30 Web Design Terms & What They Mean

The vast landscape of web design is one that is constantly evolving and expanding, and with it comes a plethora of terms and jargon that can be daunting for beginners and even some seasoned designers. Whether you’re an aspiring web designer, a professional looking to brush up on your vocabulary, or a business owner seeking to communicate more effectively with your web team, understanding the key terminologies of web design can be immensely beneficial.

In this article, we delve into “30 Web Design Terms” that are pivotal in today’s digital age. Ranging from the basic, like HTML and CSS, to the more complex, such as responsive and adaptive design, each term will be comprehensively explained, providing you with valuable insights into the intricate world of web design. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you will not only enhance your comprehension of web design techniques but also elevate your ability to participate in meaningful conversations around web development.

So, whether you’re creating, managing, or simply exploring the depths of web design, this comprehensive guide is your trusty companion.

As we journey through these 30 essential terms, you’ll gain the understanding needed to navigate the complex and exciting realm of web design. So, let’s delve in and broaden our web design lexicon.

2 Million+ Digital Assets, With Unlimited Downloads

Get unlimited downloads of 2 million+ design resources, themes, templates, photos, graphics and more. Envato Elements starts at $16 per month, and is the best creative subscription we've ever seen.

Explore Design Resources

Table of Contents

  1. Responsive Design
  2. Adaptive Design
  3. Mobile-First Design
  4. UX
  5. UI
  6. HTML
  7. CSS
  8. JavaScript
  9. SEO
  10. Frontend
  11. Backend
  12. Full Stack
  13. Domain
  14. Hosting
  15. SSL Certificate
  16. Wireframe
  17. Prototype
  18. Landing Page
  19. Microsite
  20. eCommerce
  21. Navigation
  22. Footer
  23. Hero Area
  24. Call-To-Action (CTA)
  25. Dropdown Menu
  26. Breadcrumbs
  27. Favicon
  28. Sidebar
  29. Widget
  30. Pop-Up

1. HTML

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is the standard markup language for creating web pages. It provides the basic structure of sites, which is enhanced and modified by other technologies like CSS and JavaScript. HTML elements are the building blocks of HTML pages and are represented by tags.
HTML tags label pieces of content such as “heading”, “paragraph”, “table”, and so on. Browsers do not display the HTML tags, but use them to render the content of the page. Understanding HTML is fundamental to web design and development, as it lays the groundwork upon which websites are built.

2. CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language used for describing the look and formatting of a document written in HTML. It is used to control the layout of multiple web pages all at once. CSS allows you to apply styles to web pages. More importantly, CSS enables you to do this independently of the HTML that makes up each web page.
CSS handles the look and feel part of a web page. Using CSS, you can control the color of the text, the style of fonts, the spacing between paragraphs, how columns are sized and laid out, what background images or colors are used, layout designs, variations in display for different devices and screen sizes, and a host of other aesthetic aspects. CSS significantly improves web accessibility and also reduces page load time.

3. JavaScript

JavaScript (JS) is a high-level, interpreted programming language that enables interactive web pages. While HTML lays out the structure of a page and CSS dictates the styling, JavaScript adds behavior to the page, making it possible to add interactivity, change content dynamically, animate images, and much more.

JavaScript forms the backbone of web application development and is an essential part of modern web design. From simple alert messages to complex web applications, JavaScript is used widely in the web design and development industry.

4. Responsive Design

Responsive design is a web design approach aimed at designing sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.

The core principle behind responsive design is the use of CSS media queries, which allow the page’s layout to change based on the screen’s size and orientation. Today, responsive design is a must-have feature for websites due to the proliferation of various device types and sizes.

5. Mobile-First Design

Mobile-first design is a design strategy that says websites should be designed for mobile devices first and then scaled up for larger devices like tablets and desktops. This approach is a response to the remarkable rise in mobile internet usage.

Designing for mobile first ensures that a website will provide a great user experience on smaller screens. It focuses on delivering the core content first and enhances the experience for larger screens. With mobile-first design, you ensure that your site is accessible to the largest possible audience.

6. UX (User Experience)

User Experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with a website, its services, and its products. The primary goal of UX design is to ensure a product is enjoyable, efficient, and effective to use.

UX design focuses on creating a streamlined and intuitive user journey through a website or app, minimizing friction and maximizing user satisfaction. This often involves a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and their limitations.

