A quick reference guide: general website and specific Shopify terminologies

A quick reference guide: general website and specific Shopify terminologies

We appreciate that it can be overwhelming when getting to grips with a new website platform. Part of the learning process is understanding the different terminologies, so we thought it would be useful to put together a quick reference guide for you.
This list by no means exhaustive, in fact, we have purposively stripped it down to include those terms that we feel confuse most people – without going too deep or getting too technical!


General website terminologies

IP addresses – this is like home addresses for websites, as well as devices connected to the internet. They enable the fast and efficient transfer of data between browsers and devices. An IP address will look something like this -

URL - stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This would be the website address of a single page such as https://www.bluehorizonsmarketing.co.uk/pages/our-work

Domain name – Domain names were designed to make website addresses easier to identify – so rather than you can type an easy to remember domain name in the browser address bar such as google.co.uk

Sub domain – a subdomain is a child domain under the main domain name, for example example.com, might use the subdomain shop.example.com. Once you register a domain, you have the permission to create subdomains for it by yourself.

Domain Registrar – this is the company who you purchased your domain from. When you enter a domain name in your web browser, it first sends a request to a b=global network of servers that form the Domain Name System (DNS). These servers then look up the name servers associated with the domain and forward the request to those name servers.

These name servers are computers managed by your hosting company. Your hosting company will forward your request to the computer where your website is stored (this is called a web server). The web server now fetches the web page and pieces of information associated with it and then sends this data back to the browser.

Browser - also known as an internet browser or simply a browser, is a software application that lets people access the World Wide Web – for example Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge are all browsers.

Search Engines - allow users to search the internet for content using keywords. Examples include Google, Bing, Yahoo! When a user enters a query into a search engine, a search engine results page (SERP) is returned, ranking the found pages in order of their relevance. How this ranking is done differs across search engines.

Search engines often change their algorithms (the programs that rank the results) to improve user experience. They aim to understand how users search and give them the best answer to their query. This means giving priority to the highest quality and most relevant pages.
There are three key steps to how most search engines work:
Crawling - search engines use programs, called spiders, bots or crawlers, to scour the internet. They may do this every few days, so it is possible for content to be out-of-date until they crawl your website again.
• Indexing - the search engine will try to understand and categorise the content on a web page through 'keywords'. Following SEO best practice will help the search engine understand your content so you can rank for the right search queries.
• Ranking - search results are ranked based on a number of factors. These may include keyword density, speed and links. The search engine's aim is to provide the user with the most relevant result.

Operating System - is the most important software that runs on a computer. It manages the computer's memory and processes, as well as its software and hardware. Microsoft Windows and macOS are examples of operating systems.

Handle – online, this refers to the name of used for your account, for example for Instagram our handle would be @bluehorizonsmarketing

Render – To convert any coded content to the required format for display or printing. Although the term is typically used to refer to images, it may refer to any data. For example, an HTML page, which contains text and graphics, is said to be "rendered" when it is displayed.

Pixel - (pix = picture, el = element). A pixel is represented by a dot or square on a computer monitor display screen. Pixels are the basic building blocks of a digital image or display and are created using geometric coordinates. The physical size of a pixel varies, depending on the resolution of the display.

DPI (dots per inch) and PPI (pixels per inch) – used to measure the resolution of an image

HTML - HyperText Markup Language - is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be assisted by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets and scripting languages such as JavaScript

CSS - Cascading Style Sheets is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language such as HTML.

JavaScript, PHP, Liquid – types of programming language

Front end and Back end - The term front-end refers to the user interface, while back-end means the server, application and database that work behind the scenes to deliver information to the user.


Shopify specific terminologies

Your Shopify URL – Your Shopify store URL will be in the format [your-shop-name].myshopify.com

Theme – a template that determines the way that your online store looks and feels.

Theme editor – the tool for changing and previewing theme settings in real-time which you can access from your Shopify admin.

Collection – In Shopify a collection is a category used to organise your products. Collections can either be manual (where you manually select which products to add) or automated (where you select conditions and criteria for products to be automatically added to a collection).
Product Editor – this refers to the area in the admin section where you can edit individual product details.

Bulk Editor – this refers to the area in the admin section where you use the tick-box mechanism to edit several products ‘in bulk’ at the same time, similar to a spreadsheet type editor.

Product Status – there are three product status settings;
Active – This is a live product that is visible on one or more sales channels
Draft – useful if you are building up your inventory
Archived - If you no longer want to display a product in your online store, but you don’t want to permanently delete the product, then you can archive the product instead. If you archive a product, then the product is moved to the Archived tab of the Products page.

Channel or Sales Channel – This is a place where you can list and sell your products, including your online store, Facebook, Instagram and Google Shopping.

Product Availability - Products can be selected to be available or not available on the various sales channels you connect with options including:
Unavailable on all channels – this would set your product as not showing/hidden on any of the sales channels connected on your store
Available on online store – your product will be visible on your website
Unavailable on online store – your product will be hidden on your website

Product Tags – in Shopify tags are used to keep things organised. You can use tags as labels to search and filter things like products, transfers, customers, orders, draft orders, and blog posts. As well as organising products into collections. Your online store search also uses tags to categorise products, organize search results for customers and as a way of filtering within a collection.

Product Variants - You add variants to a product that comes in more than one option, such as size or colour. Each combination of option values for a product can be a variant for that product.

Product Vendor – this can be used to organise products by particular brand. For example if you were selling trainers you could use Nike, Adidas, Asics.

Product Type – this is another method to organise your products, for example for Womens Clothing you may organise products by the following types – skirts, dresses, trousers, tshirts.

Filter – a filter enables users to narrow down a search with smaller sub-sets.

Import/Export – within Shopify you can import in and/or export out data such as customers, orders or products via a CSV file

Inventory – this refers to your stock – the quantities that you have available for your products

SKU – Stock Keeping Unit is a code that individual retailers use internally to track their inventory. A SKU can be anything that you choose – numbers, letters or a combination of both.

Barcode – a barcode is a way to encode information into a visual pattern (those black lines and white spaces) that a machine (a barcode scanner) can read. A barcode scanner will read this pattern of black and white bars and translate them into a line of text that your retail point of sale system can understand. Barcodes are more accurate as they do not rely on manual data entry which is prone to errors.

Template – Creating an alternate template allows you to modify the way content is shown on your online store, for example you may wish to create a different template for a specific products or perhaps create a template for a specific page within your store that isn’t available within the theme editor.

Payment Gateway – A payment gateway is a merchant service provided by an e-commerce application service provider that authorises credit card or direct payments processing for ecommerce and/or retail. Shopify has its own payment gateway – ‘Shopify Payments’ however Shopify does integrates with over 100 other third party payment gateways, in countries all over the world.

Shopify Payments – allows you to accept payments through various credit/debit card providers easily without the need for third party gateways. As it is built into your Shopify store you are able to view payments within your Shopify admin.

Apps – short for applications – are software programmes designed to perform specific functions. In the Shopify App Store you can find apps that integrate your Shopify store with external services such as accounting and emailing programmes and also apps that add features and functions to your store such as product reviews or subscriptions.

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