Web Design: Understanding Common Abbreviations

These are must know web design acronyms

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If you've been on the web for more than a day, you've noticed that people tend to speak in groupings of letters that have no rational meaning — web developers use a lot of abbreviations and acronyms. In fact, in some cases, you can't even pronounce them. HTML? HTTP? FTP? Isn't that something a cat says when coughing up a hairball? And isn't URL a man's name?

These are some of the more commonly used abbreviations (and a few acronyms) that are used on the web and in web development and design. When you know what they mean, you'll be better prepared to learn to use them.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language

Web pages are written in hypertext, this is not because the text moves quickly, but rather because it can interact (a little) with the reader. A book (or a Word document) will always stay the same each time you read it, but hypertext is meant to be easily changed and manipulated so that it can ultimately be dynamic and change on the page.


This is a combination of the Document Object Model (DOM), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript that allows HTML to interact more directly with the readers. In many ways, DHTML is what makes web pages fun.

DOM: Document Object Model

This is the specification for how the HTML, JavaScript, and CSS interact to form Dynamic HTML. It defines the methods and objects available for web developers to use.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets

Style sheets are directives for browsers to display web pages exactly how the designer would like to display them. They allow for very specific control over the look and feel of a web page.

XML: eXtensible Markup Language

This is a markup language that allows developers to develop their own markup language. XML uses structured tags to define content in a human- and machine-readable format. It is used for maintaining websites, populating databases, and storing information for web programs.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator

This is the web page address. The internet works very much like the post office in that it needs an address to send information to and from. The URL is the address that the web uses. Every web page has a unique URL.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol

FTP is how files are moved across the internet. You can use FTP to connect to your web server and put your web files there. You can also access files via a browser with the


HTTP: HyperText Transfer Protocol

You will most often see the abbreviation HTTP in a URL at the front, e.g.

When you see this in a URL, it means that you are asking the web server to show you a web page. HTTP
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Kyrnin, Jennifer. "Web Design: Understanding Common Abbreviations." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/web-abbreviations-3464039. Kyrnin, Jennifer. (2023, April 5). Web Design: Understanding Common Abbreviations. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/web-abbreviations-3464039 Kyrnin, Jennifer. "Web Design: Understanding Common Abbreviations." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/web-abbreviations-3464039 (accessed June 3, 2023).