Internet Glossary and Jargon Buster

What those Internet terms and acronyms actually mean


The level of ease with which people who have visual or physical impairments can use or access the site. The Disability Discrimination Act requires website owners to take 'reasonable steps' to make their sites accessible. Although the Act is for the benefit of everyone, it is aimed more at Business to Consumer interaction than Business to Business


A document viewer from Adobe. Documents in Adobe's PDF format can be viewed, but not edited, by anyone with the free Acrobat reader (available to download from Adobe's website). Most documents available for download from the Internet are in Acrobat's PDF format


A facility that sends an email automatically in response to an email sent to you. For example, you might want to let people who send a note to your sales mailbox know that you've received it OK and will respond as soon as possible. An autoresponder set up on the sales mailbox account can do that


This refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted, usually over a given period, not the line or link speed. A bandwidth limitation is often placed on websites by the hosting company - although that limit is unlikely to be reached by the average Small Business website


Short for web log. Blogs are on-line diaries or magazines from individuals and are used to post news, articles and opinions about anything they want to share


A permanent link within your browser to a selected website. It is what Internet Explorer creates in the Favourites column or folder. By clicking on the bookmark you will be taken directly to that site without having to type in the address again (see also Favourite)


A fast, permanent link to the Internet. Instead of having a dial-up modem that uses your normal telephone line, Broadband connections uses a special modem. This accesses a dedicated data line - usually on the same cables as your telephone line. Can be provided by phone/data companies like BT etc (ADSL/DSL) or cable companies like NTL and Telewest


The piece of software that you use to browse Internet sites. The most common browser is Internet Explorer, provided by Microsoft. Alternative browsers are Firefox, from Mozilla, and Safari

Bulletin board

Bulletin Boards are somewhere that people use to share common interests. Users can post questions, answers, comments etc and generally share opinions or information online. Usually requires registration (signup) by participants and someone to moderate what's posted (see also Forum)


The words and pictures of the site - as opposed to the design and structure. This is what you (or a Copywriter) needs to provide to a Web Designer so that it projects the right image for your business

Content management

The update of the content of a site. Usually refers to larger sites with lots of content that changes regularly. The content management is usually performed by people within the business using special tools, rather than by the Web Designer


A software tool sold by Macromedia, the people who produce Dreamweaver. Contribute allows people to navigate to a site, as though in a browser, and then make changes themselves. It can be easy to use but lack of training or infrequent use can make it more difficult


A cookie is a small file that's placed on your PC by a website. It allows the owners of the website to maintain (and sometimes track) certain information on you. Usually this is totally benign and in your interests. For example, it may comprise your id and password (for easy access to their site), items you may have bought or pages you might have visited


The preparation of the text to be used on a website. This is not as easy as it sounds! The text on a site is like the material in your brochures and other sales material. It needs to be written to appeal to the people viewing your site


Short for Cascading Style Sheets. Style sheets are used in websites to help separate the appearance of the site from it's structure and content. Using style sheets it can be easy to change a font or background colour across the whole site rather than having to edit each page individually


In a database-driven website most, if not all, of the content is stored as records in a database. Examples of such sites would be an on-line shop with many products or a news site (eg BBC) with many news stories

Domain/Domain name

This is the part of a address. The same is true for all, .net, .info etc addresses. This name, for example, defines an Internet site and points to a real Internet address eg More than one domain name can point to the same Internet address. For example, both and can point to the same Internet address. That internet address usually points to a website or an area on a web server


This is the process of getting one or more files from the web to a local PC. This can be from a webserver or an FTP server (see FTP)

Download time

The amount of time it will take to download one or more files from the web. Also used to mean the time it will take to load a web page into your browser when viewing a website. The page has to be downloaded to your PC before you can view it. The download time of a web page is affected by its complexity, its size, how many images it has and a number of other factors


The software program used by the many professional Web Designers to build web sites. (See also Frontpage)

Dynamic site

Many websites are built from static, HTML pages. This means that they exist on a webserver in that form and are simply downloaded to your PC when you want to view them. Dynamic pages are built from two or more sources in real time when you ask for them. They may contain some static information together with data that changes. Examples would be Yahoo's Home page or the BBC News site's front page. These pages change very often and are built from the news stories available at a certain point in time. (See also database-driven)


Buying and selling on the web. This might be the simple purchase of an item, signing up for a magazine subscription or paying a gas bill electronically - all done through websites


Frequently Asked Questions. A set of help pages detailing the most commonly asked questions. This information can make using your site much easier for people whilst saving you phone calls and e-mails


A permanent link within your browser to a selected website. It is what Internet Explorer creates in the Favourites column or folder. By clicking on the bookmark you will be taken directly to that site without having to type in the address again (see also Bookmark)


A web browser, like Internet Explorer (IE), but made by Mozilla and distributed free. Firefox has less security problems than IE.


A software or hardware barrier between your PC(s) and the Internet. Usually configured by default so that almost all outward traffic is allowed but inbound traffic is restricted to certain types (e-mail, web pages, files being downloaded etc). Good practice now states that some outbound traffic should also be blocked.


