The Web Development Dictionary

The Web Development Dictionary

Let’s just go ahead and call out the elephant in the room: it’s been an embarrassingly long time since my last post on the blog. Like 7 whole weeks long. Yikes.

The long story short is there’s been a lot going on over here in the last two months. I spent the last 2 weeks of October exploring China on a service trip with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. (More on that later, but in the meantime you can check out some of the photos from that incredible trip.) Within days of returning to US soil my family was in town for a week-long visit.

Before I knew it, it was the week of Thanksgiving. Which, when you’re married to a teacher, means a week off of school. Which means a week of husband hanging out at your office (read: home). Which means no work gets done.

I had big dreams of being ultra-prepared — of pre-writing and scheduling blog posts for all the weeks I knew I’d be gone or busy. But let’s face it, how often do we actually do the things we plan to do? In reality, I spent the week before China running around town in search of plastic ponchos, bungie cords, and all of the other packing list items that I waited until the last minute to buy.

Sooo…here we are. Seven weeks later. And with that I’m going to jump right into this week’s blog post. I’m bringing back a series I started back in September: The Web Dictionary series. Part 1 in the series was The Web Design Dictionary. Today I’m picking up right where we left off with Part 2: The Web Development Dictionary. Enjoy!

A Non-Developer’s Guide to Web Development Terms

Back End

The back end is the admin area of a website that allows you to control the site’s settings. The back end is hidden from regular visitors. Only site administrators who are logged in can access this admin area.


A browser (or web browser) is a software that is used to access the internet and view websites. Some popular browsers include Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera.


Caching is a web technology that is used to make web pages load faster. The first time a you load a web page, the file is pulled directly from the web server. Then the browser saves a copy of the page so that the page loads faster the next time you visit that page.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

CSS defines the design of a website. For example, CSS describes the font, color, background, width, height, position, etc. of an HTML element.

Content Management System (CMS)

A CMS is a database-driven software that for managing a website’s content. It allows you to create, edit, and organize the content of your website through a central interface that’s accessible through an internet browser. Using a CMS also makes it easier for people who aren’t developers to manage a website without learning lots of code. Some populars CMSs are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Squarespace.


A domain name is an address where you can be found on the internet (ex, Domain names can have a number of extensions: .com, .net, .org, etc.

Domain Name System (DNS)

DNS is a centralized database for the internet that converts IP addresses into domain names. When someone types your domain into their browser, a DNS server points your domain to the IP address of your web server so visitors can see your website.


Favicons are the small icons you see near the address bar at the top of your browser. These icons are customizable.


A fixed width layout has a defined width. The width of the website does not change no matter how large or small a visitor’s screen or browser window is.

Front End

The front end is the side of a website that is visible to visitors.


FTP is a method used to transfer files over the internet. Web developers use FTP to upload files from their computer to your website. It’s also used to do the reverse: to download files from your website to their computer.


Web hosting is a place where you store all the files that make up your website. When you buy web hosting from a provider, you are buying space on a web server for your files to be stores.


HTML, which stands for Hypertext Markup Language, is the most basic language of web development. HTML defines the content–text, images, and video–of a web page and has little to no styling until CSS is applied.

A hyperlink is a link from one web page to another. Hyperlinks can link to pages on the same website or pages on other websites.


Javascript is a programming language used to make web pages interactive. Javascript can control events that happen when a visitor hovers on an object, clicks a button, scrolls on a page, and more.


The term permalink is short for “permanent link.” A permalink is the URL of an individual blog post. When you the main blog page of a website, the page gets updated as new posts are published. Permalinks make it easy to bookmark or link to a specific post even after it’s been pushed off the main page.

Responsive Design

Responsive design is an approach to web design where a developer creates a web site that resizes itself based on the size of the screen or browser window. Responsive design has become increasingly popular as users started viewing websites from mobile phones, tablets, and other unique screen sizes.

Read the Whole Series

Did I miss any big ones? Is there a web development term or buzzword that has you confused? Let me know in the comments!


Leave a Comment

  1. December 18, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    No Questions. Looks like you answered most questions most people would have.
    Working on our site. Taking a quick detour to yours.
    Happy holidays.
    More in the New Year.

  2. December 28, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for the visit and comment, Rainer! I’m excited about some of the ideas you have for your site. Hoping we get to make some of them happen in 2016!

  3. August 15, 2017 at 1:10 am

    I found your blog on Pinterest, so I came to give it a look. I’m enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be share this to my Friends! Wonderful blog and amazing design and style.