Let's get to grips with some key website terms

If you've never had to deal with your own website before then you may be feeling a bit baffled by some of the words that you encounter when you start your research. I'm going to go over some of the main terms that you might hear, and what on earth they all mean. 

Squarespace

This is the tool that I use to create websites. It's an online website builder, and you start with a particular template which can then be customised to create a unique online presence for your brand. It's really easy to update, for example if you want to add pages or change some of the content on a page. 

Blog

On your website, you will have pages that contain information that probably doesn't change that often, for example how to contact you or details about your organisation. However, you may also want to share information more regularly such as news updates or articles. For this, you would use a blog. Each news item or article will be one blog post. 

All of the content from your blog stays on the website, but the most recent content appears first. You can help people to find the information that is most relevant to them by using categories to organise your posts, and by using tags to describe the content (a bit like hashtags on social media sites if that means anything to you). Squarespace has built in blogging functionality

Browser

A web browser or internet browser is what you'll be using now as you read this. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari are all browsers; they are tools that allow you to browse pages on the web. 

All websites are made from code, and browsers read the code and interpret it in the form of web pages for you to look at. Some browsers read code slightly differently to others which is why sometimes websites can look slightly different depending on which browser you are using. Squarespace websites work on most modern browsers

Domain Name

In order to have a website address, for example www.yourbusinessname.com you first need to own what is known as a domain. It's like claiming a space on the internet and once you've bought a domain, nobody else can use it. 

Your domain takes the form of yourbusinessname.com (although you can also have different endings such as .co.uk or .org for example) and is also what forms the basis of your email address such as yourname@yourbusinessname.com. 

Your domain name links to your website, and you can have more than one domain name linked, for example yourbusinessname.com and yourbusinessname.co.uk. Squarespace gives you a .com or .org domain name free for your first year when you sign up for an annual plan

URL

A URL is a website address that uses a domain name to find a particular place on the internet. It starts with the domain name but can add extra information (before and after) to make it more specific, for example www.yourbusinessname.com/about.

The bit after the slash e.g. /about corresponds to a page or section of your website. The www. part of a URL is often not necessary as its main function is just to tell your browser that it's looking for a website. So you could type yourbusinessname.com/about and it would take you to the same place. 

The http:// part that you may also see at the start of a URL is technical information that your web browser uses to load the website. The main thing to be aware of is the difference between http:// and https://. The "s" at the end stands for secure and is generally used when a website is collecting sensitive information like passwords or credit card details. 

Hosting

Websites are essentially a collection of files and code. Just like you need storage space on your computer to store your files, there also needs to be a place where all of your website files are stored. That's where hosting comes in. 

Hosting uses large and powerful computers, called servers, to store your website files and make them available online (where they need to be). Having all of these computers costs money so the companies that own them will nearly always charge a fee for storing your data. All Squarespace plans include free hosting

The Cloud

Hey, remember those files on powerful computers that I mentioned above? Services like Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud use these computers to store all kinds of files for their customers, including documents, photos, music and videos.

Whilst the computers do very much exist in the physical world, it's kind of weird to think about, because you can upload or download your photos, music and documents wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection (this uploading and downloading is what is going on in the background if you have set your device to "sync"). 

"The Cloud" is therefore quite a good analogy to describe what happens. If I'm remembering my Geography lessons correctly, think about how water evaporates and is stored as clouds (uploading) until the water vapour is released in the form of rain (downloading). 

 

So in summary...

  • Hosting stores your website files in "The Cloud"
  • A domain claims a space online for your website files 
  • A URL tells your web browser where to look for these files

Looking for more jargon free support? 

Check out my guide to creating a landing page using Squarespace, or book on to one of my upcoming workshops