We’re providing a glossary of web design/development words and phrases to help inform our customers and help them understand better the language used in internet services. We hope to continue adding terms. If there is a term associated with web development that you don’t understand, let us know and we’ll add it here for future viewers.


A database created by Microsoft. This is sometimes used for websites with small database requirements. More robust and commonly used databases include MS-Sql (Microsoft) and MySql. Most databases can be exported into CSV (comma separated values) or XLS (MS Excel) files.

Action Script

A language developed by Adobe to manipulate graphics or create links in Flash. See Also Flash.


A plugin by Microsoft often downloaded by browsers to facilitate the communication between the browser and a web based application. Only to be downloaded when viewing a trusted website.


A popular web server that dispenses web pages on request and usually working within a Linux operating system. PHP is the programming language of choice when developing on an Apache web server.

API – Application Programming Interface

An interface used to let one program communicate with another. It also allows developers to “tap in” to existing programs (example: google maps) and embed them within a web development project.

ASP – Active Server Pages

One language developed by Microsoft often used for more complex websites or those that communicate with a database. ASP.NET is a more recent and effective language and is replacing ASP as a developer tool.

CMS-Content Management System

Content Management Systems are becoming more and more popular but they’re not for everyone. Simply, they allow someone to edit a web site with the help of a WYSIWYG without knowledge of programming languages typically used in web design. However, CMS can run from free to 10’s of thousands of dollars and can be either simple to use or require a significant learning curve. Many are specialized for a particular use such as in blogs, academic sites or specific business models.

CSS-Cascading Style Sheets

A simple language separated from the XHTML to control the overall look and styling of a website. CSS can be used to control the background colors or images, page layout, text and heading formats and fonts.


A storage container for information and data organized into tables that are connected by familiar relationships. Programming languages like ASP, .NET and PHP provide a medium to input and export the data within a database and organize it for viewing on a website in a graphical, easier to read, and organized fashion.


E-commerce sites allow users to buy products online through a shopping cart site with a gateway to a monetary transfer company such as Paypal or Authorize.net for e-check and credit card purchases.


A program used to combine graphics, video and text to enhance elements of a website. This program is often used to produce animation, interactive user environments, forms, slideshows, menus and more. Flash is not supported on iPhones or iPads. Due to this, a decline in popularity and new HTML5/CSS3 methods, many developers have moved away from Flash.

GUI – Graphic User Interface

Using programming languages to produce an interface where users can input or extract information usually held within a database for a more user-friendly experience.

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language

Later versions referred to as XHTML, this is the first and most basic language used to build web pages that are interpretted and graphically represented by browsers. Although web pages can be built with only HTML, now days many other languages are used to incorporate multi-media, user interactivity and other special features.

IIS – Internet Information Server

A webserver used on Windows servers developed by Microsoft. ASP, .NET and Silverlight are most compatible with a Windows/IIS webserver.


Keywords or phrases are added to meta tags within the websites HTML code which some search engines use to determine relevance to searches. Some keywords will provide better website exposure than others. Certain webtools can be used to determine the best keywords for your particular site but should always include terms used in conjunction with your products or services.

PHP – Hypertext Preprocessor

A programming language providing a means to run active scripts within a website. Often used on Linux/Apache web server configurations but also capable of running in a Windows/IIS environment.


A set of files that is added to the WordPress framework to add additional functionality to the application.

SDK – Software Developer Kit

Software Developer Kits are provided to help programmers develop in specific computer languages with documentation and scripts that speed up the process.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization (also SEM – Search Engine Marketing)

The use of keywords, statistics and common practices that result in higher placement of a website on any given search engine using commonly searched terms. Often specialized software is used to determine the best, most popular keywords to target in a marketing campaign. The next step is analyzing the website to determine the best procedures, content, links, etc. and making changes that will affect the wanted results when searching for relevant terms. Google is the primary search engine target for marketing as it is used in over 75% of the total searches on the web.

SSL-Secure Socket Layers

A method of encryption used to secure the transfer of data from the webserver to the client or viewer. SSL certificates are mandatory for e-commerce sites and sites transferring sensitive data such as personal information.


An add-on to WordPress (or other web application) that gives the basic functionality, navigation, columns, fonts, colors and user interface.

Web Hosting

Hosting is a necessary part of having a live website. The files making up a website reside on one or more servers that are located in a datacenter with climate control for optimum server operating efficiency. Datacenters often provide multiple high bandwidth internet connections and multiple power sources in order to achieve the highest “up-time” or website availability (the goal is 24/7 availability). Due to the multiple hits on a webserver, datacenters provide the fastest and surest communication with the rest of the internet. Datacenters also provide high security such as bio-tech security, multiple onsite cameras and programmed keys to insure only authorized personnel have access.


WYSIWYG stands for “What You See Is What You Get” and refers to the portion of a Content Management System where edits are made in a format that appears as the page will once the edits are made. Content Management Systems vary greatly but this portion is often the same, many times using the same code as others. There are usually icons above the editable section that resemble common word processing software like Microsoft Word.