Basic Web Terms

glossaryFor some of us, terms like “domain,” “url,” “web host,” and “blog” are natural parts of our daily conversations. We take it for granted that everyone understands what they mean but the reality is, there are still lots of people who don’t really get all those words.

So, here is a list of some basic Internet terms that you need to know if you are thinking of starting your own web site, in the order I think you’re most likely to encounter them.


    • Domain (aka URL) – the address of a particular website. This is the text name that corresponds to the numeric address (IP address) of a computer on the Internet. Basically, this is what you type into your browser to get to a website (i.e., A domain name must be registered with an accredited domain registrar so that no exact duplicates can occur. We recommend Registering your domain name is the first step in getting your own website or blog.


    • Host – the computer where the files that make up your website reside. Web hosting companies specialize in providing space on computers that are connected to the Internet 24/7 so that your website can be accessed at any time. In order to have a website, you need to sign up for a web hosting account, or provide your own server that is connected to the Internet at all times. Most people go the web hosting account route.


    • Nameservers (aka DNS) – the setting at your web host that connects your domain name with your IP address, so that when someone types in your domain name, the correct page comes up. When you sign up for a hosting account, your welcome email will contain the correct Nameserver setting, which you need to set at your domain name registrar.Once you have your domain registered, a web hosting account and your nameservers set up, you are ready to start building a website or blog.


    • Blog (aka Weblog) – a web site or part of a web site displaying posts most commonly in a reverse-chronological order.


    • WordPress – software that provides an easy to use, dynamic website that can be maintained entirely via a web-based administration screen, and which automatically updates the site without need for writing HTML. WordPress is currently the reigning champion of blogging software because it is free, easy to use, powerful, flexible and has a thriving community for support and expansion. It can be used for blogging, but also for business, hobby and other types of websites.


    • vs. – Basically, is a free version of the WordPress software on someone else’s account and under someone else’s control. is where you go to download the WordPress software which you can then upload to your own server (at your web hosting account) and use to run your blog or website. Watch for a post coming soon with a full comparison of these.


  • RSS – RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Basically, it is a way to receive notifications automatically whenever a site posts an update, so you don’t have to keeping coming back to check. It can save you lots of time and keep you updated effortlessly. You sign up for RSS at sites you want to be notified by, then access your notifications in an RSS Reader. There are many readers available, most free. I like Google Reader because it is free and easy to use, but there are lots of others. Just search for RSS reader. To add a site to your RSS Reader, just find the RSS button or link on the site you are interested in.
    RSS IconLook for this commonly accepted and widely used symbol for RSS, or some variation of it. Also, note that some sites will just have a regular text link.For an easy to understand description of RSS, see this article – How to Explain RSS the Oprah Way

I’m definitely forgetting some things here. Feel free to ask about other terms you are unsure about in the comments and I’ll update this post to make it more complete.

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