Website Environment Vocabulary

by | Feb 22, 2022

An Analogy for the Ages

Are you overwhelmed by terminologies when editing or updating your website? We get it—you probably hear developers and digital marketers tossing terms like “CMS,” “SSL certificates,” and “hosting providers” around like everyone knows what they’re talking about. It can be a lot to unpack, but luckily, we’re going to break it down for you so it can make a little bit more sense.

Here are some of the most common terms you’ll run across when working on the back end of websites:

a series of mailboxes on the side of a street

Domain Name

A domain name is like your home address. This is where people know to find you on the web.

For example, typing in “” is like sending a letter to “PO Box 123, Chambersburg Rd, Gettysburg, PA 17325.”


lawn statue of a USPS worker


DNS stands for Domain Name System. Think of this as a postal worker; this is the back-end work that directs your visitors to the right place on the web.

Mail (website traffic) is addressed to a physical address (the domain) and the postal worker brings the mail to a physical mailing address with a building (website).

person holding a phone with latitude and longitude coordinates

IP Address

IP stands for “internet protocol.” IP addresses are unique identifiers on the internet. You can think of these like latitude and longitude coordinates.

If you move, you can keep the same PO Box (domain) pointing to a different street address (IP address). You can also set up forwards and redirects—just like the USPS.

a bird's eye view of the foundation of a home on a property


Think of a hosting provider as the property that your house sits on. You purchase a piece of “land” that you use to store your site. In this analogy, the “land” you buy is just a portion of the hosting provider’s server space.


security cameras outside a building


SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer.” An SSL is a security certificate.

Imagine that this is a security system on your property. SSLs protect your website and its users from malicious attacks. Google punishes websites that don’t have SSLs and discourages users from going to those sites, so this is an absolute necessity for all websites.


small white house on a fall day


CMS stands for Content Management System.

This is like the physical house on the property. It comes as an undecorated structure but it’s got some basic common features. The CMS gives your “house” (website) shape.


a well-designed living room with plants and chic decor


Most content management systems (like WordPress) use themes. Themes are like using an interior designer before you move into a house. They make some aesthetic changes that give you something to work with, so you aren’t starting from scratch. A theme follows the same concept—it’s essentially a shortcut to make your “house” (website) more aesthetically pleasing and move-in ready.

a sleek, modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances


WordPress plugins are like appliances in your home. You add things like refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, washers and dryers, etc. to your home to beef up its functionality and make it easier to live there.

Plugins are just shortcuts to accomplish various tasks more efficiently and quickly.

Getting Started on Your Site

Next time you hear these terms, think back to these analogies. Website terminology may seem like complicated tech-speak at first, but it won’t be long before you feel like a pro. Be sure to check out our useful tips for creating effective websites and web pages, too.

Looking to update or revamp your website? You don’t have to do it alone. Partner with Graphcom for expertise in web development, web design, and more. Whether you need a guiding hand or for us to take the lead, we’re always excited to help our clients build and maintain the site of their dreams.

You Deserve a Great Website.

Graphcom can bring your website to the next level. Let’s talk!

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