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Web Development Glossary: 75 Essential Terms

April 10, 2023

by Anna Peck

Senior SEO Specialist at Clutch.co

Web development is an expansive, technical field. This comprehensive guide gives you all the information you need to confidently manage successful websites.

This web development glossary provides definitions of the most commonly used terminology in the development world, making it the perfect reference for developers of all levels. 

Whether you're a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced programmer needing a refresher, this comprehensive glossary has got you covered.

Interested in working with a web developer? Consult our list of trusted service providers.

75 Web Development Terms to Know

The web development industry is constantly evolving – stay in the loop about the key terms to know.


  • 301 Redirect: A permanent redirect from one URL to another.
  • 404: An error message that a user sees when what was requested can’t be found.


  • API (Application Program Interface): A set of procedures that allow the creation of apps that feature data of an operating system.
  • Application: An app is a program designed to perform functions.
  • Attribute: Information about a component in a website build


  • Backend: The behind-the-scenes operations that keep a website running, which can include coding and plugins. 
  • Backup: The process of creating a copy of site data.
  • Bandwidth: The measure of how much information can pass through depending on the connection.
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage at which a person leaves your website without interacting with a page.
  • Browser: The program used to access the web. Examples include Chrome, Safari, & Firefox.
  • Bug: An error or flaw in the website.


  • Cache: The storage of certain features and elements to help with faster load times from repeated site visitors.
  • CMS (Content Management System): A program used to create and maintain a website’s content.
  • Cookies: The data sent by an internet server to a browser.
  • Crawl: Search engines send bots to gather intel on published web pages to determine what should be displayed or removed.
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management): The software and apps used to gather, analyze, and maintain information on prospects.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheet): The code that communicates to the browser about how to display a webpage.


  • Database: An ordered system for storing a set of information resources.
  • Domain: The address for a website.
  • DNS (Domain Name System): A hierarchical naming system built for any resource connected to a private network or the Internet.


  • E-Commerce: A type of website where consumers can purchase products online.
  • End User: A person who ultimately uses and visits the website.


  • Firewall: A system to protect a secure network from an unsecured network.
  • Fonts: The character set within the typeface that refers to a particular size and style.
  • Framework: Suite of programs used in website development that lays the groundwork for programming languages.
  • Frontend: The part of the website that users see. Frontend development focuses on classic website design elements.
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): A method of exchanging files from one computer to another – this is how websites are uploaded to the Internet. 
  • Functionality: Features that make it easier for users to navigate a platform.


  • GUI (Graphical User Interface): The image of how a website is laid out and meant to be interacted with.


  • Homepage: The default page of a site.
  • Hosting: Refers to a web server where files for your website are stored.
  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): The coding language used to build a website.


  • Information Architecture: The practice of organizing complex information in a clear way.
  • IP Address: Identifies a network or device on the Internet. 


  • Javascript: A texted-based programming language that makes webpages more interactive.


  • Load Time: The average time that it takes for a page to show up on your screen.


  • Maintenance: A set of actions after the launch of a website to maintain the product.
  • Metadata: Structured reference data that sorts attributes of specific information.
  • Meta Tag: Information about web pages or elements like how a piece of content should be displayed or an image credit - this helps with SEO. 
  • Mobile-first: Designing a website with this approach keeps the version for mobile devices in mind.



  • Navigation: On a homepage, the links that break down website pages and showcase a journey for users. This can be through a menu at the top or bottom of a website. 


  • Open Source: Software code that’s designed to be publicly accessible.
  • Operating System: The program that manages all other applications and systems.
  • Optimization: The process of improving website performance across various areas.


  • Performance: Measurements related to the loading and operation of a website.
  • PHP: A widely-used open source scripting language that embedded into HTML elements.
  • Pixel: The smallest building block of graphical display on a web screen.
  • Plugins: Modules that can be added to a system that bring additional features or functionalities. 
  • Programming Language: A system of notation for computer programs that can be text-based or graphical.


  • QA (Quality Assurance): The process that ensures that all aspects are error-free.


  • Redirects: Automatic forwards from one URL to another.
  • Responsive Design: Design elements that accommodate the screen that they’re being viewed on.


  • Schema Markup: The code that can be used on a website to help search engines deliver more information to users.
  • Screen sizes: The design and style for how a website is displayed on desktop or mobile.
  • Scrolling: The act of moving a visual portion of a browser window vertically or horizontally.
  • Scripting: A list of commands within a programming language.
  • Search Engine: A huge database of internet resources where users can find what they’re looking for online. 
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): The process of improving your website to increase visibility online.
  • Server-side: The side that houses the hosting for a website.
  • Sitemap: An outline of all pages on a website.
  • SSL (Secure Socket Layer): The standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure.
  • Staging Site: A platform that contains the exact copy of the site that is used for testing and debugging.


  • Template: The layout and design of the platform that can be replicated.
  • Text Editor: One of the tools that websites use to add content to a page.


  • Usability: The quality attribute for how easy a site is to use.
  • User Experience: How users describe feeling while navigating a website.
  • User Interface: The point of human interaction within a website. For example, keyboard and mouse interactions on a web page.


  • Version Control: A set of software tools that give web developers control over website changes.


  • Web Address: Contains information about the location of the web page. Also known as the URL.
  • Web Browser: A program that allows users to locate and access web pages.
  • Web Design: The process that focuses on the aesthetic features of a website.
  • Web Pages: A document viewed in an internet browser.
  • Web Server: A software and hardware that uses HTTP to respond to a client’s request online.
  • Wireframe: A layout that outlines the specific size and placements.
  • WordPress: A popular, open-source CMS to build websites.

Understand the Components of Web Development to Help Your Business

Web development can be a complex and intimidating technology field. There are many different aspects to consider, from server architectures and coding languages, to design techniques and user experience. 

This glossary has provided basic definitions for some of the most common terms used in web development, allowing readers to gain a better understanding of the topics involved. 

With this knowledge in hand, users can begin to explore the world of web development and create innovative websites that meet their needs.

Learn more about web development costs in Clutch's 'Web Development Pricing Guide.'

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