If you’re ready to have a real conversation about your website, get familiar with some of the lingo of the website world. We’ll cover website basics for small businesses, starting with the top 10 website terms every business owner should know.
Have you ever been in a conversation and it turns to something you know nothing about?
You have a few choices at that point. Essentially, you can leave the conversation, pretend you know what you’re talking about even when you don’t, or you can get engaged and try to understand what’s going on.
When it comes to websites, a lot of business owners pretend they know what they’re talking about because they don’t want to be taken advantage of. Yet what they should do is take some time to get familiar with some of the lingo of the website world.
While it’s crazy to expect you to have expert level information, knowing at least the basics of what you’re talking about will serve you well.
That’s why you’re here!
You’re going to learn website basics for small businesses, starting with the top 10 website terms every business owner should know.
Let’s get started!
A domain is the unique name used to identify the location of your website. When you look at a website address or URL, the domain is what’s between the www and before any forward slashes in the address. For example, the address for this blog post is <<link>>, and the domain is stormlily.com.
Why do you need to know this? You need to own the domain you’re going to use for your website.
The good news is that services like Google Domains and GoDaddy make this process pretty simple! (Everyone has their personal preferences, but if you ask me, Google Domains is the way to go right now.)
A little bonus info for you. You can use more than one domain to send people to the same website. For example, if you type in www.stormlily.com, you’ll be sent to my www.stormlilysolutions.com website.
A website host is essentially the way your website is made available to the world on the internet. A host provides a server that houses all of your website files. It’s like the home base for all the data and information for your website and then it allows people to find it online.
When it comes to websites, you essentially have two options: hosted or self-hosted.
Self-hosted uses an open-source software that gives you almost limitless customization options. Yet it also makes you responsible for every single detail related to your website such as back-ups, security updates, etc.
By contrast, a hosted website uses a specific website builder which may limit your customization options. Yet it also relieves you from having to be the technical support and manager for your own website. Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace are great examples of hosted website services.
There’s really no one-size-fits-all best option here as it depends on a variety of factors, including your overall goals for your website and the time and/or team members you have available to manage your website over the long-term.
A website builder is exactly that—a platform used to build a website. If you choose to self-host your website, the most common self-hosted website is built using WordPress.org. On a WordPress website, you’ll also learn about themes which help set the overall design of your site as well as plug-ins which give you customization options.
If you elect to use a hosted service, then Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace are some of the most common website builder options you’ll hear. On each of these platforms, you’ll start with a template that most closely matches what you need from your website and then customize the site from there. Some website builders such as Wix also include other services such as email marketing, invoicing and payments, and customer management.
You don't need to know the words each letter stands for as much as you need to know the “s” at the end of HTTPS in a web address tells you it’s a secure site which means it has a security certificate.
Have you ever noticed the “lock” icon that shows up in the address bar of your website browser? That’s letting you know that you’re on a website that’s secure. In other words, the information that’s being transmitted from this site to any other network is secure and encrypted.
For the majority of hosted websites, a security certificate is automatically included as part of the package you pay for. For self-hosted websites, your host may have differing levels of security to choose from.
If you’re not planning to sell anything online, you may think you don’t need to worry about this. However, if you’re asking for any contact information from your website visitors like an email address, you’re going to want it.
Plus, in recent years, Google has said it will be less likely to show pages that are not secure in their search results. And you want to show up in the results when people search for your business!
Website content refers to the material on your website, from the visual elements to the text elements.
Why would you need to know this as a business owner? When you’re interviewing the person who’s going to manage the creation of your new website, they’re going to ask who is providing the content. The way you answer will impact the quote they give you.
Sometimes business owners think, “I don’t need any content. Just put the basics on there.”
First of all, that’s never true. You want pictures on your website, right? Well, if you’re not sending the pictures to be used, then someone has to spend time looking for the right photos. Not to mention all the words on your site, but we’ll get to that next.
The second reason you don’t want a “Just put the basics on there” attitude about your website is that your website has the potential to be more than just an information page. It can actually help you grow your business!
Your content can make or break a great website. So, when you get asked, “Who’s providing the content?” make sure you have the right answer for your business.
The copy on your website means all the words on every page of the site. From the homepage to the about page and service or product descriptions, the copy on your website is how you’re communicating your value to potential customers. In other words, it matters greatly!
Most website designers don’t write the copy for your website. Instead, they’ll get started with the design once they receive a document from you that outlines your plans for website navigation and has all the words for the website.
If you’re preparing to build a website, be sure you include these four elements that will help you convert your website visitors to your customers.
To “wireframe a website” means the entire plan for the website is laid out in one document. Most often, that includes
What will go in the navigation menu
A list of all the pages on the website and how visitors will get from one page to another
The content and copy that will go on each page, including headings, paragraphs, and calls to action.
Of course, when the website is designed, the copy can be edited again, but wireframing the website allows you to start the website design process with a plan.
SEO stands for search engine optimization which is essentially how to get your website to show up in online search results. SEO experts solely focus on trying to get your website to show up at the top of search results.
However, there are also basic SEO practices such as page titles and descriptions, indexing your website, and using alt-text to describe your images that will help you to be sure Google knows where to find you.
Responsive and adaptive refers to how your website will show up on different screen sizes.
Responsive means the images and text will dynamically change based on the screen size. The website is the same, but the elements will resize depending on what device is being used.
An adaptive website essentially has two different versions–a desktop version and a mobile version. They aren’t completely different in terms of design but there may be elements that work well on desktop that aren’t a fit for mobile. Having an adaptive website allows you to be sure it looks great when viewed on all devices.
Remember, about half of website traffic is on mobile devices so how your website looks on tablets and mobile screens matters.
This last one may not be on every other website terms list you’ll find online, but it’s one of the most important if you want your website to actually work for you.
An opt-in offer is when you provide something valuable in exchange for an email address. Your freebie might be a printable, coupon, or even a how-to guide; it should be valuable and connect your visitors with your business. And then your website visitors “opt in” to receiving your emails.
Why does this matter? This is how you’ll use your website to build your qualified email list of leads!
There you have it! You don’t have to pretend you know what you’re talking about anymore. You’re now well-versed in website basics for small businesses.
Are there any terms you think were left off? Anything you’ve heard or read about that you’d like to learn about? Just let me know. I’d love to help!
I’m here to make your website marketing work for you so that you can keep doing what you love to do!