A Guide to WordPress Terms

Getting started in creating a new website for your organization can be intimidating. The first barrier most people encounter is the industry jargon (terminology) Developers & Designers use. There will be some that are completely unfamiliar, while others have a different meanings depending on context. Here are a few of terms commonly used in the creation of a WordPress website:

Absolute Path
An absolute path or full path is a unique location of a file or directory and usually starts with the root directory or drive letter.
Admin Bar
The admin bar is header area just above your website that lists useful admin links such as add new content or edit the page your on. Each user can turn on (or off) the admin bar in your profile.
Apache is a robust, feature full, and open source HTTP Web server software. It is the most commonly used web server on the internet. It is also the backbone of WordPress-powered sites.
An array is one of the basic data structures used in computer programming. An array contains a list of items such as numbers or other values. Arrays allow programmers to access data within.
A standard but limited character set containing only English letters, numbers, a few common symbols, and common English punctuation marks. ASCII is short for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.
An avatar is a graphic image or picture that represents a user.
Back End
The back end is the area that authorized users can sign into to add, remove and modify content on the website. This may also be referred to as the "admin" or the "administration area”.
A blog or weblog, is an online journal, diary, or series published by a person or organization.
Blogging is the act of writing a blog.
A list of links to blog posts on your website or other websites. The default blogroll (aka links) included in WordPress was removed in version 3.5.
A variable or expression which evaluates to either true or false.
Each post in WordPress is filed under a category. Thoughtful categorization allows posts to be grouped with others of similar content and aids in the navigation of a website.
A capability is permission to perform tasks within the website. Each user of a WordPress site might have some permissions but not others, dependant on their role.
Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a specification for server-side communication scripts designed to transfer information between a web server and a web browser. Typically, HTML pages that collect data via forms use CGI programming to process the form data once the client submits it.
Classes are CSS styles which are applied to HTML elements.
Comments are a feature of blogs which allow readers to respond to posts. You can control and regulate comments by filters for language and content. Comments can be queued for approval before they are visible on the website. These settigns are something you will want to consider if you decide ot allow comments.
Content is the text, images, or other information in the body section of your website. This is separate from the structure of a web site, which provides a template into which the content is inserted, and the presentation of a site.
Content Management System
A Content Management System (CMS), is software for facilitating the maintenance of content on a web site. WordPress is an example of a Content Management System.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), is a W3C open standards programming language for specifying how a webpage is presented. It allows web site designers to create formatting and layout for a web site independently of its content.
The Dashboard is the administration screen for a website or a network of sites. It summarizes information about the site or network, and also external information, in one or more widgets that the Dashboard user can enable, disable, and move around.
A database in computing terms is software used to manage information in an organized fashion. WordPress uses the MySQL relational database management system for storing and retrieving the content.
Default theme
Every installation of WordPress has a default theme. The default theme is sometimes called the fallback theme, because if the active theme is for some reason lost or deleted, WordPress will fallback to using the default theme.
Deprecated functions or template tags are no longer supported, and will soon be obsolete.
The domain name system (DNS), is the system that maps domain names to IP addresses. When you use a web browser to visit a website, your browser first extracts the site's domain name from the URL. Then it uses the DNS to find the IP address for that domain name. Then it connects to that IP address.
Domain name
A domain name is a name used for identification purposes on the Internet. The Internet's domain name system (DNS) maps the domain name to a server's IP address. Many domain names can map to the same IP address, allowing a single server to run many websites.
The draft post status is for WordPress posts which are saved, but as yet unpublished. A draft post can only be edited through the Administration Panel, by users of equal or greater User Level than the post's author.
An excerpt is a condensed description of your blog post. The excerpt is used to describe your post in RSS feeds and is typically used in displaying search results. The excerpt is sometimes used in displaying the Archives and Category views of your posts.
A feed is a function that allows "Feedreaders" to access a site automatically looking for new content and then posting the information about new content and updates to another site. Some Feeds include RSS (Really Simple Syndication), Atom or RDF files.
Footer area
An area provided by a theme for displaying information other than the main content of the web page. Footer areas usually contain widgets that an administrator of the site can customize. Footer area is located at the bottom of the page.
Front End
The front end is what your visitors see and interact with when they come to your website.
An exposition of images attached to a post. In the uploader there is a "Gallery" tab that shows all the uploads attached to the post you are editing. When you have more than one attachment in a post, you should see at the bottom of the Gallery tab a button marked "Insert gallery".
Hacking is the process of writing code for, or contributing code to, a piece of software.
Hooks are specified, by the developer, in Actions and Filters. Because Hooks are required by Actions and Filter you may hear the phrase "Action Hooks" and "Filter Hooks" used from time to time.
Hosting provider
The company or organization which provides, usually for a fee, infrastructure for making information accessible via the web. This involves the use of a web server.
A file for configuration of the Apache web server software, used to set or alter the server's configuration settings for the directory in which it is present, and/or its child directories.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), is the W3C standard language with which all web pages are built. It is often used in conjunction with CSS and/or JavaScript.
IP address
An IP address is a unique number assigned to a computer or web server to enable it to communicate with other devices using the Internet Protocol. It is a computer's identity on the internet, and every computer connected to the internet is assigned at least one.
JavaScript is a programming language that WordPress uses to make certain processing occur in your web browser when it is inconvenient or impossible for the server to do that processing.
Meta has several meanings, but generally means information about. In WordPress, meta usually refers to administrative type information. As described in Meta Tags in WordPress, meta is the HTML tag used to describe and define a web page to the outside world.
Microformats provide a way for programs to read certain information in web pages without making the pages look any different to humans. They add semantics to the generic HTML markup in order for these programs to understand the meaning of specific parts of a web page content which is better recognized by humans.
