Those interested in launching a WordPress website for the first time may find the jargon used throughout the process quite complicated. If you’ve never built a website before, this terminology can easily confuse and frighten you. But there’s nothing to worry about!
Once you know the lingo, you’ll be a WordPress website master. Use our quick guide to WordPress terminology and build your website with confidence.
Content Management System
A content management system or CMS is software which aids in the process of creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content. WordPress is a CMS used for web content publishing. In addition, a content management system allows users to format and publish their website content without an advanced knowledge of website development techniques and tactics.
A URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is the address of a specific webpage, file, or blog. URLs contain three distinct parts:
- The Prefix: https://, http://, or other options which determine the protocol
- The Domain Name: www.bluehost.com
- The Path: /blog/wordpress/
The domain name is a name used to find a website on the Internet. For instance, our domain name is bluehost.com. Each domain name is attached to an IP address which is a set of numbers that tells a browser where to find this website on the Internet. WPBeginner recommends thinking of a domain name as the human version of an IP address.
As you might have guessed, this is our favorite WordPress term!
Hosting refers to the technology necessary to make a website viewable on the Internet. Websites are stored (also known as hosted) on servers. When users visit your website, they type in your domain name which then connects to the specific server and displays your website. There are several different types of hosting to choose from, each serving a defined purpose.
DNS stands for domain name system. Within this particular system, you can control the A Name Servers, CNAME records, and more. All of this information tells a browser to point a domain name (remember, the IP address as well) to where the website is hosted.
When launching a WordPress website, you need to have a theme. As noted by WPBeginner, a theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress powered website. With WordPress, you have the freedom to design your own theme or choose from the thousands available online.
A plugin is a bit of software that aims to improve or add a specific functionality or feature to your WordPress website. Plugins are designed for users with limited coding knowledge. Meaning, you don’t have to know how to code to add certain capabilities to your website.
WordPress widgets are blocks of code that perform a particular function. Widgets mainly apply to the sidebar of a theme, but it depends on the styling of the theme. These widgets can be dragged and dropped into the sidebar and customized for your website.
Open Source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, alter, and improve. WordPress is an open source software monitored and worked on by volunteers located throughout the world. Supporters of open source software state this model allows bugs and errors to be fixed at a rapid pace.
In WordPress, users can edit their content using the Visual Editor. This mode of content creation allows users to manipulate content with rich text. As many WordPress community members note, this is a “what you see is what you get” editing mode. For instance, when you bold text, you will see the bolded text rather than the code used to perform that format.
On the other hand, the Text Editor mode can be used to format content using code. This editing mode requires users to manually input HTML and CSS to make content appear and function in a certain manner.
HTML stands for hypertext markup language. HTML is used to display text, images, or other resources through a web browser. HTML is plain text, not a programming language.
Cascading Style Sheets is a style sheet language used to define visual appearance and formatting of HTML documents, as defined by WPBeginner. Each WordPress theme has a style.css file which identifies and outlines the style rules the website must follow.
A template identifies a part of a web page generated by a WordPress theme. Common parts of a page include:
- Index.php – Used to display the main page of a website
- Header.php – Used to display the header section of a page or site
- Sidebar.php – Formulates HTML and widget blocks for a sidebar area
- Footer.php – Used to display the footer section
- Single.php – Used to display a single post page such as a blog post
Categories in WordPress are used to group sections of content together. For instance, on a website about travel, content categories could be:
- Travel Tips
- Travel Itineraries
- Top Travel Products
- Travel Reviews
If you look at our blog sidebar, you’ll see we use categories to organize our content into sections such as SEO, WordPress, Blogging, and more. On top of arranging content into groups, categories help users quickly find content around a particular topic or type.
Tags also help organize content on WordPress. However, these taxonomies tend to be smaller and more defined. Some bloggers use specific keywords as tags. WordPress users can use as many tags per piece of content as they desire.
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. This is the practice of manipulating and optimizing a WordPress website for better rankings in search results. Search engines employ robust algorithms and bots which analyze a website’s content, performance, and other factors to determine where a website should rank and for what particular phrases.
WordPress websites can leverage several plugins and search marketing tactics to improve their chances of ranking higher in search results.
More WordPress Website Terminology
Looking for a specific term we didn’t cover? The WordPress community has your back. Between forums and websites such as WPBeginner, you’ll be able to find the definition and use for any confusing term or phrase you come across while building your site.
What WordPress terms should every website owner know? Let us know your thoughts by sharing in the comments section below.