April 3, 2016

70 Crucial Web Technology Terms for Marketers Explained

Web Technology Terms

Today's marketer keeps a big meal on the plate at all times, executing initiatives across the marketing spectrum, from event planning and marketing to SEO and retargeting. And that range doesn't even include management of website design and development projects! When you're expected to do so much, you've got to know a lot, too. That's where this post comes in.

While we can't tackle the whole list of marketing vocabulary in this one post, we can get down to the nitty gritty of at least a portion of it, often the most daunting one: the vocab of web technology. Without further ado, here are the 70 most important words anyone responsible for managing a company's website should be familiar with. Even if you're not directly responsible, knowing these terms will give you a leg up on your less tech-savvy competition.

Website Design

Navigation Map: You might also hear this discussed as the information architecture. What this refers to is the structure and hierarchy of the pages of the website.

Mood board: A collection of aspirational design elements you would like to see incorporated into your website. Think of it as a scrapbook of sorts. You'll often see mood boards used if you're working with an agency to kick off the design process.

Wireframe: Blueprints are to home construction as wireframes are to websites. They are a critical piece of the website strategy process that outlines the structure of all your website templates.

Conversion Map: Another critical piece of the planning phase, a conversion map shows you the alignment between pages, their calls to action and the stage in the buyer's journey.

Template: A template is the coded version of one of the page layouts you saw in the wireframe. A website will be made up of many different templates. For example, the homepage would be one template, then you might have an about page template, a blog listing template and a blog post template. A given template can be employed for as many individual pages as needed. For example, a company with 5 products would likely use a product page template for all 5 product pages.

Sub-page: Any page that is not your homepage. Another way to think of this is any page on a URL that is a sub-folder of your main domain. For example, www.newbreedmarketing.com/careers is a sub-page. www.newbreedmarketing.com is our homepage.

Hero: The large image, headline and call to action that will usually be seen above the fold of the homepage.

Website Development

Hamburger Navigation: An increasingly common control to hide/expand the menu of a site. Hamburger navigations were first used on mobile but since have seen expanding use on desktop sites as well to reduce clutter in the header area. These are also referred to as offscreen menu toggles.

Sticky Nav/Persistent Nav: This is when the main menu of a site will stay on your screen, even as you scroll down below the fold of the website. It is a common best practice in modern web design.

Scroll-Jacking: This hotly contested technique was first made popular by Apple and has since been adopted by a subset of the developer community. Scroll-jacking is when a website doesn't follow conventional scrolling top to bottom but instead only a piece of the page moves while you scroll.

Parallax: This is a development technique to create perspective on a site when an element moves faster or slower than the page scroll. A really popular example is parallax backgrounds where the background image moves at a slower rate than the rest of the site on scroll.

User Experience (UX): A term most commonly used to define how intuitive and easy to use a website or application is. However, UX goes beyond this and also tries to measure a person's emotional response and engagement with a particular web page or application.

User Interface (UI): The UI, or, more specifically in the case of web design, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) are the collection of elements which allow humans to interact with a website. The goal of a good GUI is the make interactions intuitive and simple. Though we typically think of things like navigation menus, buttons, toggles, etc. when it comes to the UI, the term can arguably also relate to the overall aesthetic experience including non-actionable elements.

Responsive Design: Responsive design is the ability of a website to adapt and scale to allow usability on all device types regardless of manufacturer or operating system. This is done by using a variety of CSS properties including the @media query which allows for different style declarations based on screen resolution. Responsive design is in contrast to "Adaptive Design" which actually loads a separate web property based on the device.

301 Redirect: A method by which a web server can redirect traffic from a given URL to another URL. A 301 tells search engines that this is a "permanent redirect" and to update their indexing of the original URL. A 302 redirect is similar but is considered a "temporary redirect" so search engines should not update indexing of an original URL. Redirects ensure that traffic (and SEO rank) is not lost when switching domains or doing websites redesigns where URLs change.

404 Error: A response code indicating that the client was able to connect to the specific server, but could not find what was requested. This generally occurs when a user attempts to follow a broken or dead link. Best practice is to create a branded user-friendly error page with navigation elements so that users can still find valuable content on your site. Other common error codes are a 500 error meaning that the web server is not accessible and a 403 error meaning that you don't have permission to view the page.

Sitemap: A web page whose content shows the entire information architecture/navigation map of the website with links to each page. This is not to be confused with an XML Sitemap ( ex: newbreedmarketing.com/sitemap.xml ) which is used for search engines to index sites more efficiently.

Staging: A development environment where a website can be developed in private before it is moved into the live production environment. This is commonly accessible on a temporary non-indexed URL but sometimes only on a local network.