7. UI (User Interface)

The User Interface (UI) is the graphical layout of a website. It includes the buttons users click on, the text they read, the images, sliders, text entry fields, and all the rest of the items the user interacts with. This includes screen layout, transitions, interface animations, and every single micro-interaction.

UI design is all about translating a brand’s strengths and visual assets into a website interface that is easy to understand and fun to use. Web designers need to ensure the website’s interface leads to an enjoyable, seamless user experience.

8. Front-End

Front-end web development, also known as client-side development, involves creating what the user sees when they load a web application – the content, design, and how you interact with it. This is achieved with three coding languages – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Front-end developers work closely with graphic and UX designers to make sure every pixel is in the right place, and every interaction works as intended. Their role is essential to web design because they’re responsible for the implementation of the website’s design, structure, and behavior.

9. Back-End

Back-end web development involves the server-side of an application and everything that communicates between the database and the browser. This is where the functions of the web applications are implemented, and the data is stored and retrieved.

Back-end developers use server languages like PHP, Ruby, Python, and JavaScript (Node.js) to build applications. They work on the server and the database to ensure everything the front-end developer designs and creates can actually work by implementing server-side logic.

10. Full Stack

A Full Stack developer is someone who has a good understanding of how the web works at each level, including setting up and configuring Linux servers, writing server-side APIs, diving into the client-side JavaScript powering an application, and turning a “design eye” to the CSS.

Full Stack development involves both front-end and back-end development tasks. This is advantageous in projects where the seamless integration of front-end and back-end tasks significantly accelerates web development processes.

11. CMS (Content Management System)

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software application that allows users to build, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge. This allows non-tech savvy users to create websites and upload content without having to code.

Popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. These platforms provide a user-friendly interface where users can create and manage blog posts, pages, menus, media content, and more.

12. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing a website so it ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This is done through a combination of on-page optimization, such as keyword usage and metadata, and off-page optimization like backlinks and social signals.

SEO is a crucial part of web design and development because, without good SEO, a website will not be visible to its full potential audience. A good understanding of SEO principles can make the difference between a website that is easily found by users and one that gets lost in the depths of the internet.

13. Domain

A domain is the unique address that identifies a website on the internet. It’s what you type into the URL bar of your web browser when you want to visit a website. Domains are important for ensuring that your website can be found and accessed by users around the world.

Choosing a domain name is a significant step in the process of creating a website. It should be memorable, easy to spell, and ideally contain keywords related to your site’s content. The domain name also carries branding and marketing implications, as it is the primary way users identify your site.

14. Hosting

Web hosting is a service that allows individuals and organizations to post a website or web page onto the Internet. A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed on the Internet.

Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. When Internet users want to view your website, all they need to do is type your website address or domain into their browser. Their computer will then connect to your server and your webpages will be delivered to them through the browser.

15. SSL Certificate

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol (over port 443) and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

SSL Certificates are used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing browsing of social media sites. An SSL Certificate secures your customers’ sensitive information by encrypting the data they send to you, then decrypting it once you’ve received it.

16. Wireframe

A wireframe is a visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. It is created to arrange elements to best accomplish a particular purpose. The purpose is usually to inform about the page layout or a functional description of an interface.

Wireframes are usually created by business analysts, UX designers, or developers, who use them to establish the structure and functionality of a page. While a wireframe doesn’t contain any final design elements, it does act as a guide for how the site will ultimately look. It can also be a powerful conversation tool between the site creator and a client.

17. Prototype

A prototype is a preliminary visualization of a working product. In web design, prototypes illustrate the layout design, user interface, and navigational scheme of the website, serving as a realistic model of the final product.

Unlike wireframes, prototypes are often filled with rich media, color, and sometimes even interaction, simulating the user experience. They allow web designers to test and refine the website’s functionality before moving to full-scale production.

18. Landing Page

A landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign. It’s where a visitor “lands” after they click on a link in an email, or ads from Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or similar places on the web.

Unlike standard web pages, which typically have many goals and encourage exploration, landing pages are designed with a single focus or goal, known as a call to action (or CTA, for short). This focus makes landing pages the best option for increasing the conversion rates of your marketing campaigns and lowering your cost of acquiring a lead or sale.

19. Microsite

A microsite is an individual web page or a small cluster of pages which are meant to function as a discrete entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity. The microsite’s main landing page can have its own domain name or subdomain.

