15 useful web design terms you need to know.

Web design for small businesses

Sometimes, when presented with an array of technical terms, it can be a bit overwhelming. In this blog, I hope to clarify 15 web design terms you need to know so that you feel more confident in discussing your website design with your chosen designer.

You know you need a website.

As a business owner, you know the value of owning a website.

  • It presents a professional image of your business to your potential customers.
  • It showcases your products or services.
  • It offers opportunities for people to contact you through Call to Action buttons and forms.
  • It gives you access to the Internet, which almost 60% of the population of the world are using.

But you’re overwhelmed by technical terminology.

So now you know why you need a website, you want to find a web designer to help you build your website. The problem is, as in every field of business, the designer may well throw out terminology that only they understand. It’s all too easy to become bogged down in your own field and forget that not everyone is used to referring to the SSL, the URL or the slugs.

From the perspective of a small business owner, I am sure this can be very off-putting. Having designed websites for every type of business from drain unblockers to plant welders, from hair salon owners to bed retailers, I know that these key terms can bamboozle. I have to say, my career as a freelance web designer has broadened my own vocabulary in unexpected ways. Who knew that I would need to know about “piling augers” and “trenchers”?

Therefore, my goal in this blog is to simplify the key terms I think you will need to know as a business owner in order to discuss your website design with confidence.


Your website needs to be hosted somewhere in order to be on the internet. There is an enormous choice of hosting providers, but I personally favour Siteground. They have excellent speed, brilliant support and keep you well informed.


Your website designer will ask of you already have a domain name. A domain name is your personal business address, like mcgrathwebdesign.co.uk. Domains can be bought from hosting companies. You can choose from .co.uk, .com, .net and many others.


The Uniform Resource Locator, is basically the address of your web page. E.g. https://www.mcgrathwebdesign.co.uk


No not one of those! A slug is the bit of a web address that comes after the domain. So this blog has the slug “15-web-design-terms-you-need-to-know” after the domain. It means that when a search is made for this specific term it is more easily found. It is an important SEO step to make sure that the slug contains words you want your blog post or page to rank with. In this case, my long-tail keyword is “web design terms”


WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). It allows designers to build a website without coding it from scratch and the easy-to-use management system allows business owners to edit their own websites if they want to. I often send tutorial videos to my clients to allow them to make small changes to their websites, such as price changes, image changes, or add new content. It is particularly helpful if a client wants to manage their own blog.

WordPress is the most popular CMS and around 40% of websites are built on WordPress.


While we are talking about acronyms, what about SSL. Nowadays I am always shocked if a client comes to me to edit their existing site and it doesn’t have an SSL certificate. It seems so unnecessary.

An SSL certificate is a Secure Sockets Layer. It encrypts information from the webserver to the browser meaning that the website is protected. You know you have an SSL certificate if your website displays a little padlock in the address bar.

SSL certificates are added at the hosting level, so do check that your host has included this. Apart from the security they provide, having an SSL even improves your potential ranking on search engines. Google flags websites as “not secure” if they do not have an SSL and it has been shown that sites rank better with one.

Loading speed

Page loading speed is key to improving your site ranking and providing a better user experience. A slow loading speed directly affects ranking due to Google’s speed algorithm but also has an indirect effect if the slow speed raises the bounce rate. A user wants a website to open quickly, the goal is 2-3 seconds. If the site is slow to load, your potential customers “bounce” off. This poor bounce rate harms your google ranking.


A website is fully responsive when it changes the size and layout of content to better fit a page on a mobile phone or tablet compared to a desktop view. This is extremely important and should be an expectation in a web design-build. According to an article by Oberlo, “As of April 2021, 56.16 percent of all web traffic came through mobile phones. ” You are potentially losing customers if your website only looks great on a desktop.


The main navigation on a web page is the menu, usually at the top of the age or just below the header, which allows a user to navigate the site.


The header of a website contains useful information to enable users to quickly access the website and contact the business. It usually contains the navigation menu, the logo, a contact ( phone or email), and sometimes the social media links. Headers can have a variety of designs, such as a hero image or a slider of images.


The footer is at the bottom of each page of the website. It is uniform in design across the website and is used to present useful links like contact information, social media links, page links, or links to recent blogs or news.

Brochure or eCommerce

Do you wanrt a brochure website or an eCommerce website?

If you intend to run an online shop, you will need an eCommerce website and in WordPress, this usually means using Woocommerce. There are other eCommerce options, but I love Woocommerce. Woocommerce is a plugin, which adds all the functionality you will need to list your products, store customer information, and track your sales and profits. It is extremely easy to learn how to manage the dashboard and track your sales, find customer shipping information and add and edit new products.

A brochure website is exactly what it sounds like. You may require a website to act as your marketing window and provide youor potential custoemrs with information abot your business, your services and answer their questions.

Importantly, whicever website design you need, they will both offer Calls to Action. 9see below)

Calls to Action

In line with the golden rule of marketing, your website needs to catch the users Attention, grab their Interest, create a Desire to know more and engage with you and finally encourage them to take Action

Once your website has informed and educated and caught the user’s interest, it needs to offer clear Call To Action opportunities. These can be links to click, buttons, opportunities to subscribe, or contact forms. Your website needs to be so user-friendly that the next step to take is obvious.


One of the most useful and user-friendly Calls to Action is a contact form. These forms are often found on the actual contact page, but can also be found at the bottom of pages, to encourage a user to take action. A simple contact form links the user directly to the business email address and allows them to enter an enquiry.

Contact forms can also enable businesses to gather important information from their customers. take a look at the contact form I added to the Small Stuff Baby Bank charity, to give them the capacity to gather lists of donations of baby toys and clothes, as well as receive requests for charity parcels from the public. This made their system much easier and the user experience more straightforward.


Why you should have a blog on your website

A blog is a fantastic addition to your website, whatever line of business you run.

As shown in my infographic, a blog helps drive traffic to your website and keeps it current. It means that Google and other search engines recognise the website as being active.

Each blog should offer another Call to Action opportunity for your users to engage with you.

It also educates and problem solves, proving to your users that you are an authority on your particular line of business ( just like this blog is doing) and in so doing, encourages confidence in your business.

Finally, a blog is a fantastic way to communicate with your users and show something of your personality. I like to mix my blogs up with informative website design topics, local Manchester-based news, and personal topics which are of interest to me.

I hope this helps!

The purpose of this blog was to clear up any uncertainty and hopefully enable you to be able to discuss your website design with your designer with confidence. I hope that by clarifying these key terms, you will be able to be more confidently involved in the planning stages of your website. If you are looking for a new webiste or feel that oyur current website needs a revamp, get in touch ! (This is where that Call to action comes in!)

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