I hope you have been enjoying our DWS Learning Series! This week we are very lucky to have the brain-power of web developer extraordinaire Nicki McKay. Nicki and I are not only great friends & colleagues but also co-creators of ROOOAR Magazine.

This week Nicki is teaching us all about Web-Speak (nerdy talk).


Common web designer terms

Us web developers love a good acronym, I admit it, maybe a little too much. We don’t set out to bamboozle you, I promise. Often these terms give us headaches too.

It’s really important that when you’re setting out on a web design project that you stretch your brain around these common terms. So to prevent the inevitable ‘eyes glaze over’ state, be armed with some of the most common terms you’ll come across.


This is the program on your computer that you need to open a websites on, and yes they are all different. Most people either see it as a Blue Compass (Safari), a big blue ‘E’ (internet explorer), a fox wrapped around a world (Firefox) or a green, yellow, red & blue pinwheel (Google Chrome).


Often some browsers store images and files on your computer of websites you have visited to save downloading them again, this is known as cache. When testing websites, you’ll often hear the term ‘clear your cache’ so you can see updated changes (which you’ll need to do from the menu of your browser).


CMS stands for ‘Content Management System’. A CMS allows you to edit your website content without having to know how to code.

WYSIWYG editor

‘What You See is What You Get’ is the editor that you will find in a CMS that allows you to apply basic styling to your text. It is the editor that gives you all the heading styles, bold, italic, centered etc. Kind of like a mini version of Microsoft Word.


A ‘Responsive website’ refers to a website that ‘responds’ with the browser device width and serves up a different style to suit. It’s not a different website entirely for mobile users it’s simply a change in styles that are created to make it look the best no matter what size of device you are looking at the site on. I elaborate on responsive web design here.

Back end

The back end is generally the part of the website that is hidden from regular users. For example, your Administration area of your CMS is considered the back end. It can also refer to the heavy lifting programming required to make your website work.

Front end

Front end is the part of the website that your users see, the combination of code, graphics and styles. It’s the pretty stuff.


URL is short for ‘Uniform Resource locators’ – it’s the address to your website files and is used to locate your website.

Domain name

A domain name is the unique URL (or name) that you purchase and reserve for yourself. Eg. nickimckay.com

Web Hosting

Web Hosting is space on a computer (server) that is on 24/7, connected to the internet and stores all the files of your website. It has the appropriate software installed to run your website. A Host is a provider who sells you the hosting.


We love our acronyms (apparently). This stands for Domain Name Systems (or domain name server) this is the server that manages your domain name, if you change hosting you’ll need to change the settings of your DNS.

Open Source

Open source software is software that some awesome people got together and created, they then offer it free for everyone to use with instructions on how to use it.


ISP stands for Internet service provider – the company that you have your internet connected too. For example Optus, Telstra, iiNet etc.


Secure Socket Layers is a method of encryption to allow the passage of data securely between the browser and the website server. This is absolutely essential if you are taking credit card on your website.

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway is a system that has been built specifically for collecting payment from your website securely and processing with the bank. Payment gateways can be provided directly from the bank or third party systems such as eWay or Secure Pay.


Search Engine Optimisation refers to the process of making modifications to your website to increase relevance for search terms and in turn, increase your ranking on search engines such as Google.


Search Engine Marketing refers to the paid internet marketing. This includes paid advertising you see generally at the top of Google Search’s and to the right of the search results.


File Transfer Protocol, a programming language that allows you to connect to your web server and upload/download files. Generally your host will provide you with login details to access your files for us to get access too.


Nicki Mckay is a Brisbane based web designer, developer & digital strategist. She collaborates with inspired entrepreneurs to help bring online visions to life.



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