Web design jargon: a glossary for business owners.

Craig Greenup 29/05/23, 09:42

Web design jargon: a glossary for business owners

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by web design jargon. And if you’re a business owner looking to get a website designed, techy terminology can leave you feeling very confused.

That’s why we’ve created this glossary of web design terms. From 404s to favicons, cookies to breadcrumbs, here we give easy-to-understand definitions for the jargon you’re most likely to come across on your web design journey.

A web design glossary for business owners

Here’s our A to Z of web design. Grab a cuppa and read through the whole glossary list to hone your knowledge. Or search the page for specific web design terms that have you stumped.

301 redirect

A 301 redirect is a way to permanently redirect users from an old web page to a new one. We tend to use it when we’re moving or removing a page from a website. With a 301 redirect in place, even if users click on a link to the old web page, they’ll be sent straight to the new one.

404 error

A 404 error occurs when someone searches for a page that doesn’t exist on your website. Users tend to get 404 errors when they follow a broken link or make a mistake when typing a website address.

404 error page

When a 404 error occurs, it’s best practice to present users with a 404 error page. This page tells them that the page they’re looking for doesn’t exist – and points them back in the direction of a functional webpage.

Some businesses use their 404 error page as an opportunity to delight their users with a creative, on-brand message. Take a look at these clever examples to see how it’s done.

A/B testing

A/B testing is a way to find out which website changes make a positive difference to your business. You do this by showing two different versions of your website to users. Half of users see Version A and the other half see Version B.

By looking at the analytics for both pages, you can see which version gets the best results. You can then make informed decisions about which changes to keep and which to discard


When we talk about accessibility, we’re talking about whether people with disabilities find it easy to use your website. Sites should be accessible to everyone, regardless of colour blindness, visual impairment and any other disability.


An accordion is a type of menu that features on a web page. You see a stack of headings, one on top of the other. But when you click a heading, the accordion expands to reveal related content.

Web designers use accordions to break large sections of text into more manageable chunks.

Alt text

Alt text is the words used to describe an image on your website. Most CMSs give you the option to add alt text when you upload an image.

Descriptive alt text is important because it helps visually impaired users to understand your site content. It can also impact your SEO.

Anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text of a hyperlink. It usually appears in a different colour to the surrounding text so users know that they can click on it. When deciding which anchor text to use, pick words that accurately reflect the content you’re linking to.

Back end

The back end of a website is the part of a website that your website users can’t see. It’s the place where all website data is stored and organised. The back end tells the front end of a website what to display to users.


Backlinks are links from other sites to yours. And they have a big impact on your SEO performance. A website with lots of links from high quality sites will rank more highly in search engine results than one without.

Below the fold

This is a term borrowed from the newspaper industry. And it refers to the way readers (or users) tend to look at the top half of a page first.

In terms of a web page, the fold is the bottom part of a device screen. Users have to scroll down to see content below the fold.

Black hat SEO

Black hat SEO is any kind of SEO strategy that goes against search engine guidelines. These tactics were once rife. But a strict clampdown by search engines means any sites using black hat SEO are now penalised.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a website performance metric. It’s the percentage of people who leave your website after visiting just one page. Ideally, you’re looking for a low bounce rate because this shows that people find your site content relevant and interesting.


Breadcrumbs help users to find their way back to another webpage. You’ll find breadcrumbs at the top of a page, usually in this type of format:

Home page > Category > Subcategory

Each page in the breadcrumb is hyperlinked. So users can simply click on the text to navigate back to a previous page.


A website brief is the information and instruction a client gives to a web design agency before they start work on a website.

A good brief includes information on your brand, customers, competitors and website goals. You should also talk about the technical features your website needs.

Brochure website

A brochure website doesn’t have an ecommerce function. Like a printed brochure, it simply advertises your products or services to users – and encourages them to get in touch.


A browser is the program a website visitor uses to view your website. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer are all web browsers. A website should look great and function beautifully across all browsers.


Caching is when copies of files are stored in a temporary location, called a cache. This makes it quicker and easier for a server to retrieve website information and present it to a user.

Call to Action

A call to action – or a CTA – is an instruction to your website users to do something. You might be asking them to read more, to buy a product or to get in touch with your team.

The location of a CTA button on a webpage is really important in getting users to take the desired action.


CDN stands for content delivery network. It’s a network of servers that supports your host server. CDN servers store copies of your website. When a user tries to access your website, the nearest CDN server responds to the request. This helps to speed up your website.

Cloudflare is a company that provides CDN services.


CMS stands for content management system. It’s a software application that allows you to change your website without using any code. As a business owner, you’ll use your website’s CMS to edit page content, upload new product pages and create new blog posts.


Cookies are used on the majority of websites to store information about a user visit. They can tell a business owner how users are arriving at their site and whether they’ve visited the site before.

These cookies don’t contain any information that can personally identify a user. But, because of GDPR rules, you need to ask users to give their cookie consent.


Website content is the text, images, video and audio content you include on your website. The quality of your content affects how a user feels about your site.

Conversion rate

Conversion rate is another website performance metric. This number tells you the percentage of users who have completed a desired action.

