Website Terminology Glossary: Website Builders, Vol. 1 P

When you’re hustling, time is money and that money comes in coins, not bills. It’s why we made our Website Terminology Glossary for web pros. This free resource for designers, developers, marketers or anyone else makes it easier explaining technical stuff to clients.

Rather than a lengthy back-and-forth, quickly find definitions that break it down in real terms. Start getting time back, and put more of those coins in the bank.

Website Terminology Glossary: Website Builders, Vol. 1

With a content management system, it’s easy to assume clients are familiar with the platform and some of the lingo. This can create frustration for clients with a basic, CMS-agnostic vocabulary. And it can sure be a hassle for you, when too much time gets spent explaining the difference between an extension and a plugin.

Skip all that noise with these stripped-down definitions. The goal here is treating clients right while letting you take back time that would otherwise be used for hand-holding.

Admin area

Once you log in to a website builder, you’re in its admin area. It’s a place where you can modify the appearance of a site, control its features, and handle things like maintenance and security. You typically reach an admin area through your web hosting account or by adding something like /admin to the very end of a site’s web address.

It’s kinda like

On large seagoing vessels, commands come from the bridge. Front there, the captain directs various crews on the ship. With a website, an admin area is like the bridge. You can control the whole website from there.

You also might hear

control panel, back end, dashboard, editor

Back end

The back end of a website isn’t visible to visitors, but is accessible by the site owner and authorized individuals. Most work done on a website’s appearance or functionality happens on its back end. It’s important to secure access to this area, as the back end gives you control of the site and can contain valuable data like customers’ payment information.

It’s kinda like

In The Wizard of Oz, pulling back a curtain revealed all the levers and buttons used to create the appearance of a powerful wizard. A website’s back end is like going behind that curtain.

You also might hear

admin area, back end, database, server

Content management system (CMS)

Creating even a basic website often requires lots of technical experience, such as coding, software, and a command-line interface. A content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla replaces those complicated programming tools with an easy-to-use control panel, letting you simply point and click to change the content on a website.

It’s kinda like

For many motorists, a manual transmission is overwhelming with all the gear changes approaching curves and hills. It’s far easier to just put an automatic transmission in park, drive or reverse. That’s how a CMS can simplify the experience of managing a website.

You also might hear

CMS platform, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento


A website builder or content management system is powered by its core files, which control the inner workings. You can often add additional software for new features and functions, but the core offers the default functionality of the website. That’s a big reason to run updates to core files as soon as they’re available.

It’s kinda like

You can make all kinds of customizations to an automobile for performance and style. But the thing isn’t going anywhere without a well-maintained engine. A website’s core is that engine.

You also might hear

updates, version X.X


When you create or update website content using a website builder, you do it from an editor. Each website builder often has a specific name for its editor, like Gutenberg for WordPress. You can even install additional software to modify your editor experience. But they all essentially do the same thing: letting you work with website content without writing complex code.

It’s kinda like

When you get the munchies, it’s a lot easier to pop pre-made cookie dough into the oven instead of busting out recipes and ingredients. Website editors provide the same kind of convenience when you’re cooking up website content.

You also might hear

back end, visual editor, post editor, page builder, Gutenberg, Elementor, WPBakery, ARK, JCE, CKEditor, Setka

Featured image

If you’re using a website builder to publish a blog, you’ll need a featured image for each post. These display at the top of the post and in any previews on social media. It’s a good idea to make sure featured images are relevant to the topic of your blog post. And it looks pretty slick when they include branding elements like colors and fonts.

It’s kinda like

Hardcover books usually include a jacket whose design matches what the book is about. Well-crafted featured images do the same thing.

You also might hear

OG image, marquee, hero image

Front end

The front end of a website is everything visitors can see — the text, images, menus and any other elements they view or interact with. By using a website builder, it’s possible to customize features and add content to the front end without writing complex code.

It’s kinda like

In The Wizard of Oz, characters saw what they believed to be a powerful wizard. But in reality it was just an ordinary person behind a curtain pushing buttons and pulling levers. That wizard is like the front end of a website.

You also might hear

production site, user experience (UX), user interface (UI)


A website template is a premade design and placeholder content that can easily be swapped out. You’ll often see templates designed for use by specific types of individuals and organizations, like a florist or construction company. Sometimes, the placeholder content is created in a way that makes it suitable for use without much modification. Often, templates can be limiting, which is why you might hire a web designer to help you customize them.

It’s kinda like

Some housing subdivisions offer a few different floorplans that homeowners then customize to make their own. Website templates offer the same balance of efficiency and personalization.

You also might hear

web design, theme


With content management systems (CMS) including WordPress, Drupal and Magento, a theme is the term for a premade design that can be applied to the website and customized. Each of these CMS applications has a central repository where developers regularly add new themes, and some offer premium themes that you can pay for. Prebuilt themes can be limiting. A web designer will create a custom theme that matches exactly what you want.

It’s kinda like

You can buy a jacket in different colors and accessorize or modify it. You can also buy a more expensive jacket that has more functionality. You could also get a tailor to make you a custom jacket.

You also might hear

web design, template

User role

Aa a security measure, user roles limit what an individual can do when they’re working on a website. For example, an author role might only allow the user to post their own content on a blog. An editor role might allow them to edit the content of other users. And there’s usually a role that provides complete administrative access to a website — this role should be granted sparingly.

It’s kinda like

In a call center, an individual might be authorized to take calls, but not issue refunds — a function of a more senior employee with greater permissions. Users roles for a website work the same way.

You also might hear

super administrator, administrator, editor, author, contributor, subscriber

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