Breaking Down the Website Jargon for Non-Techies

Top 15 website development terms to help you muddle through

By Andrea Borja-Hoffmann


Think of a website as a restaurant. The frontend is everything the customer experiences, like the decor, music, and menu. It’s all the things that you see and interact with on the website – the design, animations, and the content.


Now, behind the scenes of the restaurant, there’s a kitchen with chefs cooking. This is the backend. It’s where the data is stored and managed, where servers and databases live. It’s the part of the website you can’t see, but it’s crucial for the website to function.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

HTML is like the foundation and framework of a house. It provides structure to the content appearing on a site, like text, images, and videos.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

If HTML is the house’s structure, CSS is the paint and decorations. It describes how HTML elements are displayed and controls the layout of multiple web pages all at once.


JavaScript is the electricity in the house. It allows for interactive elements on a site, like drop-down menus or a live Twitter feed. Without JavaScript, web pages would be static and dull.

Responsive Design

Imagine a website that fits perfectly, whether you’re looking at it on a giant cinema screen, a desktop monitor, a tablet, or a smartphone. That’s responsive design. It ensures the website looks good on all devices.

UX (User Experience)

The UX of a website is like the experience you have at a theme park. It’s all about how user-friendly and enjoyable your website is to use. Good UX can make a visit to a website enjoyable, just like a well-designed theme park.

UI (User Interface)

The UI is what you interact with at the theme park – the controls on the roller coaster, the maps, the buttons on the arcade games. In terms of a website, the UI is the buttons you click, the text you read, and the sliders you move.

CMS (Content Management System)

A CMS is like a library. It allows you to manage all your content (books in the library) without having to understand all the technicalities of website building.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is like the signage on a highway. It helps search engines, like Google, find your website and present it to users when they search for related topics.

API (Application Programming Interface)

API is like a waiter. You (the user) ask the waiter (API) for something (data), the waiter goes to the kitchen (the server) to get it, and then brings it back to you.


A server is like the warehouse of a store. It’s where all the website’s data is stored, and it’s what allows you to access a website when you type in the URL.


A domain is like the address of your house. It’s what you type into your browser to visit a specific website.


Hosting is like paying rent for a storefront for your business. You’re renting a space on a server where your website can live and be accessed by users.


A database is like a file cabinet. It’s where all the data related to your website is stored – like user information, site content, etc. It organizes everything in a way that’s easy for the server to find and display when necessary.

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