Decoding IT and Web Jargon

As small business owner you wear many hats. Which means learning about tasks, programs and processes, you have likely never encountered before.

One of these new areas is likely IT and web. After all there are very few companies who do not use computers or have a web presence. But the world of IT can be a little intimidating if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.

To help you navigate the jargon, buzzwords and acronyms used by those in the know, here is an A-Z of the terms used every day in software, hardware, security, analytics, web development and much more.

  1. Above the Fold. An older web term that refers to the part of a web page that is visible in the user’s browser on a desktop computer, without scrolling down. It is a term that is becoming less relevant, and is a good flag for a designer whose knowledge that might be dated.
  2. Application. Simply another name for a computer program like Word, Excel, Google Chrome etc.
  3. Authentication. The process of proving you are who you say you are. Usually a username and password, sometimes with secret questions.
  4. Auto Responder. An automated email generated from a program or system.
  5. Back End. The computer system that the user does not see, but that powers the hardware or software. Front end refers to the public facing website that users interact with directly.
  6. Bandwidth. The amount of data that can be carried from one point to another, in a defined amount of time. Normally measured in bits per second. Mostly used when measuring the speed of your internet.
  7. Boot. To start a computer, using the power button. Restarting a computer is called ‘rebooting’.
  8. Bounce. Refers to an email message that is undeliverable. This can be because of an incorrect address, the recipient’s server is not working, the recipient’s mailbox is full, or your email may be blocked.
  9. Bounce Rate. The percentage of visitors to your website who view a single page then leave immediately rather than continue to view other pages.
  10. Broken Link. A link on a website which generates an error or goes to an incorrect page.
  11. Browser. The computer application that you use to access the internet, such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera
  12. Bug. Generic term for an error, mistake of problem that means a program or website is not behaving as expected.
  13. Call To Action (CTA). A button, word, phrase or image that inspires you to take an action.
  14. Click-Through Rate (CTR). The number of times a link is clicked and viewed. Normally reviewed to assess a return on investment.
  15. The Cloud. Cloud hosting or cloud computing, refers to a server that can be located across many physical servers in different locations. It enables you to avoid the infrastructure costs of a physical server for your business and can be useful if you suddenly have more users and need more capacity during certain time periods.
  16. Content Management System. A web content database application that lets you create, edit, publish and delete content on a website, without the need for specialist technical skills.
  17. Control Panel. The website interface with a hosting company that allows you to manage your hosted systems such as email and your website in a single place.
  18. Conversion. The same as its offline marketing counterpart, this refers to the number of people or visitors you have convinced to take an action, this is measured in a percentage and called the conversion rate.
  19. Cookies. A cookie allows the tracking and recording of data about a user that visits a website that issues cookies. They are electronic tags that are deposited automatically.
  20. Cybersquatting. Also known as Domain Squatting, it is the practice of someone buying a domain name with the intent to resell it or prevent someone else from using it.
  21. (Distributed) Denial-of-Service Attack. A hacking attack to make a computer or a network unavailable to users. It generally related to a hacker blocking access to a website.
  22. Direct Access Attack. Where an unauthorized person gains physical access to a computer, device or network to destroy or steal data
  23. DNS (Domain Names System). Your IP Address is a string of numbers that tells the user the physical address of your website, think of it as your business postal code. Your domain name is the friendly easy to remember name of your website. A DNS links your Domain Name with a numerical IP addresses together, so users only have to remember the name.
  24. Encryption. When data is encoded and decoded to prevent unauthorized access to information. For example, sending payment details from a payment processor to the bank.
  25. Firewall. A device or software that helps prevent hackers and viruses trying to reach your website or computer system.
  26. FTP (File Transfer Protocol). An internet tool that allows users to transfer files between two computers over the internet. For example, uploading brochure documents to a website
  27. Hosting. Web hosts are companies that provide a space on a server to lease, where you can store your website. Dedicated web hosting, refers to when you exclusively lease an entire server, normally when you have a large and popular website.
  28. HTML. The code that tells the web page what it should like, through a series of tags and attributes.
  29. HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). A defined procedure that defines what actions web servers and browsers should take in response to commands. For example, when a user enters your URL into a browser, the HTTP command tells the web server to fetch and display that page.
  30. Inbound Links. Text that is hyperlinked to direct users from one site to another. Also known as Back Links. Used a lot when speaking about SEO, these links are important to determining the popularity and importance of your website by Google.
  31. Internet Service Provider (ISP). A company that provides access to the internet, normally for a monthly fee.
  32. Intranet. An internal website that is used by staff or those within a private network.
  33. Open Source. Software whose creators make their source code available for free and is enabled to be modified by others.
  34. JavaScript. A programming language that is used to create interactive objects on websites. For example, JavaScript causes a link to appear as a pop-up or a graphic to change when your scroll over it.
  35. Landing Page. Stand-alone web pages created specifically for a marketing campaign that tell the user to take a specific action, such as to sign-up for a newsletter, buy a product or register for an event. They are used to limit the options available to the user and guide them to take that one action.
  36. Malware. Short for malicious software. It refers to a program designed to damage a computer system with viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware.
  37. Metadata. Data that describes what other data is. For example an image’s metadata will include the size, resolution, when it was created, and the words associated with it. Text metadata will include who long the document is, who the author is, when it was written and a short summary about what it’s about. Metadata and metatags are important for SEO as it is what search engines look at when indexing your website.
  38. Phishing. A scam where emails that appear to come from legitimate websites ask you for personal information, often relating to banking.
  39. Plugin. Software that adds extra features to an existing program. For example, a Photoshop plugin that lets you add more filters to manipulate images, or a WordPress e-commerce plugin that lets you sell products on your site.
  40. Redirect. A URL redirect is a way to send users to a different page, to the one they originally requested. This can be used if a page no longer exists or is out of date.
  41. Responsive Web Design. A type of web design that intends to provide the optimal experience no matter what device you are viewing a site from. This has been particularly important since Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm was rolled out in April 2015.
  42. Router. A device that connects two or more networks between your computer network and the internet.
  43. Spam. A colloquial term for electronic junk mail or unsolicited social media messages.
  44. Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The page of results which is displayed after you have typed a query into a search engine like Google.
  45. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). A protocol to encode and transmit documents across the internet. The procedure asks the web browser to identify itself and asks for a copy of the SSL certificate. Once acknowledged the encrypted session can commence. Commonly used when transmitting financial or personal information to a company.
  46. Source Code. Program instructions written in a human readable programming language.
  47. Traffic. Refers to the number of visitors to your website and how often they visit. Often tracked in programs such as Google Analytics.
  48. Top Level Domain (TLD). Relates to the suffix at the end of your domain name, for example the .ca in Other TLD’s include .com, .gov, .org, .net.
  49. UI/UX Design. UI design refers to a webpage layout that users can easily interact with. UX design refers to the experience a web design provides users.
  50. Uniques. A measurement used in web analytics of the number of individuals visiting a website, once or for multiple visits. This differs from page views, which measures the number of pages that are visited by multiple users. Remember, however, that one visitor who uses multiple devices will be counted as a unique visitors for each device.
  51. URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Your website’s address for example
  52. VPN (Virtual Private Network). A private network that can be accessed securely across the internet using encryption and/or authentication.
  53. Wireframe. A visual guide or blueprint that enables you to the see the layout of a website before it is built. Used during the design process, it enables you to understand where the menus, content and apps will be located on each type of page on a website.