web for icons and backgrounds.


An entry in a blog. Posts generally contain the author and date they were published. See Pages vs Posts for more information.

public domain

Material whose copyright has expired, or whose creator has released it without copyright. Unlike copyrighted material, you are free to use public domain material on your website.



"Search Engine Optimization" is the process of making your web site easier for a search engine to crawl and find. It is the subject of some controversy.

search engine

A web site that crawls over the web and indexes what it finds. User can then type in a search query and get back a list of (hopefully) relevant sites. Google is perhaps the best known search engine at the present.


A server-side technology is one that exists and acts on a web server, rather than on a client's browser. The opposite of client-side.

social media

Websites which allow people to post their interests and interact with others. Typical examples include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Unwanted attention from people who are trying to deceive you, your visitors, or search engines for the purpose of making money or stealing your identity. If you have an email account, you are going to get email spam. If you allow comments on your blog, you will get comment spam. There are various ways to control this.


A smaller version of an image included on a web page and which links to the full-size version of the image. Should a visitor want to see the full-size image, they can simply click on the thumbnail. The purpose of using thumbnails is to save bandwidth and help web pages load faster. Most CMS's, such as WordPress create thumbnails automatically.

top-level domain

What comes after the last dot in a domain name. The most common top-level domains in the United States are .com, .org, .net, and .edu. There are also country-specific top-level domains, such as .mx for Mexico, .ca for Canada, and .uk for the United Kingdom. New top-level domains have recently become available, although they are expensive.


"Terms of Service" is a tacit understanding you agree to in order to use a website or web service. Nobody ever reads these, but you should. You can read our TOS here.


To transfer a file from your computer to another. Generally, this is accomplished in one of two ways. The first involves uploading a file via a form. The second involves using an #ftp client to upload files to your webserver. The opposite of downloading


"Universal Resource Locator" is the address of a web page. It appears in the address bar of a web browser.

File:Glossary - d12 Web Design Manuals 2014-05-05 13-39-58.png
The URL of this page as it appears in the Firefox address bar.


As we use the term here at d12 Web Design, a user is a person who has the ability to log into your website and create or edit content. Contrast this with visitor.


As we use the term here at d12 Web Design, a visitor is a person who does not have the ability to log into your website. They can view content your and users create, but they cannot create their own content. They may, however, be able to comment on your content if you allow it.