Multisite is a feature of WordPress that allows multiple websites to share a single WordPress installation. When the multisite feature is activated, the original WordPress site can be converted to support a network of sites.
MySQL is a popular open source Structured Query Language (SQL) database implementation, available for many platforms. WordPress requires a MySQL database to store all blog information, including posts, comments, metadata, and other information.
Navigation is the term used to describe text on a page that, when selected, redirects you to a corresponding page elsewhere on the website. Navigation may sometimes be referred to as the menu, links and hyperlinks.
Open Source
Open source is simply programming code that can be read, viewed, modified, and distributed, by anyone who desires. WordPress is distributed under an open source GNU General Public License (GPL).
A Page is often used to present "static" information about yourself or your site. A Page should not be confused with the time-oriented objects called posts. Pages are typically "timeless" in nature and live "outside" your blog.
A URL at which a resource or article will be permanently stored. Permalinks allow users to bookmark full articles at a URL they know will never change, and will always present the same content. Permalinks are optional in WordPress, but are highly recommended as they greatly increase the cleanliness of URL.
Permissions are security settings that restrict or allowing users to perform certain functions.
PHP is a popular server-side scripting language designed specifically for integration with HTML, and is used in Content Management Systems and other web applications.
A popular & powerful web-based interface for administering MySQL databases. It is open source, written in PHP, and is among the better tools available for working with MySQL databases.
Pingbacks let you notify the author of an article if you link to his article. If the links you include in an article you write on a blog lead to a blog which is pingback-enabled, then the author of that blog gets a notification in the form of a pingback that you linked to his article.
A group of php functions that can extend the functionality present in a standard WordPress install. These functions may all be defined in one php file, or may be spread among more than one file.
Also known as “articles” and sometimes incorrectly referred to as “blog posts”. In WordPress, “posts” are articles that you write to populate your blog.
Post Slug
A few lowercase words separated by dashes, describing a post and usually derived from the post title to create a user-friendly permalink.
Post Status
The status of a post is set in the Administration Panel. It can be either: Published (viewable by everyone), Draft (incomplete post viewable by anyone with proper user level), or Private (viewable only to WordPress users at Administrator level).
Post Type
Post type refers to the various structured data that is maintained in the WordPress posts table. Native registered post types are post, page, attachment, revision, and nav-menu-item. Custom post types allow users to easily create and manage such things as portfolios, projects, video libraries, podcasts, quotes, chats, and whatever a user or developer can imagine.
Relative Path
A relative path is the location of a file in relation to the current working directory and does not begin with a slash (/). This is different from an absolute path which gives an exact location.
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a format for syndicating many types of content, including blog entries, torrent files, video clips on news-like sites. An RSS feed can contain a summary of content or the full text, and makes it easier for people to keep up to date with your website.
Web Robots are programs which traverse the Web automatically. They are also called Web Wanderers, Web Crawlers, and Spiders. Most Web Robots look for a file named robots.txt on your web server to see what and where they should look for content and files on your web server.
A role gives users permission to perform a group of tasks. When a user logs in and is authenticated, the user's role determines which capabilities the user has, and each capability is permission to perform one or more types of task.
In WordPress a screen is a webpage used for managing part of a blog or network. The term 'screen' is used to avoid confusion with 'page', which has a specific and different meaning in WordPress.
A Shortcode is a technique for embedding a snippet of PHP code into the body of a page or other content item.
A sidebar is a vertical column provided by a theme for displaying information other than the main content of the web page. Sidebars usually contain widgets that an administrator of the site can customize.
Slugs are usually a URL friendly version of the post title, but a slug can be anything you like. Slugs are meant to be used with permalinks as they help describe what the content at the URL is.
Smileys (also called Emoticons) are stylized representations of a human face, usually displayed as yellow buttons with two dots for the eyes, and a half mouth. By default, WordPress automatically converts text smileys to graphic images.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the predecessor to Transport Layer Security. These are cryptographic protocols for secure communications across an unsecured network like the Internet.
A Tag is a keyword which describes all or part of a Post. Think of it like a Category, but smaller in scope. Like Categories, Tags are usually linked to a page which shows all Posts having the same Tag. Tags can be created on-the-fly by simply typing them into the Tag field.
A tagline is a catchy phrase that describes the character or the attributes of the blog in a brief, concise manner. Think of it as the slogan, or catchline for a weblog.
A taxonomy allows for the classification of things. In WordPress, there are two built-in taxonomies, categories and tags. These taxonomies help further classify posts and custom post types.
In WordPress a template is a file that defines an area of the web pages generated by a theme. The templates are like building blocks that make up the complete web page.
In WordPress a term is a classification, group or subset of a Taxonomy, where the latter can be a Category, Tag or Custom Taxonomy. By default, terms have a title, a slug and a description. Hierarchichal taxonomies like categories can define a parent term.
A theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. A theme modifies the way the weblog is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Essentially, the WordPress theme system is a way to skin your weblog.
The Toolbar is an area of the screen just above that site that lists useful administration screen links such as add a new post or edit your profile. The toolbar can be turned on/off from the User Profile Screen.
A widely supported and preferred character encoding system. This is invaluable for users hosting WordPress in a non-English language. The most widely used collections of these character sets are the iso-8859 with iso-8859-1 and iso-8859-15.
Web server
A web server is a computer containing software for hosting or serving websites. The most common web server software on the internet is Apache, which is frequently used in conjunction with PHP and other scripting languages.
In WordPress a widget is a self-contained area of a web page that performs a specific function, or the code that generates such a self-contained area. Plugins and themes can provide additional widgets.
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is written in Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) and essentially allows you to define your own markup language. XML is extremely useful in describing, sharing, and transmitting data across the Internet. Typically used in conjunction with HTML, XML defines data and HTML displays that data.