How to Talk Web Development: Tools and Terms: Part 1

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Have a meeting with a web developer on the books and worried you won’t understand what they’re talking about?

No need to fret!

This comprehensive guide will teach you all the basic terms and knowledge you’ll need to know.


Web design and web development is a complicated space.

Everything has an acronym, and every developer is different with how many “techy” words they use.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the more basic ones that every developer will use.

For a more technical guide check out our knowledge base for an upcoming article.

So without further ado, here are some of the more likely terms you’ll come across when talking with a web dev.

CMS – Content Management System

A content management system is the back end of your website. For us here at Rycob, we primarily use either WordPress or Shopify, depending on the needs of your project. This is the place where you go make changes to your site, add products, etc.

For a breakdown of what we think are some of the best CMS’s out there check out our post!

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is the term used to refer to how a website performs on search results, in particular, Google. Under this term, you’ll likely hear a couple of additional terms. For a complete list of all terms SEO, check out this article: Every SEO Term You’ll need to know in 2020, or check out our knowledge base section completely dedicated to SEO here!


A host is the place where your website will live. Think of it as your house. Everything you have that identifies you as you are likely in your house. Same with your website. There is a monstrous amount of web hosts around nowadays so it can seem overwhelming to pick one. We here at Rycob choose to use Siteground, but there are many others. some more technical and more capable, others more expensive but better for beginners. we will in time have an article coming out breaking down our favourite web hosts for each situation. But until then you can check out our knowledge base!


If a host is your house your domain is like your address. Its what you type in the top bar of your browser as the way to find your website. For example, our domain is Type that into your top bar and it will go to our homepage.


A server is what a host has that your website lives on. There are a bunch of specifications with these and the better the server the more traffic your website can handle, but also the more expensive. For most hosting plans you’ll see “shared hosting” or “shared server”. This just means that there are multiple websites on one server, instead of one website per server. This has the advantage of making hosting on these servers cheaper but also means your website can’t handle as much traffic as if it had the server by itself. For small or new sites this works just fine though!


The back-end is the parts of the website that isn’t seen on your screen when the webpage loads. This could be stuff that has happens on the server, configuration of email, or anything like that. Everything that makes the website run without being clickable, or, most of the time, visible. Think about the finding of search results on Google for this. You type in a search phrase and in return it sends you results. but how it finds those results are all done on the back-end.


The front-end of a website is the part of the website that loads on your screen. Think about the part of Google where you type in your search or scroll through the results. This is the front-end. It has clickable links, a visual element, a menu, etc. All the things you know a website to be. That is the front-end.


The database is where the bulk of the information on a website is stored in the back-end. Think of it as a series of tables, with each table being a different thing. Table 1 is the fonts you use, table 2 is the colours you use. Everything and everything that is on your site is in your database somewhere.


PHP or Personal Home Page Tools is a programming language many web devs use for back-end tasks on a website. It changes how large of a file you can upload to the site, security, what type of compression is used, etc. PHP is the backbone of the back-end.


MySQL or My Structured Query Language is the programming language used by web developers to change and find things in your database. Most commonly this is used to bulk redirect things. For example, if your website name changed from to, a web developer would be able to use MySQL to change everywhere on your website from to without having to completely redo the website.


CSS or Cascading Style Sheet is a programming language that web devs use for, you guessed it, styling. Pretty much every change on the front-end of a website can be accomplished by CSS. This includes changing the colour of certain items, changing the layout of a table, and everything in between. If a website is a face, CSS changes the colour of the eyes or the hair.


HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the primary language of a website. It’s the programming language that makes a website a website. Everything from graphics to links to menus is built using HTML. Back to the face analogy, if CSS changes the colour of the eyes and hair, HTML changes the entire shape of the face.

You may see “HTML5” instead of HTML. This is the fifth iteration of HTML and is just the modern version of HTML. They are the same thing, just one is more specific than the other.


This covers all of the most basic terms you’ll come across when talking to a web dev, so you’ll at least have a basic understanding of what you’re paying for when bringing your business into the digital world.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of other terms that web devs use daily.

So if there is a term not covered in this article that you have a question about, leave it in the comments.

We’ll be sure to make follow up parts so that you can go into any meeting prepared!

For more…

For more about some of the tools web devs use, check out our article “5 tools every Web Developer needs in 2020“, or for more information to help you get all of the knowledge you need; check out our latest article, or our full knowledge base!

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