They are typically used to add a specialized group of information either editorial or commercial. Such sites may be linked into a main site or not or taken completely off a site’s server when the site is used for a temporary purpose. The main distinction of a microsite is that it is meant to function on its own and separate from the main site.

20. eCommerce

eCommerce, also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. eCommerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet.

In web design, eCommerce typically refers to the aspects of a website that allow for online purchasing. This could include a shopping cart feature, integrated payment methods, and product display pages. A website with eCommerce capabilities is often referred to as an eCommerce website.

In web design, navigation refers to the process of navigating a network of information resources in the World Wide Web, which is organized as hypertext or hypermedia. The UI that assists in navigation are typically referred to as web navigation and are a vital aspect of web design.

A site’s navigation system is like a road map to all the different areas and information contained within the site. Good navigation should be intuitive, easy to use, and consistent throughout the website, helping visitors quickly find the information they need.

The footer of a website is traditionally the area at the bottom of your website. It’s used to display content that’s not critical to the user achieving their goal, such as links to privacy policies or terms of use. The footer is also an area often used for secondary navigation to key areas of the site.

Web designers often use the footer to provide information such as the site’s copyright information, general contact details, and links to important material. It can also serve as a catch-all area for resources that do not fit elsewhere in the website’s design.

23. Hero Area

The hero area of a website is a large banner-style design that generally appears at the top of a webpage. It’s often the first visual element a visitor encounters on the site and its design can contribute significantly to the user’s first impression of the product or brand.

Hero areas usually consist of image and text elements, including a large headline, and possibly a sub-headline and a primary call-to-action button. This area plays a crucial role in capturing the user’s attention and communicating the core offer or value proposition at a glance.

24. Call-To-Action (CTA)

A Call To Action (CTA) is a prompt on a website that tells the user to take some specified action. A call to action is typically written as a command, such as ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Buy Now’ and generally takes the form of a button or hyperlink.

In web design, CTAs help to guide users towards your goal conversion, which may be form submissions, sales, newsletter signups, or any other action that fulfills the desired objectives of the website. Good CTAs should be compelling and give users a clear directive of what they should do next.

A dropdown menu is a list of options that appear whenever a piece of text or a button is clicked. This is a common feature in web design, allowing for a clean, minimalist website interface while still providing access to multiple pages.

Dropdown menus help in reducing clutter on the website, especially if there are a lot of navigational links. It’s crucial to ensure that dropdown menus are easy to use and are designed with the user in mind, as complicated or non-intuitive dropdown menus can lead to a frustrating user experience.

Breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation aid that helps users understand the relation between their current page and levels of the site hierarchy, leading up to the homepage. They are especially important for websites that have a large amount of content organized in a hierarchical manner.

Breadcrumbs typically appear near the top of the page and provide links back to each previous page the user navigates through to get to the current page. They can enhance the way users find their way around and can also be beneficial for SEO purposes.

27. Favicon

A favicon, short for “favorites icon,” is a small icon associated with a particular website or webpage. Browsers that provide favicon support typically display a page’s favicon in the browser’s URL bar and next to the page’s name in a list of bookmarks.

In web design, favicons give a visual identity to a website, providing an additional branding opportunity and enhancing user experience. Favicons need to be simple and clear due to their small size, and should ideally reflect the website or brand logo.

A sidebar is a vertical column provided on a website either on left or right side of the webpage. They’re used to display information that is not part of the main content but that is too important to be relegated to the footer.

Common uses for website sidebars include navigation links, social media buttons, or an email sign-up box. Sidebars can also contain secondary information like quotes, images, or links to recent posts. The goal is to provide additional useful information and prompts without detracting from the main content.

29. Widget

In the context of web design, a widget is a small standalone application that can be inserted into any webpage. Widgets can serve various functions, such as providing weather updates, displaying news tickers, or facilitating social media sharing.

Web widgets increase the user experience of the site by providing utility or entertainment. They can also add additional functionalities to a site without requiring a complete redesign or rebuild. They’re a versatile tool for web designers, who can use them to add specific functionalities or content to a site.

30. Pop-Up

In web design, a pop-up is a graphical user interface (GUI) display area, usually a small window, that suddenly appears in the foreground of the visual interface. Pop-ups are often used to display an advertisement or a form for email subscriptions.

While pop-ups can be an effective tool for drawing user attention to specific content, they must be used judiciously. Excessive use of pop-ups, or pop-ups that are difficult to close, can annoy users and result in a poor user experience.