Website Owner’s Guide for Non-Techies

website owners guide

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Many of my clients come to me for help because they lack either the technical skills or the time required to create or maintain a website or a blog. Whether you handle these tasks yourself or you choose to outsource them, there are a few basic terms and facts you should be familiar with.

Blog: A blog is a specific type of Website, where new content is continually added to previous content, rather than replacing it. Most blogs allow for communication between the author and his or her readers, in the form of comments.

Browser (or Web Browser): A software program used to display Web Pages. Internet Explorer was the most widely used until it was phased out a few years ago. The most popular browsers right now are ChromeSafari, and Firefox. It’s important to realize that Web Pages may display differently in different browsers.

Domain Name: The name that identifies a Website, e.g. A domain name is purchased from a domain registrar such as MyDomain and must be renewed annually, usually at a cost of around $10.00 to $15.00 per year. Your domain name needs to point to your Web Hosting in order to function.

Downloading: The act of transferring files from the Internet to a local computer.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol): A method for Uploading and Downloading files over the Internet, usually using software such as Filezilla.

Hosting (or Web Hosting): Just as files are stored on your personal computer, every website must be stored on a computer on the Internet. You need to purchase this service from a hosting company such as InMotion, SiteGround or WP Engine (affiliate links) – think of it as renting a home for your website. Fees for hosting vary widely, depending on the features and amount of storage you require. You can sometimes find free web hosting, but keep in mind that free services are usually funded by advertising which will appear on your website.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): A set of codes used to structure text and multimedia documents and to set up links between documents. It is used to build websites. HTML codes are what you see when you view the “Page Source” of a web page.

Metatag: Coding on a web page that is used to give Search Engines information about that page. The most important are the Title tag (which appears at the top of your Browser window while viewing the page) and the Description tag (which may appear in the search results).

Permalink: A URL that points to a specific Blog post, as opposed to the main page of the Website. The permalink appears in the address bar at the top of the Browser window. You can see that the permalink for this post is

Search Engine: A computer program used to search and index the millions of pages of available information on the web. Although Google is the most widely used, there are many others, including Yahoo and Bing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A strategy used to increase the likelihood of your Website coming up high in search results by making it more visible to Search Engines.

Uploading: The act of transferring files to the Internet from a local computer. Some websites have uploading features built in, but others require that you have FTP or SFTP access.

URL: This is the web address you give people so they can go to your website, e.g. or Please note how this differs from the Domain Name.

Web Page: A single document displayed on the Internet.

Website: A collection of related Web Pages belonging to an individual, a company, or an organization.

WordPress: Free software used for creating both blogs and websites. When installed on your Web Hosting account, it can be completely customized in terms of both design and function. You can use WordPress at without purchasing web hosting or a domain name, but it is much more limited, unless you upgrade to a premium account.

If there’s terminology that puzzles you which I haven’t included here, you may be able to find a definition on or Build Web Site For You, which I found helpful while creating this post. For further clarification, feel free to leave a question in the Comments.

Photo by NegativeSpace

Casual Photo of Janet Barclay

Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Seana Turner on July 2, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I’ve always been a bit confused about the difference between, and “managed” WordPress… This is a great post, Janet. So helpful. Some terms we know well, while others are still mysterious. Thanks for all you do supporting small business and their websites!

    • Janet on July 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm is a complete platform. The benefit is that it requires no maintenance on the part of the website owner, other than updating content. The downside is that you’re limited to the themes and functions they offer, which means you won’t be able to use certain features and functions. It can still be a good option for some businesses – see my post Is a site right for your business? is the home site of what’s usually called self-hosted WordPress. With this version, you need to sign up for a hosting service and it’s essential that you keep your WordPress installation, plugins and themes up-to-date to ensure security and to access new features. Read my post on website maintenance.

      Managed WordPress hosting is where the web host looks after some or all of the website maintenance on your behalf. It’s typically more expensive than standard hosting, but usually includes other premium services and features. This site is hosted on WP Engine, a highly regarded Managed WordPress hosting service. Learn why I love WP Engine.

  2. Linda Samuels on July 2, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    It was kind of a fun game to see how many of these I actually understood. It surely helped to read your definitions. I guess there’s also a difference between understanding the jargon and truly using each of these things properly…like metatags. I get what they are, but am not sure if I’ve optimized my sites with them.

    • Janet on July 2, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      I wish I’d thought to make this a quiz!

      You can check out your SEO titles and description by entering the name of your website, or one of your main keywords, into Google. Then you can see what appears and determine whether it’s compelling enough for people to click on.

  3. Stacey Agin Murray on July 3, 2018 at 9:06 am

    In the Internet-dominant world we live in, it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows how to create a website or easily navigate one. It can be confusing even if you’re web savvy! Thanks for creating a basic dictionary for website owners. I was fuzzy on a few of those definitions–I’ll be bookmarking this for future reference!

  4. Deb Lee on July 27, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Very helpful list, Janet. Btw, I love W3Schools! I often go there when some piece of code has me stumped. Their tutorials are great.

    • Janet Barclay on July 27, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      It’s a great resource! I rarely think to go there, but many a Google search has pointed me in their direction.

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