Web Development Glossary

Common web development buzzwords defined in simple terms.


.htaccess (hypertext access) is a hidden text file that can exists on websites running on Apache web servers. It can reside in any directory for you to configure and control how web pages are served. You can configure many things in this file includingURL structures, page redirects, security, caching and more.

404 Page


An alt tag, also referred to as alt text is an attribute of an HTML image element. It is used to describe and image in situations where the “user can not see the image. For example, search engines and impaired accessibility readers will use alt tags to understand what the image is about.


In programming an API is an Application Programming Interface. An API enables software on two different computers to communicate with each other. The two different computers do not need to be on the same operating system, or programming language. It is a way to be able to send and receive data through the two systems. Communication is the key purpose.

Back End

Back end in web development refers to the parts of a website that a user does not see. It includes server side source code that generates web pages, the database – basically all of the logic involved so a user can see an interact through the front end of a website. A back end web developer writes the programming logic to communicate with databases and build functional logic into a website.

Breakpoints/Media Queries

Browser Cache

A cache is a “container” to store something. With a website, a browser cache refers to storing files locally in your browser. When you visit a website your web browser will store files like images, CSS (web page style definitions) locally on your computer’s hard drive. The next time you visit a web page, your browser can then pull these files locally, and faster than requesting them off of the Internet.



Client Side

Client side is a web development term that refers to where code runs. A client is a web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge…) Code like JavaScript is executed locally in a users web browser and is an example of client side scripting. The opposite of this is server side where code is executed on the computer the website code resides and then is delivered to the client.


Content Management System

A content management system (aka CMS) is a software application that separates the code and content to make it easier to manage content. Using browser based tools you can add , edit pages, products, photo galleries – just about anything without needing a web developer to do it for you. You need a web developer to install, configure



CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It is a scripting language used in conjunction with HTML to add styles to elements to define how a web page looks. It is the standard used to define how your web pages look because it is easy to use and maintain, streamlines HTML code by separating it into other files and enables you to reuse the same defined code across all pages on a website for consistency and efficiency when building a web page.


Dynamic Website

Dynamic websites change. Web pages are created on the server side and then delivered to your web browser. Dynamic websites are typically database driven. Content is stored in the database and added to the page when a page is requested. An example of a dynamic website would be a blog. When you add a new post, a dynamic page could automatically include this new content on the web page without having to edit HTML to include it.



FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. In simple terms, it is a way to move files that reside on a network. When a web developer writes code to build a website, typically they work on a local machine (ie desktop, laptop) and then move files onto the web server for the code to then load on the website. As a web developer, I will always ask for FTP access (username, password and host string) in order to be able to work on your website.

Home Page

The home page of a website is the “front page”, “starting point” or top level page of a website. You access a home page when you type in a domain name without any file name. i.e. www.domainname.com


HTML stands for hyper text markup language. It is the standard language used to mark up text to build web pages.


HTTP in an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is the protocol used to deliver web pages from a server to a web browser. HTTPs is the secure version of HTTP, transmitting data securely.


Javascript is a scripting language used to build web pages. Javascript is executed in your web browser, also refer to as client side. Javascript can manipulate content once it is sent to the web browser, vs server side scripting that is done before content is sent to the web browser.


LAMP is an acronym in the field of website development that refers to the collection of software used for web development. Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), MySQL (database) and PHP (programming language)

Meta Tags

Meta data is data that describes other data. Meta tags on a web page are used to include data about the web page, but not a visual part of the actual web page. Search engines use meta data to better understand what a web page is about. The most common tags that you may hear about are page title, meta description and meta keywords. There are hundreds of possible tags to use though. Read more about meta tags on websites here.

Mobile Friendly

A website that is mobile friendly means that code is written to make a web page adjust to the size of the device it is being viewed on. Some things that are obvious would be a navigation menu changes on a small screen, and rows of database get changed to display in a column so the font size is still easily readable without having to pinch and zoom a web page.

Open Source Software

Open source software enables you to download the code base at no cost and modify it in any way you want. It is freely available to the public. The opposite of this is closed source or proprietary software. The source code is not accessible to modify. Free is not a factor here, closed source can be paid or free.

Page Speed

Page Speed

Page Template


Schema Markup

Secure Certificate

On a high level, a secure certificate, or SSL certificate is file that includes data in it that authenticates a website/domain’s owner along with encrypting data that is submitted through the website. This file is installed on a web hosting account. Web browsers check the validity of it and display a locked padlock if the certificate is good, and a broken padlock if something is not right.

Server Caching

Server Side

The computer that website code resides on is called a web server. Anything related to this computer is referenced as server side. Opposite of this is client side. Client side refers to your web browser.

Server Side Scripting

Server side scripting refers to programming logic that is executed on the web server where the website code resides. PHP is a very popular server side scripting language. The opposite of server side is client side. Javascript is an example of client side scripting language. Your web browser is the client, so Javascript is able to execute from your web browser, while PHP code is only executed when you submit a button or click on a link to load a web page.


Software license

A software license is a legal document that defines terms of use and how you can distribute software. It protects the developer of the software and the end user. Definition of how it can be used ranges from open source – which defines that it can be freely used, modified and shared, to proprietary which may not be modified or shared and include subscription or one time fees.

Static Website

The term static website refers to web pages that are built with HTML/CSS/JS exactly as you see them. There is no code logic to make the page display different when it is requested. The opposite of this is a dynamic website. With a dynamic website the web page is not created until you type the URL into your browser. Content potentially changes each time the page is loaded. A static web page could be compared to a printed page in a book.





Web Page

Website Audit

White Screen of Death

On a web page (often referenced on WordPress websites), the white screen of death is simply a blank white page with nothing on it. When you see a white screen it means that there is a significant error that causes the application to fail. These types of errors are also referred to fatal errors. Just because its fatal, doesn’t mean your website is dead and can not be fixed. Fixing a fatal error can be as simple fixing a syntax code error, or as complicated as code incompatibilities.


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