WordPress Glossary of Terms

The world of WordPress and websites is full of jargon and acronyms. I’ve put together this handy glossary to define some of the phrases and terms you’ll frequently come across. I’ve done by best to avoid jargon and to not get too technical to help you make sense of all the geek-speak.

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is the code that controls the design of specific pages and elements (like fonts or colors) on your website.

This is a type of website hosting service when your website has its own computer server. This is very expensive, and only used by very large websites with a lot of website traffic (like Amazon.com).

Your domain name is your website address. For example, shareyourstorypdx.com is the domain name for this website. Your website address is also known as your URL (Uniform Resource Locator).

A company or organization that manages the reservation and sale of domain names. Every website owner must purchase their own unique domain name from one of these registrars.

A hosted website is a service like Weebly or Squarespace that hosts your website and provides the design templates and tools for building your website. It’s a plug and play service that has packaged together all the parts and pieces you need to build a website into one place. It takes care of all the software updates and site security. 

While a hosted website can be a simpler way to get a website, you also have less design and feature control of your website. Usually the hosted website service has its own proprietary website building application that you can only use with its service. Also, you will be not be to add new functionality or features to your website that the service does not include. 

If your business outgrows what the service offers, or if you become dissatisfied with the service, migrating your website to another service or to a self-hosted site will be time consuming and possibly expensive.

HTML, or hypertext markup language, is the computer language of the Internet. HTML is what makes your website viewable on the internet. HTML and CSS work together so that your web pages display correctly in the browser and on all types of devices.

A hosting service that only hosts WordPress websites and manages some of the website maintenance for you. For example, the hosting service may update WordPress and provide your site security. Additionally, the servers are optimized for WordPress, so your website will be faster. Finally, many managed hosting services have an easier and simpler user interface for accessing your website and the WordPress Dashboard.

A page builder is a type of plugin that gives you the ability to design website pages without writing all of the code (HTML & CSS) for the page. Often, the plugins let you design pages using a drag and drop interface.

PHP is the computer language that runs WordPress.

A plugin is like an app that gives your website additional features and functionality. Think of plugins like apps for your phone. 

You have a self-hosted website when you put together all the parts and pieces for building your website. You buy the domain name, find your website host, and decide which application to use to build your website. You can build the website yourself, or hire someone to build it for you. Regardless, you have complete control over the website. You can build whatever type of site you want with whatever design you want. You can easily move your site from one website host to another. 

This is a type of website hosting when your website is on the same server as many other websites. Your website shares the same space and resources as the other websites on the same server. While this type of service is usually the most affordable, website loading speeds tend to be slower. Other busy websites on the same server can use up a lot of the resources on the server, leaving fewer resources for your website.

This is a premium type of shared website hosting where your website has its own dedicated section on the server. In other words, the server is divided up into sections, and a specific space and a share of the resources on the server are reserved just for your website. No other website can use that space or those resources. This service is usually more expensive than traditional shared hosting, but your website will be faster and perform better.

A company or organization that connects your website to the internet so people can find it. You can choose from a variety of types of web hosting. In general, the website host stores your website digital and electronic files on a big computer server that connects it to the internet. 

A WordPress widget is a small block of code that lets you add some type of function or information to specific areas of your WordPress website. Depending on your theme and design, you can add widgets to a variety of sections of your website to customize it and give it extra features. For example, you would use a widget to add a menu to the sidebar of your blog index page. Or, you might use a widget to add your contact information to the footer of your website.

Technically WordPress is a Content Management System, or CMS, for all the digital files that make up your website. Think of WordPress as the foundation for your website. It coordinates all the pages, blog posts, menus, and other files that make your website work. It is very flexible, and many types of websites can be built using WordPress. WordPress is open source software, meaning its code is public and it is free to use. It is not owned by anyone or any company, so anyone can write additional applications and themes that work with it. Anyone can download WordPress from wordpress.org.

WordPress.com is a hosted website service, like Weebly or Squarespace, that uses WordPress as its website building application instead of its own proprietary system. WordPress.org, is not the same thing. WordPess.org is the website for the community of developers that write the code, themes, and plugins for WordPress, and the website where you go to download WordPress to build your own self-hosted website.

Think of the theme as the basic website design framework. The theme can control your website’s design completely, or a theme can simply provide the tools for designing the website. Every WordPress website needs a theme. You can choose from a variety of free themes or paid premium themes for your WordPress website.

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