Here are a list of terms that are commonly used in a website build, migration or redesign. They aren't necessarily totally technical definitions, rather it's how I explain them to clients. Hope it's helpful!


All websites need a place where the site files and database lives. A hosting account gives you a place to put those site files and database in the form of a server of some type. Imagine that the server is like a plot of land where you would build a house. The site files and database make up all the building materials. You may need to buy your own hosting account (for a CMS) or your SaaS might provide it for you. Regardless, files have to live somewhere.


The domain is the address of your site. It tells people where to go to see your website. Following the house example, it's what you can put into your GPS to find your plot of land. You can buy a domain name from anywhere really. Top choices are GoDaddy, Namecheap and many others. I recommend that your domain registrar be different from your host.

Content Management System (CMS)

From Wikipedia: A content management system (CMS) manages the creation and modification of digital content. It typically supports multiple users in a collaborative environment.

CMS features vary widely. Most CMSs include Web-based publishing, format management, history editing and version control, indexing, search, and retrieval. By their nature, content management systems support the separation of content and presentation. Read more...

In our case, the types of CMSs we're talking about are Joomla and WordPress.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

From Wikipedia: Software as a service (SaaS /sæs/[1]) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as "on-demand software", and was formerly referred to as "software plus services" by Microsoft. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client, e.g. via a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including office software, messaging software, payroll processing software, DBMS software, management software, CAD software, development software...SaaS has been incorporated into the strategy of nearly all leading enterprise software companies....

SaaS applications are also known as Web-based software, on-demand software and hosted software. Read more...

In our case, the type of SaaS we're talking about is Sqarespace.


All servers have two "nameservers." By finding them and adding them to the "nameservers" field with your domain, you can "point" your domain from one server to another. So when you change hosts, you just change the nameservers. That said, there are other ways to point domains. But in general for my clients, this is what I'm talking about when I say "I'll just change the nameservers when we're ready." It can take 2-72 hours for changes to take place. See Propagation below.

Domain Name Service (DNS)

A nightmare thing that can be so confusing. Obviously not a satisfactory answer. Here's what PC Magazine states about it:

(Domain Name System) The Internet's system for converting alphabetic names into numeric IP addresses. For example, when a Web address (URL) is typed into a browser, DNS servers return the IP address of the Web server associated with that name. In this made-up example, the DNS converts the URL into the IP address Without DNS, you would have to type the series of four numbers and dots into your browser to retrieve the website, which you actually can do. Read more...

If you're working with me, you will probably not need to know what it is or what to do with it. Just know that DNS changes take time to propagate. See below on propagation.


The first time I heard this word in connection with websites, I really wondered why we were talking about gardening. Propagation is the time it takes from when you make a DNS or nameserver change and when it actually happens around the globe. Propagation can take anywhere from 2-72 hours. Sometimes it seems almost instant. Other times, it feels like hours. The longest I've had it take is 15 hours.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Sometimes you need to load a really large file or a large number of files to your CMS and this is easily achieved using FTP. FTP access is given/set up through your host. Then using an FTP client like WinSCP or FileZilla you can access the files on your local device and the files on your server and manage them back and forth.


What you use to access websites on the world wide web. It's always handy to have more than one browser installed on your computer/mobile device so that you can test things better AND so that one of them you can keep the cache clear on. For example, I have Microsoft Edge to clear all cache every time I close it. This makes it easy for me to see if a change I made that might not be showing up in Chrome or Firefox is showing up on Edge. Then I know it's just a caching issue. See below on caching.


 Caching is so annoying...but it's important. Caching increases speed of loading your website through the browser. There are lots of places caching happens (the browser, the site itself, maybe a CDN or firewall and even potentially your router). So sometimes if you make a change to your website and it's not showing up when you refresh the frontend, caching could be the culprit. Start with clearing your browser cache and go from there. Often that will do the trick.

Optimise Images

Search engines like fast websites. Images are big when taken with a nice camera or even a good phone. Optimising images compresses its size so that it still looks good but is much smaller in size. This makes the pages of your site load faster. Most images can be optimised for web so that they are 100K or less. Sometimes they need to be a bit more, but keep it as low as possible without the image losing quality.

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