Communication is the most important part of any relationship. Whether it’s friendship, marriage, or meetings with web design clients. You need to speak the same language. Humans are great adapting their language instantly in conversation, we do it naturally. But you can only fake it so long before you accidentally call the website header the banner and the banner the slider and the footer the footlong. Let’s get our vocabulary straight with a web design glossary.

Each entry starts with one or more of the common terms I hear clients say, followed up by my own term and a description. I’m not saying everyone must use the same language I do, but some of these definitely need some clarification.

Whether you use the words as defined in my glossary or not, agree with your web designer on common terms so you spend your time making great creative decisions instead of translating a foreign language.

Your Web Address is Your Domain Name

Your domain name is an important part of your branding. It’s the identifier you share with customers and prospects to help them find your website. I’m not going to dive into domain name syntax or history. It gets really nerdy very quickly.

URL is the acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. Your domain name is generally used as a URL to locate the homepage your website. And when you see a domain name followed by a longer string of words and identifiers, that’s also a URL to locate a resource like a specific file or web page. You could also fairly call a URL a web address.

When asked for your web address, simply give your domain name.

Your Home Page is Just One of Your Landing Pages

The first page of your website is generally called the home page. Do not call it the landing page. Landing pages mean something specific in marketing different from what we generally mean by home page.

Your home page is the online resource displayed when visitors direct their web browser to your web address (generally that’s your domain name). Your home page provides an introduction to your business and your website’s content, spotlighting the key messages and best parts.

In marketing, a landing page is a specialized page designed to generate new sales leads. It’s generally reached when visitors click an ad or a promoted link on another website. A landing page may give visitors a coupon, discount code, or other promotion in exchange for their contact information. The success of a landing page is measured by how many new leads it generates. While your homepage can certainly function like a landing page, it’s not going to be measured the same way and it’s certainly not the only landing page that matters.

The Top Area of Your Website Is the Header

Now, we get to the confusing terms for different website elements. Many web design clients know some terms from previous experience either with other designers or even from their own previous training with different tools. I think this is where banner comes from.

From what I hear, it’s a general term for the whole top area of a website, before the specific page content begins, including the logo and the navigation links. In the past, when web design trends favored large, decorative graphics in this area, banner made more sense.

Today, I prefer to call this top area the website header. This name is consistent with the use of the <header> HTML tag as a container for the logo and navigation links.

There Are NO Tabs in Your Website Navigation

While I think the term banner has its roots in early web design, calling the navigation links tabs is just guessing. Old web designs did style their navigation links as if they were tabs in a set of file folders, it’s true.

But they aren’t tabs. Call it the menu or navigation. If your website has more than one navigation set (like in the sidebar or above or below the primary set) call the one near the logo the primary menu, secondary menu, sidebar menu, etc.

Sliders, Rotators, and Banners, Oh My!

Sliders are a popular way to display your big headlines and action buttons. You can call it a rotator. You can call it a carousel. Searching for WordPress plugins with any of those words yields useful tools to create large size automatic photo and graphic slideshows.

But don’t call it a banner. I’ve heard this before too, most likely because large sliders are often used as the first content element on the home page directly after the header (also sometimes called the banner). Maybe people confuse them. I call it a slider.

Please Call It a Photo Gallery

Another common web design element is the photo gallery. However, there’s a temptation to call something like this a carousel as well. Most photo galleries work so that each thumbnail image can be clicked to open in a larger size, often with arrows to the left and right to browse more images. I think that “rotating” action of browsing additional images makes people think it’s a carousel. Please call it a photo gallery.

What are some other words you hear working on web design projects? Have you ever lost time and productivity through a communication breakdown? Tell us about your experiences in the comments or share on Twitter. Make sure to mention @pwolfgram and @roundpeg.