One night during a family reunion my cousin and I were stealthily walking about my aunt’s condo, trying to be like ninjas so everyone could remain sleeping. Inevitably, I walked smack dab into the middle of a glass coffee table. My knee hit the corner and of course, I cursed everyone awake. My cousin exclaimed “Now, that’s going to be a hematoma!” 

What the hell is a hematoma? A bruise - in layman’s terms it’s a bruise.

She’s a nurse. And like all industries – they have their manner of speaking which can leave those not in the loop, more than a little confused. Working with website designer and developers, I sometimes find myself in this predicament, needing to get on Google to understand what the guys are saying.

That said - I figured I’d share with you some common terms you may encounter when you’re having a new website designed or an existing site redesigned.  

Here’s the A to Z:

Alt Tags

An alt tag is an HTML attribute used to provide alt-ernate text to an image supposing the web page is unable to display it. It also helps the search engine spiders ‘see’ your image by providing an area where you can describe what the image is.

Application Server

Also known as an appserver – it’s a program that handles all application operations between users and backend business applications or databases used in an organization. By having this program manage other software packages, resources like memory and database access work more efficiently because they don’t have to individually respond directly to requests.

Browser (Web Browser)

When you’re looking at your computer screen and you’ve opened up Google Chrome or Firefox – you’re looking at a browser. A browser is essentially a software application used to locate, retrieve and display content on the World Wide Web. It allows you to “browse” web pages, images, videos, and other files that exist on the net.


A cookie is a message sent to by a web browser by a web server. The browser stores the information and sends it back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.

The purpose of cookies is to identify users and prepare customized web pages for them. So a cookie may contain login or registration information, user preferences, that sort of thing. This info is then packaged as a cookie and sent to your web browser which stores the info for later use. So the next time you visit the same website, your browser will send the cookie to the web server which can use this information to present you with a customized web page. So instead of seeing a generic welcome page, you can see a welcome page with your name on it.

Cross Browser Testing

This is the process of testing your website in different browser configurations to ensure that the site shows well on different browser versions and on differing operating systems.


CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. Developed for use with HTML, it’s a standard for specifying how text and other elements appear on web pages. It gives web site developers and users greater control of how pages are displayed. Using CSS, designers and users can create style sheets that define how different elements appear – such as specifying that all numbered lists appear in italics on a webpage.

Domain Name

It’s the unique name that identifies one or more IP addresses. For example, our domain name represents quite a few IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular web pages. So for the URL the domain name is Because the internet is based on IP addresses, rather than domain names, every web server requires a DNS server to translate domain names into IP addresses.


The Domain Name System (DNS) is a system that translates internet domains into IP numbers. A DNS Server is a server that performs this kind of translation.


A common method of networking computers in a local-area network (LAN), it is one of the most widely implemented LAN standards. There are several types of Ethernet. The 100Base-T supports data transfer rates of 100 Mbps, while the newest version Gigabit Ethernet supports data rates of 1 gigabit per second.


A firewall is a system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. It is a combination of hardware and software that separates the network into two or more parts for security purposes. All messages passing through the firewall are examined and those that do not meet the specified security criteria are blocked.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a common method of exchanging files over the internet.

FTP is a means to login using a username and password into another internet site for the purpose of downloading (retrieving) or uploading (sending) files. There are also Anonymous FTP sites that have established publicly accessible repositories of material that can be obtained by logging in using the account name “anonymous” and typing anything you want into the password field.

FTP was invented and used long before the advent of the World Wide Web and originally was always used from a text-only interface.

Header Tags

The <h1> to <h6> tags are used to define HTML settings. They are commands that specify how headings should be formatted. <h1> defines the largest setting and <h6> defines the smallest heading. 

Home Page

The main page of a website – the home page typically serves as an index or table of contents for the other documents (pages) stored at the site.

Hosting Services

A service provider that offers shared hosting or dedicated hosting of a service or services to a customer. Hosting means there is a computer that is usually a server containing files, data, or programs that another computer can access by means of a network or modem. Hosting services are most often used for hosting web sites.


HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the coding language used to create documents on the World Wide Web. HTML defines the structure and layout of a web document by using tags and attributes. The “hyper” in Hypertext comes from the idea that in HTML you can specify that a block of text is linked to another file on the internet.

