Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Website Terminology: Words You Need to Understand to Make a Free Website

Before you can start making your free website, there are few important terms to learn. Many website builders and design services use them, and not knowing what they mean can cost you. I will be using a house analogy to better communicate each part of the website - keep in mind, the house is your finished website.


The first part of a website most people talk about is the domain. I've had many clients refer to it as the name of the website because that is their ".COM" but the domain is more akin to the address of your house. It tells the browser window where to go find your website which is why you type it into the address bar in your browser.

Other names for it include URL and web address. While some still refer to the website's domain name your .COM, we now have many more extensions such as .info, .biz, and .guide.

A unique domain (such as yourcoolbusiness.com) will cost you, normally through a company such as GoDaddy or NameCheap. Most website builders, however, offer a free sub-domain through their service. Your domain will then look like yourwebsite.service.com or service.com/yourwebsite. For example, this website is currently using a sub-domain through Blogger (Blogspot). The biggest downsides to a sub-domain can be with branding your website if it has another name like Weebly.com attached to it; and the unique name you want for your domain may already be taken.


Hosting can be likened to the plot of land where you build your house - it is the space your website takes up on the company's server. However, unlike your plot of land, you will probably have to pay constantly for hosting from a company like HostGator. Hosting prices are based on how often you pay (monthly vs annually), the amount of space used, speed, and whether you share the server with other websites.

The good news is that free hosting is normally included with free website platforms like Wix and Weebly. Though some, like Webs.com, may have limitations on the size of the website.


Choosing the platform where you build your site is like choosing the company that will build your house. Ultimately, you will have a house, but each company has a their own system, practices and techniques. In the same way, free website builders use different techniques and include different features for building a website. When you choose your platform, you will have to become accustomed to their online builder in order to build and later edit your site.

Platforms include Wordpress, Squarespace, Blogger, Tumblr, Wix and many more. I will be adding blog posts reviewing my recommended platforms in the coming weeks.


This term refers to the way you can build your site on many platforms - by physically dragging in pictures, text boxes and different elements. Not all free website platforms are drag and drop but many are for it's ease.


HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, and is the standard language for creating websites. HTML makes up the structure of your website in very much the same way wood, cement, sheetrock and electrical cables make up the structure of your house.

While there are a few tags that are smart to know if you're going to be building or editing a website, you don't have to know this language to build your site. Website builders work by interpreting your design into to HTML that browsers can then read and render.


If HTML is your walls, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the wallpaper, the carpet, the tile you imported from Italy. CSS is a language that describes the style of an HTML document, it tells the browser how the HTML elements should be displayed. A website does not need CSS to exist, but CSS makes your website stylish, resizes and positions images, and can make the whole website respond to the size of the screen (i.e. mobile).


According to ComScore's Media Metrix, in 2015, 78% of the digital population accessed the internet on their phones or tablets as well as their computers. This number continues to increase as smartphone prices drop and mobile companies give them away for free. Responsive design refers to your website's ability to respond to the size of the screen. Your website should look just as good on a 2" smartphone screen as it does on a 16" laptop screen. You may have already seen this at play when you access a website your phone (after seeing it on a home computer) and it adjusts the content to fit the smaller screen.

Nowadays, free website platforms have responsive design built into their services. Some allow you to edit how the page will look like on mobile, others don't. I will also be covering this in my platform reviews and recommendations.


Your browser is the window that allows you to access the great variety of websites that exist on the internet. It takes the URL that you type into the address bar and interprets website code into pretty pictures and text. The most common browsers are Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer (the "e" icon that comes with Windows). While browser creators try to abide by the same "internet design rules," there can be a few, small differences when they interpret a website's code. Internet Explorer, historically, has had the most issues when interpreting websites by the standards the others follow.

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