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Key terms you need to know when planning a website

In jargon laden industries like website development it pays to knows some of the key jargon. While a good developer will keep things clear and non technical, you’re bound to come across the odd bit of technical speak.

Getting to grips with your website requirements is seen as an annoyance by many. Nearly half of small business owners don’t have a website, saying they don’t need one, don’t understand them or think them too expensive. Well, small businesses do need a website; up to 60% of customers stop considering a company if they can’t find a website for them. While the cost for a website of course depends on the specification and the provider, a reputable and skilled developer will offer excellent value for money. As for not understanding, well I can help with that! Here’s a run-down of the technical terms you’re likely to come across when planning a website.


Websites don’t run “on their own”, they have to sit on a server, which needs an operating system which then needs website management software. The “platform” is all of these things as a package. If you ask the question “what platform are you based on?” the answer might be “Dell PowerEdge running Ubuntu”. As a small business you shouldn’t really have to worry about this, your developer or host will handle this.


Content Management System. This is the framework on which your site is built. You’ve almost certainly heard of WordPress – which is an example of an CMS. There are many, many, more CMS options depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your site. Some focus on ecommerce (Shopify, CraftCommerce, Magento) while some focus on ease of use for the end user or flexibility of content. Once you’ve done a website specification document it’ll become clearer what your needs are.

This term comes from the historical fact that, once-upon-a-time, you needed a developer to manually edit code just to produce a post on a site or make tiny changes. Nowadays a CMS will allow anyone to produce and upload content. Hence the name “Content Management”.

Responsive Design

Websites used to be viewed on one thing, a computer. Now they are viewed on a host of devices including mobiles, tablets and computers; all at different resolutions. Responsive design is the art of getting a website looking its best on all the devices your users may choose to use while accessing your site. This is especially important now that search engines place such an emphasis on sites working well on mobile.

Payment Gateway

If you plan on taking payment on your website, via a basket or shopping cart or similar mechanism, you’ll need a payment gateway. These allow you to take card payments either directly or via a third party like PayPal. It’s important to note that by taking payments you offer yourself up to a raft of legislation. Make sure you select the right provider of payment services for your needs. Your developer may well be able to offer assistance.

While there is much more to a website than these few terms I’ve included here, these represent the most common technical elements you’ll butt up against. Keeping the design and build process clear and transparent is something I strive hard to do, but you can’t avoid all the technical jargon in this business! For a non-techy chat about your website, do feel free to get in touch via my contact page.