WordPress Terms [WordPress #1]

This week in the WordPress Series, we’re starting with the basics. Anytime you’re learning something new, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terminology. Expect this page to grow and expand as we work our way through the series.


This week in the WordPress Series, we’re starting with the basics. Anytime you’re learning something new, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terminology. Expect this page to grow and expand as we work our way through the series.

Admin Bar
Admin Center
Blogging Platform
Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)
Content Management System (CMS)
Custom Fields
Domain Name
Feed Reader
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
Hosting Company
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
Mommy Blogger
Post Slug
Post Status
Post Type
Professional Blogger
RSS Feed
Search Engine Optimization
Text Editor
Web Server


Admin Bar: The admin bar is an area of the screen just above your site (when you are logged into WordPress) that lists useful administration screen links such as add a new post or edit your profile. You can use your settings to turn on (or off) the admin bar when viewing the site or the Dashboard.

Admin Center: The Admin Center is your WordPress site control panel. It includes the dashboard and sidebar controls and enables you to add/edit/delete Pages and Posts, control Plugins and Widgets, manage your users, and much more.

Askimet: Askimet is a plugin you can add to WordPress to filter your spam comments. When you activate Askimet in WordPress, you will be taken to the Askimet site to set up an account. The cost ranges from free to minimal.

Avatar: This is the small profile image that appears next to your name when you make a comment on another blog through WordPress. You can choose an existing avatar or upload your own image. Use the Discussion Settings to control avatar use on your site.

Blog: A blog, or weblog, is an online journal, diary, or serial published by a person or group of people. Blogs are typically used by individuals or peer groups, but are occasionally used by companies or organizations as well. In the corporate arena, the only adopters of the blog format so far have tended to be design firms, web media companies, and other “bleeding edge” tech firms. Blogs often contain public as well as private content. Depending on the functionality of the CMS software that is used, some authors may restrict access — through the use of accounts or passwords — to content that is too personal to be published publicly.

Blogging Platform: A blogging platform is the software used behind the scenes to create your blog.  Popular blogging platforms include Blogger, Typepad, WordPress.com, and WordPress.org.

Blogosphere: The blogosphere refers to the overall community of bloggers.

Blogroll: A blogroll is a list of links to various blogs or news sites. Often a blogroll is “rolled” by a service which tracks updates (using feeds) to each site in the list, and provides the list in a form which aggregates update information. Blogrolls are often used in the sidebar of a blog to link to other blogs or favorite sites.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS): CSS is an open standards programming language for specifying the way a web page is presented. It allows web site designers to create formatting and layout for a web site that is independentl of its content.

Category: Each post in WordPress is filed under a category. Careful and purposeful categorization allows posts to be grouped with others of similar content and aids in the navigation of a site. Please note that the post category should not be confused with the Link Categories used to classify and manage Links.

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Comments: Comments are a feature of blogs which allow readers to respond to posts. Typically readers simply provide their own thoughts regarding the content of the post, but users may also provide links to other resources, generate discussion, or simply compliment the author for a well-written post. WordPress allows you to control and regulate comments by filters for language and content. WordPress comments can be queued for approval before they are visible on the web site. This is useful in dealing with comment spam.

Content: Content consists of text, images, videos, or other information shared in posts. This is separate from the structural design of a WordPress web site, which provides a framework into which the content is inserted, and the presentation of a site, which involves graphic design. A Content Management System changes and updates content, rather than the structural or graphic design of a web site.

Content Management System (CMS): A CMS is software for facilitating the maintenance of content, but not design, on a web site. WordPress is an example of a Content Management System.

Custom Fields: WordPress includes a way to create custom values that you assign to a particular Page or Post. Your Theme or WordPress developer can then use those fields and values to create custom functionality on your site. For instance, you may want to be able to have a rating system for whatever you are writing about. A developer could set-up a custom field where you just enter your rating and then the system takes that information and makes a pretty display feature based on the rating you assigned. The possibilities are endless with Custom Fields and are a powerful feature of WordPress.

Dashboard: Your dashboard is the main navigation screen that appears when you log into WordPress. You can configure your dashboard to show only the information you find useful. It summarizes information about the site or network, and also external information, in one or more widgets that the Dashboard user can enable, disable, and move around.

Database: A database in computing terms is software used to manage information in an organized fashion. WordPress uses the MySQL relational database management system for storing and retrieving the content of your blog, such as posts, comments, categories, and more.

Domain Name: A domain name is the base URL for a website. For example, our domain name is epiphenie.com, which takes you to the homepage of the site. A domain name is a name used for identification purposes on the Internet. In WordPress a domain name usually identifies a server where WordPress is installed. To make this work, the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) maps the domain name to a server’s IP address. For example, the domain name example.com maps to the IP address Many domain names can map to the same IP address, allowing a single server to run many websites. For example, the the domain names www.example.com and example.net also map to the IP address

Draft: A WordPress blog post that is in process and has not yet been published.