Production: The live environment which is accessible to the public on the Internet. For New Breed's main website our production environment is www.newbreedmarketing.com.

XML: Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that sets a collection of rules to define the encoding format for a document type. It's goal, as with JSON (which you'll learn about later in the list), is to be easily readable by humans as well as machines. RSS feeds are a common document format which leverage XML.

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RSS: Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication XML files contain information that's frequently updated, such as blog entries and news headlines, using a family of standard web feed formats. These can be used to populate feed readers, but can also be used to syndicate content on external websites.

Bootstrap: The most popular front-end framework for building websites and applications. It was originally developed by some developers at Twitter and is free and open source. It contains many common interface components as well as a fluid grid to allow for responsive design. HubSpot's fluid grid, which is utilized in its Visual Template Builde,r is based on a version of Bootstrap.

Framework: This is a fairly loose term that's thrown around a lot. In general, it's a collection of code (classes, libraries, etc.) that is reusable for future projects.

Portal: Not used as frequently as it once was a few years ago, but a portal refers to the login environment of any given software. For example, someone might say, "Can I have access to your HubSpot portal?"

Library: In web development this refers to a pre-written set of code that can be leveraged for future projects. For example, jQuery is a super popular Javascript library which extends the functionality of plain (or vanilla) Javascript.

HubSpot CMS

Smart Content: The ability to create a unique experience for a user based on certain segmentation criteria in HubSpot based on list membership, event tracking or referral source.

Module: A standard piece of back-end HubSpot CMS development.

Custom Module: Used by expert HubSpot CMS developers to create customized functionality above and beyond the out of the box capabilities of the platform.

Global Module: A module that appears on multiple templates throughout a website.

Global Group: A group of modules that appears on multiple templates throughout the website. For example, the footer of a website is a common global group.

Content Management Systems

Content Management System (CMS): A tool used to build websites that make it easier for people without web development experience to manage the content of a website.

HubSpot CMS: HubSpot's CMS that is an add-on to the core marketing platform. It differs greatly for most of its competitors in that it fully integrates into your marketing and sales automation platforms.

WordPress: The world's most popular blogging platform which is free and open-source.

Joomla: Another common free, open-source CMS written in PHP.

Drupal: Another common free, open-source CMS written in PHP.

Open Source: A platform where anyone has the ability to write applications for it, or a piece of software for which source code is made available for free, allowing for redistribution and the ability to modify that code.

Code Types

jQuery: The most popular JavaScript library designed to simplify client-side scripting to extend and simplify what can be done in plain JavaScript. Though it's better for processor-intensive applications to stick to lower level coding, jQuery is a great fit for building websites. It's also a free, open source and cross-platform library.

JavaScript: Along with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is one of the three essential technologies of websites, known as the programming language of the web. It is based in ECMAScript which is maintained by Ecma International.

Java: Not the same thing as JavaScript. It is a general purpose computer programming language. It is one of the most popular programming languages used for client-server web apps. HubSpot, for example, is based in Java.

HTML: HTML is an acronym for HyperText Markup Language. It is the standard language used to create web pages. It provides a way to make structured documents using a series of element tags. Early on, sites were written purely in HTML. Along with CSS and JS, it's the fundamental language of the web.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets are used to give different styles to a website and are separate from template markup or content. A given HTML document can take on a drastically different feel based on its CSS. CSS Zen Garden is an ongoing project that illustrates the power of CSS.

PHP: A server-side scripting language. Originally it stood for Personal Home Page, but now is a recursive backronym PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. Because it powers the biggest CMS platforms in the world (WordPress, Drupal, etc) it's one of the most common technologies on the Internet. Recently, however, it's losing some ground to new JavaScript-based server-side platforms like Node.js.

HubL: HubSpot's server-side templating language. Though very similar to Jinja 2's syntax, it is actually written from the ground up in Java for better performance.

Python: Another widely used general-purpose programming language. It was created by Guido van Rossum in the Netherlands as the successor to the ABC language. The name was taken from Monty Python's Flying Circus, of which Rossum is a big fan.

JSON: Short for JavaScript Object Notation and pronounced J-Sawn. It gives humans a way to easily read a collection of data in a logical manner that is still machine readable. It's very similar to XML and has become the go-to way to exchange data between APIs.

mySQL: Officially pronounced "My S-Q-L," it is a very popular database choice for developing web apps. It is a central piece of the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python). The "My" part of the name is taken from the co-founder's daughter and the SQL part stands for "Structured Query Language." mySQL is the most commonly used open-source database technology in the world.

Media Query: A CSS3 module allowing styles to apply depending on conditions. Horizontal screen resolution "breakpoints" are the most popular use of media queries, which are a cornerstone of responsive web design.

