The world of IT can appear a little intimidating for a business owner or manager who doesn’t consider himself or herself as particularly tech-savvy. That’s not helped by the jargon, buzzwords and acronyms that are used.

Even a basic grasp of the terminology can help you understand IT and to choose products, services and suppliers. This A-Z of jargon and buzzwords covers terms that are in everyday use in software, hardware, security, analytics, web development and much, much more.

  • Above the fold: The part of a webpage that is visible in the user’s browser on a desktop computer without scrolling down
  • Analytics: Generally refers to web analytics or business intelligence software. Analytics tools are used to examine, for instance, the performance of a website
  • Application: Another way to say ‘computer programme’
  • Authentication: Authentication is the process of determining if someone or something is in fact who or what they claim to be, usually based on a username and password
  • Autoresponder: An automated email reply system
  • Back office: A phrase used to describe the operations that support the fulfilment of online sales
  • Back end: The server hardware and software in a client/server computer system
  • Bandwidth: The data transmission rate or how much content can be sent over an internet connection in a fixed amount of time
  • Boot: To start a computer. Restarting a computer is called ‘rebooting’
  • Bounce: A ‘bounced’ email is one returned as undeliverable to a sender
  • Bounce rate: In web analytics, the percentage of users who enter a website then leave immediately rather than continuing to view other pages on the same site
  • Brochureware: A website made up of content transferred from print or other offline promotional material (such as a brochure) or a site that contains general information but offers no user interaction
  • Broken link: A link on a website which when it is click goes to a new page or generates an error message
  • Browser: A computer application that provides access to the world wide web for instance Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera
  • Bug: A programming error, mistake or problem that means a programme does not behave as expected
  • Call to action: A word, phrase or gesture that invokes action
  • Clickthrough: When a user clicks on any link. Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of clickthroughs to the number of times a link is viewed
  • Cloud hosting: Clouding hosting provides hosting on a virtual server which can be located across many physical hardware servers and even different locations. Cloud hosting is extremely reliable and flexible. It can be useful for managing the need for extra capacity at times of peak website usage or for running different instances of a website for testing
  • Content Management System: A software application that enables web content to be created, edited and manipulated without the need for specialist development knowledge or skills
  • Control Panel: In web hosting, a control panel is a web based interface provided by the hosting company that allows customers to manage all their hosted services such as email and a website through a single interface
  • Conversion: When a site visitor completes whatever the object they have had in visiting a website —for instance, order a product or signing up for a newsletter
  • Conversion rate: The ratio of conversions to site visitors
  • Cookies: Electronic tags that are deposited on a user’s computer when they visit a website. The cookie allows the tracking and recording of data about the user when they visit the website that has issued the cookie
  • Cybersquatting: The practice of registering a domain name with the sole purpose of selling it at a profit
  • Dedicated hosting: Hosting on a server that hosts a single website. The server may be owned or leased by the owner of that website
  • Denial-of-service attack: A denial of service attack (DoS) or distributed denial of service attack (DdoS) is a malicious attempt to make a computer or network resource unavailable to its intended users. A DoS attack generally consists of an attempt to block access to a hosted service like a website
  • Developer: A developer is a computer software professional concerned with researching, designing, implementing and testing software and websites
  • Direct access attack: Where an unauthorised person gains physical access to a computer device or network to destroy or steal data
  • DNS: The DNS (Domain Names System) is a distributed worldwide client /server database system which links domain names with their numerical IP addresses. DNS servers act as directories to route email and webpage request to the correct web server
  • Domain name: Casually referred to as a website address, a domain name is specifically the unique name that identifies an internet site. Every site has a unique IP Address and linked domain name
  • Downtime: How long a website might not be available
  • Dynamic website: Webpages that are produced from content stored in a database in response to a user’s request such as clicking on a link or typing in a URL
  • Encryption: The encoding and decoding of data like contact and payment details to prevent authorised access
  • Extranet: A website that is partially accessible to authorised outsiders who can only access it with a valid username and password
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs): A list of most common questions and answers on a particular topic. Very popular format on websites
  • Firewall: A firewall is a device or a piece of software that helps screen out hackers, viruses and worms that try to reach your computer or network through the internet
  • Front end: Those elements of a website or computer system that an end user interacts with directly
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): An internet tool that allows users to transfer files between two computers over the internet – for example, uploading brochure documents to a website
  • Hacker: A person who uses various tools and techniques to gain unauthorised access to secure computer systems
  • HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. The coding language used to create documents for the World Wide Web
  • HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The protocol for moving hypertext files across the internet
  • IEDR: The Irish domain registry which is responsible for keeping a database listing of all the domains that have a .ie extension.