Excerpt: An excerpt is a condensed description of your blog post and refers to the summary entered in the Excerpt field of your post editing page. The excerpt is used to describe your post in RSS feeds and is typically used in displaying search results. The excerpt is sometimes used in various places throughout your site, depending on your theme and settings. Note that if you do not enter information into the Excerpt field when writing a post, and your site is set to use the exerpt, WordPress will automatically display the first 55 words of the post’s content.

Favicon: This is the miniature image that appears on the tab or in the address field of your browser. The favicon for this website is a green light bulb. For more information, see our Favicon Tutorial.

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Feed Reader: A feed reader (such as Google Reader) allows you to subscribe to various blogs so that you can read all of their posts in one place.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP): FTP is a client-server protocol for transferring files. It is one way to download files, and the most common way to upload files to a server. An FTP client is a program which can download files from, or upload files to, an FTP server. You may need to use an FTP client to upload your WordPress files to your web server, particularly if you use a hosting provider. Our favorite FTP client is FileZilla.

Footer: A footer area is a horizontal area provided by a theme for displaying information other than the main content of the web page. Themes may provide one or more footer areas below the content. Footer areas usually contain widgets that an administrator of the site can customize. In a theme, footer areas are generated by a template file, typically named sidebar-footer.php or footer.php.

Gallery: A WordPress gallery is an exposition of images attached to a post. In that same vein, an upload is “attached to a post” when you upload it while editing a post. In the uploader there is a “Gallery” tab that shows all the uploads attached to the post you are editing. When you have more than one attachment in a post, you should see at the bottom of the Gallery tab a button marked “Insert gallery”. That button inserts a shortcode  into the post. WordPress replaces that shortcode with an exposition of all images attached to that post. Non-image file types are excluded from the gallery. Note: If you don’t see the “Insert gallery” button, it may be because you have not attached two images to the post. The pretty URLs for attachments are made only after you have published the post and should be composed as the post permalink plus the attachment slug.

Hosting Company: A hosting company, or host, is the service that allows you to make your blog accessible on the internet. Your site “lives” on a server that is maintained by the host and is published to the internet by that service. A hosting provider is a company or organization which provides, usually for a fee, infrastructure for making information accessible via the web. This involves the use of a web server (including web server software such as Apache), and may involve one or more related technologies, such as FTP, PHP, MySQL, and operating system software such as Windows, Linux, or Unix. Our hosting company of choice is GoDaddy.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML): HTML is the W3C standard language with which all web pages are built. It is the predecessor to XHTML, but the term HTML is still used to describe either one. It is often used in conjunction with CSS and/or JavaScript. WordPress strives to conform to the XHTML standard.

JavaScript: JavaScript is a programming language that WordPress uses to make certain processing occur in your web browser when it is inconvenient or impossible for the server to do that processing. For example, when you reply to a comment in a WordPress blog, WordPress uses JavaScript to move the comment form inside the comment you are replying to.

Linux: Linux is an open source computer operating system, created by Linus Torvalds, similar in style to Unix. It is popular in web server and other high-performance computing environments, and has recently begun to gain popularity in workstation environments as well.

Meta: Meta has several meanings, but generally means information about something. In WordPress, meta usually refers to administrative information. As described in Meta Tags in WordPress, meta is the HTML tag used to describe and define a web page to the outside world (search engines). In the article Post Meta Data, meta refers to information associated with each post, such as the author’s name and the date posted. Meta Rules define the general protocol to follow when using the Codex. Also, many WordPress-based sites offer a Meta section, usually found in the sidebar, with links to login or register at that site. Finally, Meta is a MediaWiki namespace that refers to administrative functions within Codex.

Mommy Blogger: Sometimes considered a derogatory term, mommy bloggers are bloggers who typically blog about their home and family in a memoir-type format.

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MySQL: MySQL is a popular open source SQL (Structured Query Language) database implementation, available for many platforms, including Windows, Unix/Linux and Mac OS X. WordPress requires a MySQL database to store all blog information, including posts, comments, metadata, and other information.

Niche: Your niche is the topic area on which you focus on your blog.

Page: Pages vs. Posts are a bit confusing and we will spend an entire article discussing them. In general, you should use Pages for static content. Pages generally have their own navigation in WordPress and are good for subjects like ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’, etc. You can easily select different templates for pages and they are not categorized. A Page should not be confused with the time-oriented objects called posts. Pages are typically “timeless” in nature and live “outside” your blog. The word “page” has long been used to describe any HTML document on the web. In WordPress, however, “Page” refers to a very specific feature.

