Want to brush up on your web lingo? We’ve compiled a list of commonly used terms, many of which have been simplified to their core meaning. Words with a * are to help you develop a relationship with the IT team so that you can better speak their language, thus enabling you to get your projects pushed through the queue faster. To that end, I also recommend familiarizing yourself with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Douglas Adams.
app — a smaller, less robust version of a more fully developed application. Usually an app has an application equivalent, e.g., the Facebook app for the iPhone, which allows a user to access Facebook from a mobile device but which does not have the full functionality of accessing Facebook via the web.
bandwidth — rate of or capacity for data transfer, measured in bits per second. Also used as slang to indicate how much work or knowledge one can handle: “I can’t learn anymore vocab words – I’m out of bandwidth.”
banner ad — the horizontal ad that goes across the top of a website. These are generally more expensive than tower ads, due to their prominent placement.
black hat — refers to a person or action on the web that is unethical, such as hacking for personal gain. The origin goes back to old films where bad guys wore black hats. See also white hat.
black hole — a site that links largely to its own pages and/or blocks links to and from itself from being tracked, thus increasing its own SEO and not adding to any SEO “juice” to outside sites.
blog — a contraction of the term “web log,” a blog is a website maintained by an individual or individuals who regularly add written commentary, graphics, or video (see vlog), much like an online journal or diary. “Blog” is now also used as a verb, as in “I blog about my cat on Fridays.”
bounce rate — the measurement of the number of users who view only one page of a website before leaving (“bouncing”). Google analytics specialist Avinash Kaushik has stated, “It is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.”
byte – the base unit for file sizes. Most files are now measured in either kilobytes (1k or 1,000 bytes, the rough equivalent to three text-only email messages), megabytes (1 MB [“meg”] or 1,000 kilobytes, or 1,000,000 bytes, the electronic equivalent of a 500-page book), or gigabyte (1GB [“gig”] or 1,000 megabytes, or 1,000,000,000 bytes; the original Blu-ray disc introduced in 2006 could hold 50 GB).
CPI (cost per impression) — the value of e-marketing campaigns based on how many times a banner, text link, etc., loads on users’ pages, often measured in CPM.
crowdsourcing — the act of using the interactive web as an open-call forum to assign to a mass of people a task that would normally be carried out by an individual/employee/contractor. Ex: requesting information in an online forum (“Anyone here know who Natalie Portman’s agent is and how I can reach her?”)
CSS (cascading style sheets) — a form of website code used to separate the content of a web document (usually written in HTML) from the presentation (color, fonts, layout).
CTR (click-through rate) — calculates success of an online advertising campaign by dividing ad clicks by ad impressions.
Flash — a popular multimedia platform that allows for increased user interaction and animation on a website. Macromedia created the technology, which was later purchased by Adobe. Because it has little SEO value, Flash content is no longer as popular as it once was.
foo* — a nonsense word that acts as a placeholder name, often used by programmers to represent a variable. Consider it the algebraic equivalent of X, and its successors bar and baz the equivalents of Y and Z. Ex: foo + bar = baz
FTP (file transfer protocol) — a method by which files are uploaded and downloaded on the Internet. This is an especially useful method for large files, which are then deposited on a server for access by other users, rather than sending them via email.
gigabyte – 1 billion bytes (approximately).
Google bomb* — SEO manipulation by embedding links that lead to unrelated sites, often in the name of humor. The most popular (and possibly first) example of Google bombing was when a now-defunct online humor magazine linked some derogatory words to a website selling George W. Bush-related merchandise. This caused a Google search for the term to display the store as the first search result.
GUI (graphical user interface) — a method by which humans interact with computers via images rather than text. Apple is said to have invented this interface with its use of icons, which Microsoft then went on to appropriate and use as the basis for its now ubiquitous Windows platform.
impression — see pageview.
indexing — the synchronization of a database so that the information is both organized and readily accessible to users. Ex: The website indexes nightly, so any new entries are searchable the following day.
information architecture (IA) — The logical organization of information for a website, both on the front end (user facing) and back end. An information architect might make such decisions as what categories to break the content into, how the navigation will work and what it will look like, and how the CMS will be structured.
keywords — a type of meta data that includes words and phrases by which a piece of data (or webpage) can be classified. Keywords are one of the key building blocks of Web 3.0, and are most often used in searches.
meta data — the “data that describes data.” All the information on a webpage is considered data, and there is a way to codify and classify it, which is through meta data. Examples include keywords to classify a blog post or geocodes to pinpoint the location where a photo was taken.
pageview — (also page view, impression) the loading of a single page of a website. The term is often used to measure website traffic and, therefore, success. See also unique visitor.
PHP — originally known as “Personal Home Page,” PHP is a scripting language that creates dynamic (as opposed to static) web pages. The free software is used by such sites as Facebook, Wikipedia, and WordPress.
rickroll* – to create a misleading hyperlink that sends a user to a webpage with Rick Astley content, usually the song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The trend culminated on April Fool’s Day 2008, with several major organizations, including YouTube, Fark.com, LiveJournal, and others rickrolling a large majority of their homepage links.
ROI (return on investment) — a common marketing and business term, ROI has become lauded during the web age as it is the first time in history that true ROI can be tracked for marketing purposes, e.g., number of pageviews of a tower ad (versus how many people read a magazine advertisement)
SEM (search engine marketing) — the overall effort to make sure that your website is seen as high up in search results as possible. This can be accomplished by the way the site is written (see SEO) and through paid placement.
SEO (search engine optimization) — one aspect of SEM; SEO means writing the content for your site in such a way that you maximize the chances it will appear high in search results.
sitemap — a webpage that represents the structure (IA) of a site, useful both for navigation and in improving SEO. Ex: http://www.apple.com/sitemap is a fabulous example of a neatly organized and readable sitemap.
streaming — a method of viewing audio or video content online without downloading files, widely practiced via YouTube, iTunes, radio websites, etc. A smooth stream is dependent upon bandwidth and buffering capabilities.
tower ad — the long vertical ad on the sides of most commercial websites. Tower ads are generally cheaper than banner ads, due to their placement.
UGC (user-generated content) — also known as Consumer Generated Media, UGC is any kind of media content that is generated by a body of users, most commonly the general public and not employees of a site. Some well-known examples are Wikipedia (or any Wiki site), Yelp, and even message boards.
unique visitor — describes number of visitors (“uniques”) to a website, counting each just once as opposed to total hits; especially relevant for advertising. See also pageview.
user interface (UI) — the means by which people (users) interact with computer systems. See also GUI.
white hat — refers to a person or action on the web that is ethical, such as hacking one’s own site to test security breaches. The origin goes back to old films where good guys wore white hats. See also black hat.
wiki — a web page or pages that any authorized user can contribute to or modify. Wikipedia is the best-known example, but there are thousands of wikis, including internal wikis used for employee communication. The term comes from the Hawaiian word for “fast.”
vlog — a contraction of “video log,” a vlog is essentially a blog that uses the video medium within the blog or provides a link to video.