Many companies are looking to perform a website redesign in the near future. However, many marketers feel like they are hearing a foreign language when website designers and developers begin meeting with them.

web design and development terms to know

If you are considering a website redesign, here a few terms that designers and developers use that you may not be familiar with. Hopefully this will help you feel more prepared as you begin to meet with prospective agencies for your next big redesign.

Web Terms to Know

301 redirect – A permanent redirect from one URL to another, usually from your old website to the new website. 301 redirects are also used to redirect traffic from old web pages to the new pages that have taken their place. (e.g. “” is now “” on the new website.

404 – A page a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your website. Usually this is due to someone reaching a page that has been deleted or they have mistyped the URL. An effective 404 error page should communicate why the page doesn’t exist and what users can do next.

ALT attribute – Used to specify the alternate text that is displayed inside the image placeholder while the page is loading. ALT text plays a role in optimizing a website for SEO, ADA compliance and overall web accessibility.

Breakpoints – The points at which a website’s content will adjust to provide the user with the best possible layout to view content. In responsive design (see term below), breakpoints are often defined by device widths that are being targeted. These are typically smart phone (usually at 320px and 480px), tablet (768px and 1024px) and anything above 1024px.

Call to Action (CTA) – Specific text, image, banner or button that uses persuasive, action-oriented words that urges a visitor on a website to act. CTAs are designed to move a visitor from one page to the next and persuade them to take an expected, predetermined action. (e.g. Download a Whitepaper, Register for a Webinar, Contact Us, Learn More, etc.).

Cookies – A small text file sent which includes an anonymous unique identifier and visit information that is sent to a browser from a website and stored on a visitor’s computer hard drive. This data can provide information about who visits the website, how often they visit, what parts of the site they visit the most and their preferences.

Content Management System (CMS) – A software system that is used to control the content on your website. This allows you to login into the “backend” of your website and edit the text and images. Some examples include WordPress and Drupal. A CMS is designed to simplify the publication of website content, without requiring technical knowledge of HTML or the uploading of files.

Conversion – When a user takes a specific desired action related to online marketing and lead generation. This includes completing a web form, submitting a request for information, subscribing to a newsletter or making an ecommerce purchase.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the code that developers use to designate how a web page should be presented to the end user. It formats the look and feel of your website, and sets global styles for fonts, colors, images, menus, etc.

Domain – The name of the website that people type into a browser to visit it. For example, our domain is

Favicon – A small icon image that is associated with a specific website, usually containing the company logo or a variation. The favicon is displayed in either the title bar or tab of the browser and also appears with bookmarks.

Hosting – The web servers where your website files are housed, served, and maintained. A web server is a computer running web server software connected to the Internet that allows visitors to access a website through an Internet-connected web browser or mobile device.

HTML – Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the markup language that is used to construct web pages and display content like text, images, video and links on the web. It’s often used in conjunction with other languages that allow the web developer to add functionality, such as CSS, PHP and JavaScript. HTML code refers to the markup language that is used to build web pages.

Information Architecture (IA) – The information design, organization of content and navigation of a website. It typically includes a site map, wireframes for each page template and any necessary notations regarding navigation, content and features included on the site.

Meta Tag – An HTML tag that stores information about a web page, such as description, author, copyright, etc. Their function is to provide information about a web page and it’s content. Search engines use this information to categorize websites and display information in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Navigation – The navigational elements that appear on a website. While it primarily refers to the “menu bar” located at the top of a website or along either side, it can also include textual links at the bottom of the page.

Page template – A unique page layout for a website, specifically websites that are built using content management systems. On average, a website has 5-10 page templates. For example, the homepage and contact page of a website look different and contain different elements, therefore they are two different page templates.

Registrar – The company used to register your domain name. Some examples include GoDaddy or Network Solutions.

Responsive design – A website that adjusts to the screen it is being viewed on, whether desktop, mobile or smart phone. Media queries are used to figure out the resolution of the device the website is being displayed on. Then, flexible images, fluid grids and the site menu are adjusted to fit the screen.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Helping search engines understand the information on your website in order to rank higher in organic search results. This includes having title tags, meta descriptions and ALT tags for images on your website.

Slider – A rotating banner of images that is usually placed on the homepage of a website. It is a “slide show” type format that can highlight different content and include images or video.

Site map – A document that shows a global, hierarchical view of a website’s pages and content. This is usually one of the first steps in a website redesign, as it is important to know what content is needed on a website before design begins. A site map can also be a web page that offers links to all the pages within a website.

User experience – The interaction a user has with an interface. From a planning perspective, the user experience is typically defined in wireframes, but every aspect of the web design and development process—from wireframing to copywriting to design to programming—affects the user experience.

Wireframe – A visual guide to show the content of a web page without any design elements. It suggests the structure of a page without any graphics or text. This helps to focus on the layout of content and hierarchy, without being distracted by the design.

WYSIWYG – Stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” It’s the interface inside a CMS that applies styles to text and graphics and allows the user to see what the content will look like. This allows marketers to edit content in their website without coding knowledge.

By learning this vocabulary, it will help with speaking with your web design agency and understanding the language. While your agency will certainly help you through the process, knowing these words can help make the process smoother and save time (and money).