IP address

IP stands for Internet Protocol. Every machine on the internet has a unique IP number. An IP address is the identifier for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network that establishes a virtual connection between the destination and the source. IP is something like the postal system. It enables you to address a package and drop it in the system. The TCP/IP establishes a connection between two hosts so they can send messages back and forth.


Java is a network friendly, high-level programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. Java is often used to build larger complex systems that involve several computers interacting across networks, for ex. Transaction processing systems.

Java is a commonly used foundation for developing and delivering content on the web - whether that is software with graphical user interfaces such as editors, audio players, web browsers, etc. or creating programs that run on mobile phones.

By using small Java programs (called ‘applets’), web pages can include numerous functions i.e. animations, calculators and other fun, fancy tricks.


JavaScript is a programming language that enables web authors to create interactive sites. JavaScript can interact with HTML source code, enabling web designers to make sites with more dynamic content.


LAN stands for Local Area Network. It is a computer network limited to the immediate area, typically the same building or floor of a building.


Linux is an open source operating system that runs on a number of hardware platforms. Because it is free and runs on many platforms, including PCs and Macs, Linux has become an extremely popular alternative to proprietary operating systems. The inner workings of Linux are available for anyone to examine and change, so long as they make their changes available to the public. This has resulted in numerous people working on various aspects of Linux and adapting Linux for a wide range of purposes. 

Meta Tag

A Meta tag is a special HTML tag that contains information about a web page that is not displayed to the user. Meta tags provide information about who created the page, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page’s content. Many search engines use this info to build their indexes.


Any time you connect two or more computers together so that they can share resources you have a computer network. Connect two or more networks together and you have an internet.

Open Source Software

Open Source Software refers to software in which the programming code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design totally free of charge. As such users can read it, make changes to it and build new versions of the software – resulting in a collaborative effort in which programmers can improve upon the code and share such changes within the community.


Short for Hypertext Preprocessor, PHP is an open source, server- side, HTML embedded coding language used to create dynamic web pages.


A hardware of software component that adds a specific feature or service to a larger system. For example, Adobe Photoshop has plug-ins that enables you to do more tricks then the software alone can do.


Protocol is an agreed-upon format for transmitting data between two devices. For example, the HTTP protocol defines the format for communication between web browsers and web servers; whereas, the IMAP protocol defines the format for communicating between IMAP email servers and clients.


A router is a device that forwards data packets along networks. A router is connected to at least two networks. Routers spend all their time looking at the source and destination addresses of the packets passing through them and deciding which route to send them on.

Search Engine

Search engines are systems that scout information available on the web, searching for specified keywords and returning a list of documents where the words are present. Examples of search engines include Google, Bing and Yahoo.


Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO is the practice of designing web pages so they rank as high as possible within the organic search results from search engines. Good SEO involves including accurate Meta tag information, creating consistent high-quality content, short load times for web pages and a number of other factors. There is also bad SEO which includes things like link farming or hiding keywords in your web pages – which Google fiercely penalizes.


A server is a computer or software package that manages network resources, providing a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. Servers are often dedicated, meaning that they perform no other task besides their server tasks.


Structure Query Language, SQL is a specialized language for requesting information from a database. Most industrial strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL.


A tag is a basic element of the languages used to create web pages (HTML) and similar languages such as XML. It is a command inserted into a document that specifies how the document should be formatted. Tags also relate to reader created tags where blogs or other content is “tagged” – i.e. assigned a keyword to help searchers find said tagged articles.


The abbreviation stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web. The first part of the URL is a protocol identifier and it indicates what protocol to use, the second part is called a resource name and it specifies the IP address or the domain name where the resource is located.


A virus is a chunk of computer programming code that makes copies of itself without any conscious human intervention. Some viruses do more than simply multiplying themselves, they can display messages, install other software or files, delete software or files, etc.

Web Page

A document on the World Wide Web, every web page is identified by a unique URL.


A location on the World Wide Web. Each web site contains a home page but there may also be additional documents or files on the same site. Typically, all of the pages in a website share the same basic URL, for example and


Wi-fi is the name of a popular wireless networking technology that utilizes radio waves to provide wireless high-speed internet and network connections.


Short of Extensible Markup Language, XML is a widely used system for defining data formats. It allows designers to create their own custom tags, enabling definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and organizations. So long as the programmer has the SML definition for a collection of data, then they can create a program to reliably process any data formatted according to those rules.

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