AJAX: Short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. With AJAX, web apps can send and receive data in the background without disrupting the display and behavior of the page.

Angular: AngularJS or Angular.js is a coding language and web-app framework mostly maintained by Google that is used to address challenges encountered in developing single-page web apps.

Node.js: Fairly recent in the scheme of things and is a server-side runtime environment which uses Google's V8 JavaScript engine. It has event-driven architecture and starting to replace PHP for some uses.

Download our free e-book to learn the 10 essential elements of a successful  website redesign.


DNS: Domain Name System. See the entry "Name Server" on this point.

CDN: Content Delivery Network. This is the practice of hosting website assets across a global network of servers versus a single web server. Besides providing redundancy in the case of a server being down, it also allows for fast page loads in all regions of the world by limiting the number of "hops" needed to reach a downloadable asset.

IP: A numeric system which directs traffic to a particular server on the Internet. All websites eventually map back to an IP where the files actually live. IPV6 is a newer version which uses letters in addition to numbers to allows for exponentially more combinations. This is important because with the number of devices connected to the Internet we are starting to run out of IPV4 combinations.

Domain Registrar: A domain name registrar is the company that actually manages the reservation of Internet domain names. This is how you “claim” a given domain such as newbreedmarketing.com. A domain name registrar must be accredited by a generic top-level domain registry such as ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). The most well-known registrars include GoDaddy (the biggest), Network Solutions (the oldest) and eNom, but there are many others. Once a domain is registered it is pointed at a specific name server to carry out its function.

Name Server: A name server (or DNS Server) is a computer server that tells a user’s computer where a particular resource is hosted. The name server has a “zone file” for each domain associated with it. For example, if you looked at the zone file for newbreedmarketing.com you’d see that our main site is hosted with HubSpot, our email is hosted with Google and our FTP is hosted with Host Gator. Most commonly these records take the form of an A record (address record) or CNAME (Canonical name record) but there are many more. To recap to this point, the registrar points at a name server, and then a name server points at a web host.

TTL (time-to-live): TTL or Time to live is a value set in seconds that tells how long it will be until your local computer refreshes its DNS information for a given domain record. So for example, a TTL value of 3600 would be 60 minutes (3600/60) or one hour. Most nameservers have a minimum TTL that you should be aware before making final launch plans.

Web Host / Web Server: Web hosts are companies that provide space to make websites accessible on the Internet. The web host is the server which physically hosts the files and databases that make up a website. When you’re adding content to your website in your CMS (Content Management System) you are directly interacting with your web host as are your site visitors who view this content.

ASP/.Net: Microsoft's server-side programming language. It's a direct competitor to PHP and is most commonly used in business applications.

Domain/subdomain: A domain is an identification string, essentially the name of a website. New Breed's Domain Name is newbreedmarketing.com. A subdomain is simply a domain that's part of a larger domain.

SSL: Secure Sockets Layer is a security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This is good to have in place to protect privacy and absolutely necessary when dealing with monetary transactions.

Firewall: A method to prevent outside computers from accessing a local network. This helps with security threats from outside entities.

Server and Database

Client Side: These are actions that happen on the user's end inside their web browser (or client). HTML, CSS and Javascript are all client side technologies in that they don't depend on the web server to function.

Server Side: These are actions that happen on the web server's side when a user is interacting with a website. A common server-side example would be taking a form submission and storing the information in a database.

Apache: The most popular web server type in the world. Apache began in early 1995 and played a major role in the initial rise of the World Wide Web. As of 2015 Apache was reported to power 50% of all active websites.

IIS/Microsoft Server: Microsoft's version of a web server. Though not as popular as Apache it's often used for business applications.

VPN: Virtual Private Network. This allows remote computers to log into a Local Area Network and gain access to servers otherwise restricted to outside users.

API Integration

API: Or Application Protocol Interface. This is the official, documented way in which a particular technology or platform can interface with another. For example, HubSpot can connect with SalesForce via its API. These days a huge part of backend web programming involves leveraging and writing APIs. API endpoints specify where particular resources lie and can be accessed by 3rd party services.

oAuth: An open standard for authorization on the web. This allows people to log into a service by using credentials from another service. For example, HubSpot allows you to login from your Google Account.

Now that you have an understanding of the terms involved in web technology, use our guide to get started with redesigning your website. 

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Tag(s): Websites

Christopher Mathieu

Christopher Mathieu is the Chief Services Officer at New Breed, an Elite HubSpot Partner based in Burlington, VT, which helps customers implement the right technology and strategies to unlock meaningful growth. With a background in design, technology, and demand generation, his over two decades of experience allow...


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