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99 Terms You Need To Know When You’re New To Tech

99 tech terms
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Are you new to tech and feeling like sometimes you can’t even follow what people are talking about? Or have you already broken into the industry but are feeling like a bit of a fake because there are still so many terms to tackle?

Tech phrases and expressions can be tough to decipher – even with the most frantic of Googling! But sometimes all you need is a short and simple explanation to get your head around a concept and remember it the next time it comes up when you’re learning to code or in a meeting at work.

And that’s exactly what I have for you here – jargon-free, plain-English definitions of the fundamental terms you need to know to make your way in tech.

I bet you’ll find more than a few you’ve always wondered about. So, you can scratch them off your “What the heck is that?” list right away. Plus, you can bookmark this list to come back to whenever you run across another word that has you baffled.

And, if you’re ready to go from understanding tech concepts to making a great career with them, join us for a Skillcrush Blueprint. It’s the perfect way to get the tech skills you need in everything from web design to web development or WordPress to Ruby on Rails – and our next session will be starting SOON!

Social Media

1. Content curation

Choosing online content to share

2. Engagement

How much people use and interact with social media
Example: liking posts on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, viewing pins on Pinterest

3. Embedding

Putting social media content on a web page
Example: including a YouTube video in a blog post

4. Impressions

How many times a piece of social media content is seen

5. Influencer

Person who affects opinions and behavior through social media

6. Mention

Referring to a person or account on social media
Example: @mention on Twitter, +mention on Google+

7. Microblogging

Using social media to share content like text, photos, videos, etc.
Example: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

8. Organic

Content that ranks highly because people have liked it or viewed it, not because companies have paid to promote the content

9. Reach

How many people see social media content

10. Social graph

Network of relationships between Internet users

11. User-generated content (UGC)

Social media content created by users, not by companies or organizations

Online marketing

12. Affiliate marketing

Using other people or organizations to bring in customers via ads or content on their website
Marketing affiliates can get payments or discounts for the customers they bring in

13. Bounce rate

Percentage of website visitors who leave a website quickly without really looking at it

14. Call to Action (CTA)

Text or image on a web page that asks a visitor to do something like read more content, join an email list, sign up for a webinar, buy a product, etc.

15. Click through rate (CTR)

Percentage of people who click on links on web pages or in marketing emails

16. Funnel

Series of events or actions a person takes in moving from being a potential customer to an actual customer
Example: visit a website, then sign up for a newsletter, and then buy a product

17. Impression

Number of times people see a certain piece of web content

18. Keyword

Word or phrases used to search for online content

19. Marketing automation

Using software or online services to automates and measure marketing efforts with things like marketing emails, customer relationship management, social media, reporting, and analytics
Example: HubSpot, MailChimp, Act-On

20. Multichannel

Using different marketing platforms
Example: using website banner ads, Facebook ads, and marketing emails

21. Search engine marketing (SEM)

Advertising on search engines
Example: AdWords, Bing Words

22. SEO

Search Engine Optimization
Making a website or web page rank high in online search results

23. Traffic

Amount of people who visit a website

Growth hacking

24. A/B testing

Presenting two different versions of online content, like a web page or marketing email, to see which one users respond to better

25. Content marketing

Using online content, like e-books, videos, blog posts, etc, to get more users or customers

26. Conversion

Turning a potential customer into an actual customer

27. Data mining

Going through large amounts of data to find new, useful information

28. Email marketing

Using direct emails to communicate with current and potential customers

29. Growth hacking

Creatively using technology, analytics, strategy in combination with product development to increase a company’s growth

30. Optimization

Developing a website to convert visitors to customers

Graphic Design

31. Color value

Way to define colors
Example: hexadecimal color code (#000000), color name (black), RGB code (0, 0, 0)

32. Colory theory

Characteristics of colors and the relationships between them

33. Grid system

Set of columns and rows that can be used as guidelines to arrange content on a web page

34. PPI

Also called “density”
How many pixels per inch on a device display with higher ppi giving sharper images and text
Example: 326 ppi of iPhone 6

35. Raster

Image made of pixels so it can be styled more but loses quality when made bigger
Example: photo

36. Resolution

How many pixels can be shown on a device’s display with higher resolution meaning more information can be shown
Example: 1334 by 750 pixel resolution of iPhone 6

37. Retina display

Term trademarked by Apple for an electronic device display with density so high (usually over 300 ppi) that people can’t see the individual pixels

38. Vector

Image made up of lines calculated mathematically so it can’t be styled as much but doesn’t lose quality when it’s made bigger
Example: logo

User Experience

39. Mood board

Collection of content showing the visual style for a website including color palette, images, icons, fonts, etc.

40. Sitemap

Outline, or map, of the pages needed for a website

41. UI

User interface
How a website is laid out and how users interact with it

42. User flow

Map of the path users take from getting to a website through taking one of an action on the site

43. User persona

Profile of an imaginary person who would use a website used to define who a site is for and what their needs are

44. User research

Investigating how users act and what they need and want to better design a website for them

45. UX

User experience
How people feel when they use a website

46. Wireframe

Simple sketch of the key information that goes on each web page


47. Font

Typeface at a certain size and weight
Example: 14pt bold Arial

48. Kerning

Adjusting the amount of space between characters

49. Leading (pronounced “led-ing”)

Vertical distance between lines of text on a website

50. Typeface or Font family

Group of fonts
Example: Arial

51. Type hierarchy

System of using different font sizes for text on a website to organize it and make it more visual appealing

52. Serif

Small line added to letters of “serif” font families that aren’t a characteristic san serif font families
Example of serif font: Times Roman
Example of san serif font: Arial

