For someone new to the world of blogging, all the new terms being thrown around can get pretty confusing – especially if you have little to no background in computers and web development. This article will explain some of the more common terms you’re likely to come across as you start blogging. Let’s get straight to it!
What Is a Blog, Anyway?
Blog is short for “weblog” – an online log, like a diary or journal. Blogs are usually personal websites in which individuals create posts about anything from their daily life to recipes to commentaries on hot topics, but they have evolved to include use by businesses and organizations to talk about important issues or to provide expertise.
Blog posts are usually listed in reverse chronological order (that is, the most recent one is listed first). But don’t worry, you can always reorder your blog posts using built-in theme options (like changing the date) or by installing a free plugin such as Post Types Order.
Front End vs Back End
You might sometimes see the words front end and back end tossed about. The front end is the part of the website that end users (that is, site visitors) see when they visit a site.
The back end is the part where all the coding happens – or, in the blogger’s case, where the content management and website design happens. For you, the blogger, the WordPress admin is your back end. When you log into your WordPress website, you are logging into the back end of your website.
If you thought these terms are from another language entirely, you’re actually not far off the mark. But no need to let your eyes glaze over now every time you see them!
CSS3, HTML5 and PHP are all common, popular programming languages. They’re what developers use to build and design websites. As a blogger, you probably won’t need to learn or use any code – especially since page builder wordpress plugins have gotten so popular. If you use a theme like Total you can create a fully customized website without learning or using code (all the page sections, color pickers, icons and more are built-in!).
Bootstrap is a development framework that is used to build websites. It’s a front end framework, which means that instead of dealing with coding language, you see what the end-user sees. Originally designed to encourage consistency across internal tools at Twitter, it’s broadened into a collection of tools available to any developer.
These aren’t things the average blogger needs to worry about, but they’re often mentioned in the features of plugins, themes and other applications, so now you know what they are when you run across them.
A theme is the front end design of your blog, sometimes known as the skin. It contains your color scheme, fonts, content layouts and more. Most premium WordPress themes allow significant customization and are built to be compatible with popular plugins.
When you set up a blog, one of the first things you do is choose a theme. This helps you set the style for your blog. If you decide you don’t like the theme you’ve chosen, you can change your WordPress theme later on without too much difficulty. Some themes are free and some are premium (that is, you have to buy them). There are a bunch of the free themes available on WordPress.org, but they usually have limited functionality and little to no customization options compared to the premium themes (just something to keep in mind).
A child theme is used in addition to a parent theme to display customizations. When you want to make core changes to a theme (to the actual code) you need to use a child theme to continue updating your parent theme. A popular example is the Genesis parent theme created by StudioPress that has tons of child themes available across the web. The Genesis parent theme includes all of the core theme feature, while the child themes include custom styling and layouts.
Plugins are a type of software that extend functionality or add specific features to other software. WordPress has tons of plugins available from third-party developers that you can use on your website (again, free and premium options), from shopping to image galleries to contact forms and everything in between. Browse the WordPress plugin directory, and regularly check out our blog to learn more about plugins that we recommend!
Note: WordPress plugins can only be used with self-hosted blogs and websites, not with the free WordPress.com platform.
Widgets are small software applications that often gather information from websites or other applications and display them. Some examples are weather apps, event countdowns and conversion boxes. In WordPress, widgets add content and features to your sidebars, such as tag clouds and searches. Many plugins allow you to add widgets to your site.
Widgets can also be theme specific, or extended by using a plugin. For example, our Chic blogging WordPress theme includes custom widgets for Instagram, newsletter signup, about section and social links.
When a website is responsive, that means it’s designed to configure itself to fit on any size screen, whether it’s your smartphone or tablet or desktop computer. Elements might hide or rearrange themselves to fit properly depending on the size of the screen. Responsiveness has become a standard feature in web design over the past few years.
Some themes take it a step further and add custom responsiveness options. For example, the Total theme includes options to hide or display rows on various devices. This is a unique responsiveness feature that you can use to display a slider on desktops but hide on mobile (since sliders can be hard to see on small screens, you can choose to display a photo instead).
Shortcodes are essentially macros, or sets of programming instructions designed to do things automatically, leading to reduced time and effort on your part (and no need for coding, either). In other words, shortcodes are shortcuts. In WordPress blogs, some themes contain shortcodes that you can use to format your content – for example, to add images or buttons, or to format paragraph quotes or headings. But if they don’t you can always just install our free Symple shortcodes WordPress plugin (we just released version 2.0, which is Visual Composer compatible!).
A permalink (short for “permanent link”) is the URL for a blog post or web page. When you share posts or pages with other people, the permalink is the web address that you’re sharing. You can checkout our blog post to learn more about improving your permalinks.
A slug is the part of the URL that contains the name of the post. It’s often just a few words long, intended to describe what the post is about. WordPress automatically uses the post’s title as the slug, but you can edit the slug if necessary. In the image below, the yellow highlighted portion is the slug.
Akismet is a spam filter plugin for blog comments and pings. The idea is to moderate comments automatically so that you can spend your time doing other things – it stops an average of 7.5 million pieces of spam per hour! Akismet is pre-installed on your WordPress blog, but you’ll need to activate it when you set up your site. For more information, visit akismet.com.
This acronym is short for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, SEO is making sure your website shows up in search results instead of being lost in the ether – which means more site visitors. You can improve your WordPress SEO by using relevant tags, categories and keywords in your posts and headlines, and by writing headlines that tell visitors what your posts are about.
Parallax scrolling is where background images move more slowly than the rest of the web page content, which creates the illusion of depth. It’s been used in video game and computer animation since the 1980s, but wasn’t used in web design until 2011. Using a theme with parallax scrolling effects supposedly gives your site a slick, modern look.
You’re probably very familiar with sliders, even if you don’t realize it – they’ve been used in web design for years. Sliders are small image galleries designed so that each image is displayed for several seconds before moving on (or sliding) to the next image. Many include links to blog posts or other content. WordPress has dozens of slider plugins available, some of which are often included in premium themes. We’ve talked about the best slider WordPress plugins before, so make sure to checkout that post!
Trackbacks are notifications for website authors that let them know when somebody links to their content. A ping is a network signal that sends a trackback. Trackbacks can help facilitate communication between blogs. Trackbacks are sometimes used to insert spam links, so if you use the trackback feature you should consider using special trackback spam filters.
Congratulations, you now know some common blogging and development terms! Hopefully, knowing what these terms are will help you be a more confident blogger as you get started. Can you think of any more confusing terms? If you’re not new to blogging, what terms were confusing for you when you first started? Let’s hear about it in the comments!