Pageviews: Pageviews refer to the number of times the individual pages and posts are viewed on your site. This is tracked through a site tracker such as Google Analytics.

PHP: PHP is a recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a popular server-side scripting language designed specifically for integration with HTML, and is used (often in conjunction with MySQL) in Content Management Systems such as WordPress. It is available on many platforms, including Windows, Unix/Linux and Mac OS X, and is open source software. WordPress is written using PHP and requires it for operation.

phpMyAdmin: phpMyAdmin is a popular, powerful web-based interface for administering MySQL databases. It is open source, written in PHP, and is among the better tools available for working with MySQL databases.

Pingback / Trackback: Pingbacks and Trackbacks comprise an alert system that shows you when other blogs have linked to your posts. While it can be helpful to see pingbacks, spam sites often use them to spread irrelevant links. Pingbacks notify the author of an article if you link to his blog. If the links you include in an article you write on a blog lead to a blog which is pingback-enabled, then the author of that blog gets a notification in the form of a pingback that you linked to his article.

Plugin: Plugins are a collection of files that you can download and install to add certain functionality to your site. For instance, there are plugins for e-commerce, Search Engine Optimization, to create specific features like a calendar, or to modify how you control and operate your website. There are 1,000′s of plugins, most of which are free. A Plugin is a group of php functions that can extend the functionality present in a standard WordPress weblog. These functions may all be defined in one php file, or may be spread among more than one file. Usually, a plugin is a php file that can be uploaded to the “wp-content/plugins” directory on your webserver, where you have installed WordPress. Once you have uploaded the plugin file, you should be able to “turn it on” or Enable it from the “Plugins” page in the administration interface of your weblog. The WordPress source code contains hooks that can be used by plugins.

Post: A post is an individual entry on your blog. Posts, unlike pages, are used when you will be creating multiple entries about a particular topic. You can put Posts into various Categories. WordPress will then automatically handle creating various Category pages, which will list all of the Posts in that Category, generally showing only an Excerpt of the Post and putting the Posts in chronological order. For instance, if you had a blog on Hollywood happenings, you would use Posts each time you write a new entry about some celebrity doing something stupid. Also known as “articles” and sometimes incorrectly referred to as “blogs”. In WordPress, “posts” are articles that you write to populate your blog.

Post Slug: A few words describing an entry, for use in permalinks (replaces the %posttitle% field therein), especially useful if titles tend to be long or they change frequently.

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Post Status: The status of a post, as set in the Post Administration is either: Published (viewable by everyone), Draft (incomplete post viewable by anyone with proper user level), or Private (viewable only to WordPress users at Administrator level).

Post Type: Post type refers to the various structured data that is maintained in the WordPress posts table. Native (or built-in) registered post types are post, page, attachment, revision, and nav-menu-item. Custom post types are also supported in WordPress and can be defined with register_post_type(). Custom post types allow users to easily create and manage such things as portfolios, projects, video libraries, podcasts, quotes, chats, and whatever a user or developer can imagine.

Professional Blogger: Used somewhat subjectively, a professional blogger typically refers to someone who earns an income on their blog. Sometimes it’s reserved for those bloggers who earn a full-time income.

RSS Feed: The RSS — or real simple syndication — feed on a blog allows readers to subscribe to the blog in a feed reader or by email to receive updates when new posts are published. An RSS feed can contain a summary of content or the full text, and makes it easier for people to keep up to date with sites they like in an automated manner. Feed readers display hyperlinks, and include other metadata (information about information) that helps people decide whether they want to read more, follow a link, or move on. The original intent of RSS is to make information come to you (via the feed reader) instead of you going out to look for it (via the Web).

Search Engine Optimization: Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the practice of looking for ways to increase your site’s ranking in Google and other search tools so that people who search relevant terms are more likely to discover your site.

Shortcode: A Shortcode is a technique for embedding a snippet of PHP code into the body of a page or other content item.

Sidebar: A sidebar is a section of your website that generally displays the along the left or right side of your pages, but can also appear in other places, such as the footer. You can have multiple sidebars in your site based on the templates you have. A sidebar is a vertical column provided by a theme for displaying information other than the main content of the web page. Themes usually provide at least one sidebar at the left or right of the content. Sidebars often contain widgets that an administrator of the site can customize. In a theme, sidebars are generated by a template file, typically named sidebar.php.

Site: In the WordPress user interface, a site can simply be the website created by WordPress, or it can be a virtual website created as part of a network by the multisite feature. A site in a network is virtual in the sense that it does not have its own directory on the server, although it has its own URL and it might have its own domain name.

