A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Terminology

If you are just beginning to use WordPress for your content publishing needs, you might be overwhelmed by all the terminology in various tutorials and forums. This article will provide brief explanations of some of the most commonly used terms, helping you get off to a good start.


AJAX is a set of development techniques that allow Web applications to send or retrieve data from a server without interfering with the page that’s currently open. For example, you can add new categories to your WordPress blog as you are writing a new post, and you don’t need to reload the page to do this. You can also moderate comments without having to reload the page after every comment approval or deletion. AJAX incorporates CSS, HTML, XML, JavaScript and several other Web development technologies.


Apache is open-source, free Web server software used by the majority of WordPress hosting providers. Many Web hosts prefer it for its reliability, security and speed. Apache uses various modules and extensions to provide high level of customization, allowing it to accommodate different types of environments.


.htaccess is a file that Apache uses for configuration changes on a per-directory level. It is supported by several web servers and allows for decentralized management of web server configuration.

It can be used to rewrite long URLs into more memorable, shorter ones, as well as to specify security restrictions for a directory, to restrict access by domain or IP address, and to control caching, among other uses.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to transfer files from your computer to your server (where your website is hosted). It comes in very handy when you need to upload files to your server. Take a look at our tutorial here to learn more.


cPanel is a Unix based web hosting control panel that provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a web site. The tools provided in cPanel will help you run your website easily.


MySQL is the world’s second most widely used open-source relational database management system. WordPress uses MySQL database to store all your site’s data.

Content Management System (CMS)

Content management system, also known as CMS, refers to software that allows users to create, edit and publish their content on the Web. WordPress is a full-fledged CMS, giving webmasters control over file organization, display and design, among other elements. And like any good CMS, WordPress lets users of any skill level to create great-looking sites. No knowledge of coding or any other technical aspects are required, unless you want to add some advanced features to your site.


CSS stands for cascading style sheets. It is a term for style sheet language, which designers use for defining the formatting and appearance of HTML files. When you download your preferred WordPress theme, you’ll find that it has a style.css file, which contains the rules for how WordPress pages will be formatted. HTML elements can be styled in CSS to indicate what different tags mean in different sections of the site. You might want the same header size to display differently in a blog post versus a page, and you could use CSS to achieve that. You don’t need to know CSS to be able to work with WordPress, but if you do want to learn it, there are plenty of tutorials that will help you quickly understand how it works.


A lightbox image is usually displayed as an operlay/popup when clicked. In most cases the image in the popup will be larger in size than the original image displayed on your Web page.

The design of the lightbox will depend on your theme or the plugin you are using to achieve this effect. It will often show the caption, photo credit and whatever other details you choose to enter in the image settings. In case of a photo gallery, a lightbox can include back and forward buttons for users to be able to view all images in the form of a slideshow.


A plugin is a program written in PHP language (it will contain some HTML, JavaScript, CSS code too) and designed for WordPress sites. It contains a set of functions used to extend the site’s current functionality or add any new features a user might need. The WordPress repository contains a wide variety of free plugins. You can get a plugin these days for pretty much any feature you can think of.

Responsive Design/Theme

Responsive design makes the theme look equally great on all screen sizes and all devices, from desktop computers to tablets to mobile phones. The layout of the responsive site gets automatically adjusted depending on what screen it is viewed from. It also immediately adjusts itself when users resize their browsers. Responsive themes ensure an optimal viewing experience, where no features or design elements are lost or distorted because of one’s screen size or type.


Shortcodes are WordPress-specific codes that let you add some common features without having to write a lot of code. In other words, they are shortcuts for longer commands. You can create objects with the help of shortcodes, for example, or easily embed audios, videos, images and text files into your posts.


A WordPress theme dictates the design of your site. It contains stylesheets and templates that will define the look and feel of your site.

You can browse and install new themes in the Appearance section of your admin panel. A lot of the good themes are premium, but you can also find plenty of free ones in the WordPress theme directory. Every theme has a unique design and layout, and a lot of the features vary as well. Many of them are designed with different niches in mind; for instance, a photography portfolio theme will concentrate primarily on visual elements, like sliders, galleries and lightboxes, while a theme for writers will allow you to make text the main focus of your site.

Child Theme

When you download a WordPress theme to use on your site, this will usually be your main or parent theme. If you want to make any styling changes to it, you should create a child theme and implement your changes in it instead of modifying the parent theme in any way. Initially, the child theme will inherit the functionality of the parent theme, but you can then override individual functions by making changes to the child theme. If you don’t like the modifications or if things don’t work out for some other reason, you can always get rid of the child theme and revert to all the original functions of the parent theme. You can also safety update the parent theme whenever the new version comes out. All of the changes you made to the child theme will be automatically applied to the new version, so you won’t lose any work you’ve already done. Working with a child theme is a safe way to make modifications, especially if you are just starting out in Web development. You can find a brief guide on creating a child theme here.

RSS Feed

RSS (Rich Site Summary) often dubbed Really Simple Syndication, uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information.

RSS feed allows the user to automatically receive updates (in thier RSS reader) from the website that publishes the feed.

Let me know if I have missed anything?


  1. Leroy says:

    hi, this is nice guide to know about wordpress terminology. FTP is totally new to me and it seems very interesting. Thank you for this post.

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