Website Vocabulary 101

Stack of books and magnifying glass

Know your terms

Last week we broke down some basic WordPress terms to help keep web professionals and their clients speaking in the same language. This week we’re looking at some essential website vocabulary. We hope a list of common terms associated with a conventional website will help customers and professionals communicate more clearly to one another.
  • Layout
    The structure of a website as opposed to the styling. In other words the component parts of a website rather than the look of those component parts. For example, this page uses a 2-column layout with one sidebar to the right of the main content area. The main content area and the sidebar are elements the site’s layout which are styled to reflect the website’s look and feel.
  • Style
    The way the structural elements, or the layout, of a site are made to look. The colours, fonts, spacing, graphics, effects and similar decoration that is applied to the elements that represent a site’s layout. For example, on this page the headings of WordPress widgets in the sidebar include a green background colour, leaf background image and bold sans serif font in white. The widgets themselves are structural elements with custom styles applied to them to suit the look and feel of this particular site.
  • Content
    The text and images that make up the information that is displayed by a website. Websites are, at their most fundamental level, a means of displaying, organising and communicating information. This information is a website’s content. For example, this blog post is a piece of ‘content’. Content is distinct from a website’s layout and styling; layout and style are used to present content in the desired way but the structure and the look of a site are distinct from its content. In other words, we could change the style of the fonts used on this website, but that change wouldn’t affect the words used in this post.
  • Functionality What a website *does*. Content doesn’t *do* anything. It is a ‘static’ display of text and images that may link to other content or external sites or services but it doesn’t interact with a user. Functionality is when a website does something with information it gets from a user. For instance, an ecommerce system has functionality to let customers choose products, enter shipping details and make payments.
  • Static Content Pages
    Informative content that does not change over time and is (usually) available from a website’s navigation, for example an About Us page is a typical example of a ‘static content page’.
  • Dynamic Content
    Content that is updated via a stream or service. For example, on this page the Twitter feed in the sidebar is dynamic content.
  • Header
    The top section of a website, which often includes such things as a logo, a tagline, links to social networks, a contact number and navigation.
  • Navigation
    Sometimes referred to as ‘menus’, navigation are the main links which let users move around your website. Navigation may be included anywhere, but is conventionally found in the header and/or a sidebar. There can be many levels of navigation with main navigation and sub-navigation.
  • Main Content
    What you’re reading right now is in the ‘main content’ of this page. The main content is the information most relevant to a particular page.
  • Sidebar To the right of what you are reading is a sidebar. Conventionally, websites have 1, 2 or no sidebars. Sidebars often include things such as supplementary information, dynamic content, navigation, contact forms, newsletter sign ups and advertisements.
  • Footer The section at the bottom of a web page. This often includes copyright information and some navigation links.
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