An ecommerce conversion rate usually measures sales. But you might like to track other conversions – including mailing list sign-ups and resource downloads.


CSS stands for cascading style sheets. It’s a file that describes how HTML elements will look on screen.

Domain name

Your domain name is your website’s unique address. Our domain name is Choosing a domain name is one of the most important decisions you make as a business owner.

Ecommerce site

An ecommerce site is a website that allows you to sell products or services online. Users select a product, checkout and make payment, all via your website.


A favicon is a small icon that represents your website. You tend to see your favicon in browser tabs, bookmark lists and search engine result pages.


Your website footer is the section of content at the bottom of a webpage. Usually, the same footer appears at the bottom of every page on your site. And it tends to contain things like your copyright notice, a link to your privacy policy, a site map and social media icons.

Front end

The front end of your website is the graphical user interface that a website visitor sees and interacts with.


GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It’s an EU law that aims to protect the data and privacy of website users. You need to understand GDPR before collecting any user information.


A website header appears at the top of a web page. This is where you tend to find a business logo and navigation links.


Your home page is the main or introductory page of your website. This page uses your root domain name.


All websites are hosted on a server. Some companies have their own server. But most outsource hosting responsibilities to another company. The web hosting service you choose affects things like site speed, security and downtime.

Hover state

This is the subtle animation that a user sees when they hover their cursor over a webpage link. It helps to show users that text or an icon is clickable.


HTML stands for hypertext markup language. It’s the main coding language used to write web pages.


HTTPS stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure. This is a set of rules for transferring files. Unlike HTTP, this transfer takes place over a secure and encrypted connection.

When it comes to your website, you need to use the HTTPS protocol. That’s because it makes your site more secure, which reassures both website users and Google.

Internal linking

An internal link is a link on one page of your website that directs users to another page on your website. Internal links are useful for users. They help them to navigate your site more easily. A good internal linking strategy can also improve your site’s SEO.


JavaScript is a coding language that can be used alongside HTML and CSS. It’s useful when developers want to create dynamic, interactive elements for a website.

Landing page

A landing page is a standalone web page that is purely focused on conversion.

Users usually arrive at your landing page via an email, an ad or a QR code. Content on the landing page then encourages them to take a desired action, such as buying a product or signing up to your mailing list.

Loading speed

Loading speed is the speed at which your website becomes visible and functional for users. The speed of your website has a big impact on user experience and SEO.

Meta description

A meta description is the short section of text that appears in search results, just below your page title. It gives users a better idea of the content they’ll find on a particular webpage. Well-written meta descriptions encourage users to click and discover your website.


Website navigation is the collection of website elements that help a user to travel around your site. With good navigation – through menus, buttons and link text – a user can find everything they need easily, without getting lost or frustrated.

Responsive design

People use a wide range of devices to access the internet. Responsive design means designing websites that look amazing and function perfectly across every single device screen.


A plugin is a piece of software that adds functionality to an existing website. You can install a plugin on a WordPress site without using code.

Plugins are a useful solution for business owners looking to improve their websites without the help of a web developer. But use too many plugins and you can actually hurt site speed and website performance.


A website prototype is a mock-up of what a website is going to look like. Often, a prototype is interactive and clickable.

A client can navigate the prototype, getting to grips with the structure and suggesting any changes before the real site is built.

Schema markup

Schema markup is code that tells search engines about the elements on your website. It helps search engines to provide rich results. These are results that contain extra information – like review ratings and product prices.


SEO stands for search engine optimisation. Good websites are built with SEO in mind. This makes it more likely that search engines will place your site high up in search results, which means you’ll get lots of site visitors.


A sitemap is a file that lists the most important pages on your website. Search engines use sitemaps when deciding which pages to include in search engine results.

XML sitemaps are the preferred format for search engines. They contain information about URLs, any local URL variants and when the page was last updated.


SSL stands for secure sockets layer. It’s a security protocol that protects a website (and its users) from cyber threats. An SSL certificate shows that your site is secure and allows you to use HTTPS at the beginning of your site URL.

Sticky elements

Sticky elements are webpage elements that stay in the same position on a screen, even as a user scrolls down the page.


UI stands for user interface. It’s how users interact with a website, app or other digital product. User interface design means building interfaces that users find easy and exciting to use.


UX stands for user experience. It’s how a user feels when interacting with your website. User experience design is all about giving users the best possible website experience. By responding to their needs and their goals, we create sites that people love to visit again and again.


The wireframe is one of the first steps in web design. It’s a simple, non-technical outline of a website that uses lines and boxes to show where elements are going to go and how pages will be structured.


WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for building a website. It’s an open source content management system that gives web developers and designers lots of flexibility.

Still confused by web design jargon?

We hope this web design glossary has given you a better understanding of the industry lingo.

But if there’s any web design terminology you’re still struggling to get your head around, why not get in touch with the Radical Web Design team?

We’ve worked with hundreds of business owners over the years. And we know that complex web design terms just leave our clients feeling confused.

So we promise to leave web design jargon at the door and talk about our work and your website in terms everyone can understand.

Give us a call if a web design term has you baffled – or if you want to get started on a new web design project.