Spam: Comment spam refers to random, irrelevant and/or fake comments that are posted to blogs in an attempt to artificially increase a site’s ranking or traffic. Spammers use various methods to distribute their electronic junk mail, and employ bots, or computer programs to quickly and easily send email or comments to millions of addresses and IPs all over the world. Spammers can be difficult to track down as they often hijack peoples’ email and IP addresses. When this happens, it may appear a friend sent you the spam, but in fact, the spammer’s bot grabbed your friend’s email address and used it to hide the true source of the spam. WordPress developers and community members are constantly working on more and better ways to combat these annoying spammers as they clog the internet with their garbage. You can help by offering your talents, ideas, suggestions, or just by being vigilant and installing any of the currently-available spam combating tools.

Subscribers: Subscribers are blog visitors who sign up to receive updates from a blog via email or feed reader each time a new post is posted or on a set schedule such as weekly or monthly.

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Tag: Tags are the keywords and phrases that you use to describe an individual blog post. You can add tags for each individual post as you are writing the posts. Think of words or phrases that someone might use in a Google search to get to your content. A tag is a keyword which describes all or part of a Post. Think of it like a Category, but smaller in scope. A post may have several tags, many of which relate to it only peripherally. Like Categories, Tags are usually linked to a page which shows all posts having the same tag. Tags can be created on-the-fly by simply typing them into the tag field. Tags can also be displayed in “clouds” which show large numbers of Tags in various sizes, colors, etc. This allows for a sort of total perspective on the blog, allowing people to see the sort of things your blog is about most. Many people confuse Tags and Categories, but the difference is easy: Categories generally don’t change often, while your Tags usually change with every Post.

Template: In WordPress, templates are one of several specific files that control how a particular page on your site is displayed. For instance, your theme may have multiple page layouts, perhaps one with a sidebar and one without. There are also templates that control the top of all your pages including navigation, called a “header”, the bottom of all your pages, called a “footer”, and “sidebars” (see below). Templates can also be created for a specific page or post, category, and much more. The templates are like building blocks that make up the complete web page.

Text Editor: A text editor is a program which edits files in plain text format, as compared to binary format. Using a non-text based word processing program (e.g. using Microsoft Word to edit PHP scripts) can cause major problems in your code. This is because non-text based word processing programs insert extra formatting into text files, and can corrupt the files when they need to be interpreted by the interpreter. An editor like Notepad does not insert any extra formatting. I use Kimodo Edit as my text editor. Particularly, I enjoy the way Kimodo color-codes the text based on the coding language.

Theme: A theme is used to customize the elements of a blog — such as the header at the top, the sidebar, the font size and style, etc. — through a series of prompts rather than having to create all of the code manually. A Theme is a collection of files that create the visual look of your WordPress website or blog. Themes are like skins that you can easily download, install and start using on your site. Themes also can include some custom features to give you greater control over the presentation and functionality of your site. In general, only one Theme can be used at a time.

URL / Permalink: The URL is the “address” of anything on the internet. It typically includes http:// or https:// at the beginning. A permalink refers to the URL of an individual blog post or page after it is no longer on the homepage of a blog. Your URL structure is very important to Search Engine Optimization and helps your visitors to remember and navigate your website structure. In WordPress, you can easily create Permalinks, which are a particular structure to your site. Instead of using meaningless URL’s like yourdomain.com/?p=8, you could have yourdomain.com/my-page/. You can control the permalinks for each Page and Post in WordPress. A permalink is a URL at which a resource or article will be permanently stored. Many pages driven by Content Management Systems contain excerpts of content which is frequently rotated, making linking to bits of information within them a game of chance. Permalinks allow users to bookmark full articles at a URL they know will never change, and will always present the same content. Permalinks are optional in WordPress, but are highly recommended as they greatly increase the cleanliness of URL. 

Vlog: Shorthand for a video blog, a Vlog features the blogger talking or demonstrating an activity rather than (or in addition to) providing written instructions or commentary.

Web Server: A web server is a computer that contains software and connects to infrastructure for hosting web sites written in HTML. The most common web server software on the internet is Apache, which is frequently used in conjunction with PHP, Perl, and other scripting languages. It is possible to create one’s own web server, hosted on any speed of internet connection, but many people choose to purchase packages from hosting providers, who have the capacity and facilities to provide adequate bandwidth, uptime, hardware, updates, and maintenance for frequently-visited web sites.

Widget: Widgets are the individual blocks of content that go into a sidebar. You can easily add, delete, or rearrange Widgets in your sidebars by dragging and dropping them in the WordPress admin center. Many Widgets can also be edited to give you extra control over how theys appear on your site. Some common examples of Widgets are simple text, recent posts, and advertising such as AdSense.

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For additional or updated WordPress terms, see the WordPress Glossary.

Author: Steph

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