The WordPress Designer’s Glossary

New to designing WordPress sites? Then there are probably one or two (or twenty) words that you should start getting familiar with. Follow along with this glossary to simplify the jargon and make sense of some of these new terms. And if you’re ready to learn more, check out the links to master this vocab and become a WordPress pro.

Accessibility – In web design, accessibility refers to the ability to make your website easy for every user to access. This includes planning for users with disabilities so that everyone can access the information you’re trying to share.

Archive page – The WordPress archive page is a collection of the site’s old content. Usually these pages are organized by month, category, or tags, but you can also create a custom archive page and sort by whatever you’d like.

Back-end – When you log into your WordPress site, the dashboard is considered the back-end. This area is private to you and any other admins or contributers; your average site visitor cannot access it.

Backlink – A backlink is just a link from one website to another. So if you link to a friend’s blog, or they link to yours, that counts. Generally, they’re great for SEO.

Backup – A backup is basically a copy of your WordPress site; a clone of the files, database, theme, etc. It’s incredibly important to take a backup of your site before making any major changes to it, so you don’t lose any of your hard-earned work.

Below the fold – This is an old term that stems from the world of journalism and print media. The idea is that you want your most important information at the top of the page; anything below the fold could be missed by the user.

Bounce rate – Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing just one page. In other words, the lower your bounce rate, the better.

Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are a type of secondary navigation that help users know where they are on your site. The most common form look something like this: Home > Blog > WordPress Designer’s Glossary.

Caching – Caching is a method of serving visitors a fixed HTML file, instead of the server having to build the page for your browser every time. This helps your site load faster, which your users will love.

Categories – WordPress categories can be whatever you want; they’re just there to help you organize your content. You could use categories as topics, dates, types of content, etc. The only default category is “Uncategorized” so the options are truly endless.

Child Theme – If you want to customize a theme, building a child theme is the way to do it. Child themes use existing themes (parent themes) to build off of and allow you to add or remove your own code. Then if the parent theme is updated, you won’t lose your customizations.

CMS – A Content Management System (CMS) is an application that allows you to modify website content from a single interface. And if you’re reading this, you already know of one of the most popular applications: WordPress.

Codex – The Codex is the all-inclusive online manual for all things WordPress. You can find documentation for everything that pertains to WordPress there, so if you have a question, The Codex can probably answer it, or at least give you more information.

Comments – Comments in WordPress are just like comments on Facebook or other sites. They allow users to interact with your content, unless you don’t want them to, in which case you can disable comments.

Core – The WordPress core is the foundation upon which every single WordPress site is built. It only has one rule: don’t mess with it!

Customizer – The Customizer allows you to preview and modify you site’s appearance including colors, widgets, header, and more.

Dashboard – The Dashboard is the screen you see when you log in to your WordPress site. You can customize the widgets that appear on the Dashboard, giving you the perfect overview of your site.

eCommerce – Want to sell things on your site? Then you’ll need to build an eCommerce site, just an online store.

Excerpt – WordPress excerpts act as summaries for your post. They allow you to share a short blurb about your content and then encourage users to click to read more.

Favicon – Look up at your browser tabs. See the small logo? That’s a favicon. Typically you’ll use your site logo as your favicon so users always remember what site they’re on.

Footer – Next, look down, all the way at the bottom of your site. That’s the WordPress footer, where you can add a footer navigation, copyright information, and more.

Front-end – The front-end of a website is everything that the average user can see, like your home page, contact form, and blog. The changes you make in the back-end will affect the front-end.

Gravatar – Gravatars are the pictures that appear next to someone’s name when they interact with a site, like leaving a comment. They’re completely optional, and you have to sign up for a Gravatar first.

Hooks – WordPress hooks are a way to extend the functionality of a standard WordPress site by doing “behind the scenes” work. There are two main types of hooks, action and filter, and are very important for plugin and theme development.

Landing page – A landing page is a specific page created to target your users for a specific purpose. Typically they promote a single product or try to capture information from the user, such as their email address.

Malware – Malware is malicious software that is used by hackers to disable or damage your site. AKA, if your site gets infected, it’s bad news.

Metadata – Metadata is extra information about the content within your WordPress site. Post type, categories, and tags are all examples.

  • Add metadata to categories
  • Title, caption, alt text, and description: Harnessing the power of WordPress image metadata

Navigation bar – The navigation bar is how users navigate through your site; typically it includes links to the most important pages and can be found at the top of a site.

Open source – Open source software is source code that is freely available to the public to be used or modified. WordPress is open source, which is why it is free to use and why anyone can build a theme or plugin.

Pages – WordPress pages are the pages that make up your site. Use these to make about pages, contact pages, and more.

Pageview – Pageviews are the number of times a page has been viewed. If you have a page that’s received a high number of pageviews, you know it’s performing well.

Parallax – Parallax design is a fairly recent trend in web design. These are sites in which the user typically scrolls to view content and usually consist of lots of visual content.

Permalink – Short for “permanent link,” permalinks are the URLs associated with the posts on your site. These make it easy to always find a piece of content, even if it’s not current.

Pingback – Pingbacks are notifications that are automatically sent when someone links to one of your blog posts (or you link to someone else’s). They appear as a comment on that post.

Plugins – Plugins are another way to add functionality to your WordPress site. These are pieces of software that you install on your site, and then control through the dashboard.

Posts – Posts are used to publish articles to your WordPress site’s blog. You can assign categories, add media, or keep them simple with text.

Responsive layout – Today, people are viewing websites on desktop computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Responsive layouts ensure that your site looks good on any screen size so every user can find the information they need.

Shortcode – WordPress shortcodes allow you to insert PHP or HTML into posts to add additional functionality. Once you get the hang of creating them, they’re a very quick way to add some customizations to your site.

Staging sites – Once your site is live, you may not want to test changes on it in case something breaks. Staging sites are basically the experimental clone of your site; if something breaks while you’re testing it, it doesn’t matter because it’s not the real site.

Tags – Tags are essentially keywords about your content. While categories might broadly classify content, tags can be more specific.

Themes – WordPress themes control the appearance of your site. There are thousands of themes available for download, or you can build your own.

Trackbacks -Trackbacks are similar to pingbacks in that they notify other sites when you link to them. The difference is that they must be created manually, and they include an excerpt of your content.

White space – White space, or negative space, is empty space on your site without any form of content. Including white space in your design will help with readability and can help highlight important areas of your site.

WYSIWYG Editor – The What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) Editor allows you to format posts and pages exactly as you want. What you see in the editor is what you’ll get once you hit publish.

301 redirect – Let’s say you have an old page on your site but you’d rather have visitors go to a new page. Instead of deleting the old page, you can add a 301 redirect to lead visitors directly to the new page.

404 page – A 404 page is the page that appears when someone tries to find something on your site that doesn’t exist. Usually they say something like, “Sorry! We can’t find the page you’re looking for.”

That’s it for The WordPress Designer’s Glossary. Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Let us know what words you wish were in the list so we can update it!

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