Frontend development

53. Front end

Part of a website that can be seen by users and includes HTML and CSS


54. Attribute

More information about element contents that are in the opening tag and made up of the attribute name, an equal sign, and a value in double quotes
Example: alt=”My image”

55. Element

HTML code made up of an opening tag, a closing tag, and information between them
Example: 〈p〉This is my paragraph!〈/p〉

56. HTML

HyperText Markup Language
Coding language used to put content on a web page and give it structure

57. HTML5

The most current version of HTML

58. Meta elements

Elements that give the browser more information about the whole web page
Example: title, link, meta

59. Opening tag & Closing tag

Set of angle brackets with an HTML element character(s) that contains a piece of content or part of the structure for a web page
Example of opening tag: 〈p〉
Example of closing tag: 〈/p〉

60. Self-closing tag

Opening tag that doesn’t have a closing tag but instead “closes itself” with a forward slash before the right angle bracket
Example: 〈img src=”http://example.com/myimage.jpg” alt=”My image”/〉

61. Semantic element

Element that gives the browser more information about the content in it
Example: em, abbr, s

62. Structural element

Element that helps organize the content of a web page
Example: h1, p, div, span


63. CSS

Cascading Style Sheets
Code to tell browsers how to format and style HTML for a web page

64. CSS3

The most current version of CSS

65. Declaration

CSS code inside pair of curly brackets which has property and value for the selector
Example: {font-size: 1.5em;}

66. Property

Characteristic of the HTML changed by CSS
Example: font-size, color, margin

67. Selector

Part of CSS code that tells which HTML element the styling is for
Example with p as selector: p {font-size: 12px;}

68. Value

Setting for a CSS property
Example: 1.5em, red, 20px

Backend development

69. API

Application Programming Interface
How computers and web applications share information with each other

70. Application

Type of software also called “app” and often used to refer to mobile device software

71. Back end

Part of a website or web service that makes it work and includes applications, web servers, and databases

72. Bug

Mistake or unwanted piece of code that keeps a website or program from working like it should

73. DevOps

Way of working to help development, operations, and quality teams understand each other and collaborate better

74. Framework

Collection of programs and components used in software development
Example: Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap, AngularJS, Joomla

75. Object-oriented programming (OOP)

Programming that allows the creation of objects that have specific and unique attributes and abilities
Example of OOP language: Ruby, PHP, Python

76. Software

Program or set of instructions that tells a computer, phone, or tablet what to do and includes applications and system software like operating systems, drivers, and utilities

77. Text editor

Software used to write plain text (with no formatting) that’s used for coding and programming
Example: SublimeText, TextEdit, TextWrangler, Notepad++

78. Version control

System to keep track of changes to code and files and allows going back to earlier versions
Example: Git

79. Web server

Computer that can be accessed through the internet or software that responds to server requests


80. Caching

When a web browser stores assets, like images and styles, so that the website will load faster on the next visit from the same user

81. Cloud computing

Storing and accessing information and services via the Internet

82. Firewall

System to protect a trusted computer network, like a home network, from security risks from an external one, like the Internet

83. Router

Device used to connect personal computers to the Internet via a network like cable or DSL

84. Uptime & downtime

How long a website, computer, or system has been working (uptime) or not working (downtime)

85. Virtual Machine (VM)

Software that makes it possible to use one computer operating system on a computer running another system
Example: running Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro

86. VPN – Virtual Private Network

Network that allows the Internet to be used like it was connected to a private network (instead of a public one) and so can improve security


87. Big data

Massively large sets of digital information

88. Data architecture

How data is collected, stored, accessed, and used in companies and organizations

89. Database

Collection of electronic information, aka data

90. Data modelling

Determining what kind of data is needed and how it will be structured and organized

91. Data visualization

Using graphs, charts, tables, infographics, etc. to better tell about data and findings from it

92. Relational database management system

System for handling digital information using tables
Example: SAP, MySQL


93. Hybrid app

Application that will work on different platforms and is a combination of a native app and a web app

94. IDE

Integrated development environment
Application used for software development
Example: Eclipse, Visual Studio, VIM

95. Native app

Application that’s been made specifically for a certain device platform
Example: Mail for iOS; Ingress for Android

96. NFC

Near Field Communication
Technology that lets mobile and other devices communicate using radio waves when they’re very close to each other (about 4 inches or less) and is used for services like sharing files, pairing with accessories, or wireless payments

97. Responsive

Website that adapts gracefully to different-sized devices like phones, tablets, wearable devices, etc.

98. SDK

Software Development Kit
Set of tools for creating certain kinds of software

99. Web app

Website that looks and feels like an app
Also called “HTML5 app”

Get our Free Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners

Get our Free Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners

Make a plan for learning the tech skills you need to land a new job with this 60+ page FREE ebook!

You can unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. We won't use your email address for anything else, promise!

Kelli Smith

Kelli handles customer support here at Skillcrush – plus she's an early alum of Skillcrush 101! She's also taken advanced web development classes and has been an organizer in the Helsinki Rails Girls chapter.

In addition to helping the Skillcrush team and students, Kelli loves tech podcasts, cute Corgi photos, and Catalan style line dancing — as a true Texan living in Finland would!

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  1. Junior Replied

    Good job, this is very useful for me. Thanks Kelli.

  2. Anonymous Replied

    Thank you so much. I often am left confused with terminology.  You have clarified so much for this baby boomer.  :)

  3. Karen Yap Replied

    This is a great, comprehensive list.  Thanks for putting this together. 

  4. Aliyah Replied

    This is the perfect website to get these terms for my homework

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