  • Inbound links: Also known as ‘back links’, inbound links are hypertext links that link from another webpage to your website or a page on your website
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP): An organisation usually a commercial company that provides access to the internet for others
  • Intranet: A private network inside a business that uses the same kind of web presentation of applications and information that you would find on the public internet but which is for private use only
  • IP Address: A numeric address used to identify specific computer or other device on a network like the internet consisting of a quartet of numbers between zero and 255
  • Open source: Sometimes called ‘free software’, open source is software whose creators allow modification of the computer code of their applications by others
  • JavaScript: A programming language used in webpages, usually to add features to make a webpage more interactive
  • Local area network (LAN): A network of computers usually limited to the immediate area or a specific geographical location, usually the same building or floor of an office block
  • Landing page: A page specifically developed as a place where a user is directed when they respond to an advertising campaign or a promotion. That could be offline like a QR code printed on a poster or online as a link in search advertising
  • Malware: A generic term for any software that is secretly installed on a user’s computer to cause damage or steal data
  • mCommerce: eCommerce websites or online shopping apps on mobile telephones
  • Metadata: Data about data, describing how, when and by whom a particular set of data was collected and formatted. Metadata on a website are a set of HTML tags containing this information and also a description of the content of a webpage that is used by search engines to provide title and description in search results pages
  • Microsite: A small website – usually only a single page or a few pages – that is on a different domain to a business’s primary website
  • Navigation: Website navigation is the visual system consisting of menu items, buttons, breadcrumbs, footers and other links used by visitors to move around the various pages and sections of a website
  • Parked domain: A parked domain is an internet domain that has been registered but is not yet associated to any service such as email or a website
  • Phishing: A type of scam that uses bogus emails designed to deceive customers into revealing personal financial data
  • Plugin: Usually a small piece of software that adds extra features to a larger piece of software. Plugins are often not developed by who create the larger piece of software that the plugin is designed to work with
  • Redirect: URL redirection, sometimes called ‘URL forwarding’, is a technique for making a webpage available under more than one URL. When a browser opens a webpage URL that has been redirected, it displays a page with a different URL. In the same way, domain redirection or domain forwarding is when all the pages of one domain is redirected to a different domain
  • Responsive Web Design: Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach to web design and development aimed at building a website that provide optimal viewing experience on a wide range of devices including different kinds of mobile devices, tablets as well as laptops
  • Router: A special purpose computer or software package that is dedicated to managing connections between computer networks like a business network and the internet
  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO): The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the targeted time and level of service described in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) within which a business process must be restored after disruption in order to avoid the consequences of a break in business continuity
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA): A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is part of a service contract where the service is formally defined. Important elements of the SLA include scope, quality and responsibilities of the service provider and the customer
  • Shared hosting: A shared web hosting service refers to one where several websites belong to different organisations share the same webserver. Each website sits in its own partition on the webserver to keep it separate from the other websites. Generally this is the most economical way to host a website
  • Social engineering: Social engineering in the context of information security refers to the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information
  • Spam: Unsolicited, undesirable or illegal email or social media messages.
  • Search engine results page (SERP): The webpage that shows the results of a web page search
  • Secure sockets layer (SSL): An internet protocol designed to enable encrypted and authenticated communication across the internet.
  • Traffic: The number of visitors to a website
  • Technical support: Technical support – sometimes abbreviated to ‘tech support’ – refers to a variety of services which are provided to support users of information technology
  • Template: A webpage template is a pre-designed layout master page used to produce web pages on a website
  • Top level domain (TLD): The highest level in the domain name system on the internet. The .ie extension in domain name like ThinkBusiness.ie tells you that this website is in the .ie top level domain which is reserved for sites located in Ireland
  • Unique visitor/user: A specific individual visitor to a website, who may be a repeat visitor and if so is identified as such. However, one visitor to a website who uses multiple devices can be counted as several unique visitors/users
  • Uninterruptable power supply (UPS): A device that provides an onsite battery backup when mains electricity power fails and so allows the computer network to keep running
  • URL (Uniform Resource Locator): A series of characters used to identify a page of information on the Web
  • Usability: Usability is a term that describes the practice of making a website user friendly
  • Virtualisation: Server virtualisation is a technique that involves partitioning a physical server into a number of small virtual servers with the help of special virtualisation software
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network): A Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends a private network securely across a public network like the internet
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server): A Virtual Private Server sold as a service by an independent hosting provider. It runs its own copy of an operating system and customers have ‘super user’ level access to the operating system so they can install any software that will run on that operating system
  • Wide area network (WAN): Any network that covers an area larger than the immediate location like a single building
  • WHOIS: A query and response tool available on the internet used to determine the owner of a domain name or IP address
  • Wireframe: A website wireframe is a visual guide or blue print that represents the skeletal layout of a website. During the initial design phase, the wireframe depicts the page layout and arrangement of the website content, including interface elements like menus and other navigation features