The look or style (and sometimes size) of the characters by which text is formed on screen. The fonts available on your PC may not be available to everyone. Web Designers know this and have to provide the text on web pages in a common, restricted set of fonts - or risk displaying pages incorrectly on some PCs


The sending of a e-mail to a different destination automatically by the use of a autoforwarding facility. Often used to direct multiple mail addresses to the same mailbox


A part of a web page that is really a page within the page. A frame doesn't necessarily change when the rest of the page changes. Originally used to ensure that navigation menus appeared identically on every page. Now superceded in modern sites by other methods


Forums are somewhere that people use to share common interests. Users can post questions, answers, comments etc and generally share opinions or information online. Usually requires registration (signup) by participants and someone to moderate what's posted (see also Bulletin Board)


Software that is distributed for free. It usually comes with a license that restricts it's use. Much Freeware is for personal use only and attaracts a charge if its to be used within a commercial organisation


Microsoft's software for building web sites. Although more powerful these days, its still used mostly by people to develop small or personal websites


File Transfer Protocol. This is sometimes what's used to transfer web pages and associated material to the website on the web server. There are free FTP programs that can be downloaded


This is a type of image file used in web sites. GIF files are normally fairly small and have a limited number of colours. Logos and simple pictures are usually GIF files. More complex images are usually in JPEG format (see JPEG files)


Another name for an image file. Encompasses any type of logo, photo, drawing etc file. Graphics can be the largest contributor to web page size and need to be used sparingly where download speed is of paramount importance


The usual name for an access to a website or web page. Page 'hits' are the number of times that a page has been downloaded. 'Hits' can be made by browsers or by automated web search machines (see also Spiders). The definition of 'Hits' is ambiguous and is interpreted differently across the Internet


When a website resides on a remote server, usually owned by a professional company that does this as its business, it is 'hosted'. Many Hosting companies also offer domain names and e-mail facilities as part of a package


HyperText Markup language. The language that most web pages are built in. Professional Web Designers either program in HTML using a simple text editor or they can use a complex WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment such as Dreamweaver


HyperText Transfer Protocol. This is the way that HTML pages are moved across the Internet, from an HTTP server (the web server) to an HTTP client (your browser). If you look at the FULL address of a web page in your browser you'll see it as, for example,


Text or image that, when clicked on, take the reader to another page, document or site


Internet Explorer, Microsoft's browser. Currently distributed free with the Windows Operating Systems but soon to become a separate product

IP address

Internet Protocol address. In the Internet world, everything has an address. Objects and locations can have names but underneath, they also have an address in the format where each xxx is between 0 and 255. Domain names are translated into an address by Domain Name Servers


Internet Service Provider. ISP's provide access points onto the Internet. They are different from the phone and communication companies although they use the latter's telecommunication facilities. Examples of ISP's are Pipex, Virgin, Tiscali etc


A language used to build programs or applications that link computers on the web or to provide large-scale graphical applications such as browsers, audio players and editors. Also used to write small applications often seen in web pages such as calculators


A language used to write programs and applications that can be run from a web page in a browser. Often used to provide interaction and small-scale animation. Javascript can be turned off from within a browser, thus stopping some sites from working correctly. This might be done in an attempt to stop malicious Javascript code from being run from a visited site


The name of the format used for some images on web sites. JPEG (or JPG) is the best format for photographs and other images with varying shades and tones


Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN etc) index websites on the words in the text. The words (and pharases) that you want to be found by are considered to be 'keywords'. These words and phrases are also incorporated in hidden aspects of a web page that only Search Engines can see

Landing page

This is a page on your site specially constructed for a certain purpose. It maybe the address that some people will pick up because of the link they click from another site etc. It maybe a page that's specially written to be found through Search Engines by people looking for the subject of at least one aspect of your site. It's a way of funneling people to your main site pages from a number of disparate sources and searches


The bridge between a piece of text, an image or a menu item, for example, and another web page or site. Clicking on a link will cause your browser to load the page identified in that link - or take you to the default page if the link is a web site address. See also Hyperlink

Link exchange

Some sites agree to exchange links. This happens where the functions or topics of the site are complimentary and the owners want to cross-refer visitors to each others sites. It also happens as a way of increasing a site's popularity with the major Search Engines (see also Link Popularity)

Link popularity

Some of the Search Engines (notably Google) are known to view a site more favourably where it has many inbound links from other, RELATED, sites. The more highly ranked those inbound sites are, the more credence given to those links and the better the ranking given to your site


The navigation system(s) used to move between pages in a website. Menus can be static, dropdown, flyout, image-based and a number of other formats and styles. The more obvious a menu's structure and content, the easier it is for users to navigate around your site - usually a primary objective


Where a keyword is used in a special field in the hidden part of a web page, it is referred to as a Metatag. They are used by Search Engine spiders when indexing a site although their use in this way is declining


A site within a site. The microsite can be reached by navigating within a larger site but can also be arrived at directly through it's own address or domain name. This might be used where a large site has a number of discrete sections - for example departments within a store. Some or all of the individual departments appear as areas/menu options within the large site but also have their own name and web address


When a mouse is moved around a web page and an action happpens when it is moved over an item on the page (a menu option changes or a dialogue box appears etc) it is called a Mouse-over event. Also known as Hover


The company which produces the Firefox browser. Also the name of a slightly older browser from the same group


A database platform and programming language found on Linux and Unix web servers. Equivilent to SQL Server from Microsoft on Windows servers. MYSQL is a Freeware application - ie it's free to distribute and to use


The web site menu system (See also menu)


All .uk domain names are controlled in the UL by a company called Nominet. They license other companies to issue all .uk domain names - including,,, and so on


Another browser. This is also distributed free.


A file format used by Adobe which allows documents to be viewed but not edited. It also allows a mix of text and high quality graphics together with an easy to use page navigation system. There is a free viewer which can be downloaded from Adobe

Page ranking

The level of importance placed by Google on a given web page. The ranking goes from 0 (unranked) to 10. Very few pages ever get ranked as 10


A system of website promotion that charges by the number of times people click on your website link. Google's adwords facility works like this. You bid a certain amount of money per click e.g. 50p). When your advert appears on the right-hand side of a Google Search window, and someone clicks on your link, you then owe Google 50p


A software package commonly used to prepare photos and graphics for websites


A programming language commonly used on dynamic websites or where processing at the web server end is needed (e.g. for forums or intelligent form processing)


Short for Picture Element. A pixel is the smallest element of a display screen's resolution and shows in RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colour. Common screen resolutions are 800 pixels by 600 pixels, 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 1024. Generally, the more pixels per screen, the better the picture quality will be

POP3 mail

A common type of mailbox and mailserver protocol


A window that 'pops up' over other windows on the screen when an action triggers it. Often associated with adverts but can be used within websites for many other purposes


The sending of a web page request or e-mail to a different destination by use of a redirection facility. Often used to direct multiple domain names to the same website. Also used with e-mail to send mail addressed to a virtual mailbox to a real mailbox


Used to mean the picture quality on a monitor or screen. It means the number of pixels, or display 'dots' that make up the full screen. The higher the number of dots or pixels, the higher the image quality


Another browser, found only on Macintosh computers

Screen size

The physical dimensions of a computer display screen. The units are the same as for TVs and refer to the diagonal dimension of the screen from corner to corner. The distance may be the physical size of the tube or inner screen or the actual visible area of the screen itself

Search Engine

A suite of software components that scans the internet for websites (see also Spiders), indexes them and their contents and then provides a search tool. Google, Yahoo and MSN are all examples

Search Engine optimisation

The process of making a web site and its pages attractive to Search Engines so as to get ranked as high as possible, and thus be found by more people (see also Search Engine ranking)

Search Engine ranking

The level of importance a Search Engine gives to a web site and its pages. The higher the ranking, the further up a search page a web site is likely to be

Secure server

A server that is used for the handling of sensitive information such as financial transactions or personal data. Secure servers give a much higher degree of protection from hacking and theft than normal web servers


Like Freeware, software that is freely distributed. Unlike freeware, Shareware is usually meant to be purchased (at a small cost) if it's still being used after it's been trialled

Shopping cart

The component of a website that stores details of pending purchases in an online shop. It mimicks the operation of a real shopping basket or trolley in a real shop

Site Map

A web page showing the location of all pages in that website with a brief description of what's on them


The piece of search engine software that moves between websites gathering the contents of each page ready for indexing. Spiders follow links between pages and other websites

SQL Server

Microsoft's database product. (See also MYSQL)


The part of a modern website's programming code that holds the information on the appearance of the pages - as opposed to the structure and content. The stylesheet holds details like the fonts, background colours and a whole lot more


Super VGA. Screen resolution of 800 pixels x 600 pixels


Super XGA. Screen resolution of 1280 pixels x 1024 pixels


A marker in HTML for the different types of structural elements that make up a web page


A page that is used as the basis for a number of other pages. In Dreamweaver context, it means the common part of a page that cannot be changed other than through the original template itself. Also means a website that is sold as a partially constructed item but with a generic look and content. The site is then made into an individual website by adding in unique graphics and text


The passage of components of a website across the Internet. Usually means the number of visitors to a website but can include spiders and other web software


The transfer of files from a PC up to a web server


Uniform Resource Locator (previously Universal Resource Locator). The name given to the unique address by which a web page can be referred. Usually taken to mean a web address


Screen resolution of 640 pixels x 480 pixels

VoIP(Voice over IP)

A method for making phone calls using the Internet infrastructure. Usually made from one PC to another using a pair of headphones and a microphone but becoming more common from special phones

Web design

The design and build of a web site. Determining what the website will look like, what pages it will have and what will be on them.


A person who manages and updates one or more websites

Web page

A single page within a website


The space taken up by a website. Usually on a remote server within a hosting company's premises


The scheme whereby it is possible to find out who owns and manages a web domain. By typing a domain name into the WHOIS web interface, it's possible to see who owns a site, when it was registered, through whom and it's current status


XGA. Screen resolution of 1024 pixels x 768 pixels

Useful links for additional help and information:

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