Web design is more sophisticated than ever. Understand the essentials to take your presence to the next level.

The topic of web performance can be rather difficult to master. Especially if you don’t have a grasp on some of the most commonly used terms and phrases. So, in order to better assist you in navigating the language of the industry, we’ve compiled a list of the top 25 words used when discussing web performance.

1. Web Performance Optimization (WPO)

The processes and techniques used to measure and improve performance. More specifically, it refers to the fine-tuning of a web application to create a better user experience.


2. Domain Name Server (DNS)

A portion of the universal system that translates URLs into IP addresses so they can be called from the server. Although most services offer it free or at a low cost, without it your site would become totally inaccessible to users.


3. Time-to-Live (TTL)

The set period of time before a cache is automatically refreshed, so it may reflect any changes that have been made since the last capture.


4. Responsive Design

A mode of design that allows a site to be viewed on any size screen, without compromising user experience. It is made possible by a layout that can shift and change to accommodate the available dimensions.


5. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Nearly identical to the concept of cloud computing, IaaS describes the use of hardware that is owned and operated by another provider in order to reduce costs, heighten security and provide scalability.


6. Web Application

A program that is stored on a remote server and delivered to a user’s browser via an Internet-based service.


7. Dynamic Content

Content that frequently changes in order to better engage a user. Examples include animations, video, audio and moveable text.


8. Static Content

Also known as a flat or stationary page, this is content that remains the same and is delivered to the user exactly as it is stored.


9. Concatenation

The act on joining several character strings together, in order to save space, memory and processing time.


10. Lossless Compression

A class of data compression that allows the original data to be perfectly reconstructed when uncompressed. This is a technique often used for text or spreadsheet files, where losing words or data could prove costly. For images, a GIF or Graphics Interchange File is an image format that provides lossless compression.


11. Domain Sharding

A technique for splitting resources across multiple domains in order to improve load times and search engine visibility. By utilizing multiple domains, web browsers gain the ability to download the varied content simultaneously, resulting in a much faster user experience.


12. Hyper Text

Transport Protocol Secure (HTTPS)A variant of the standard Web Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that adds an additional layer of security by transmitting the data through a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol connection.


13. Sequencing

A method of re-prioritizing content through a reverse proxy that understands the Document Object Model (DOM) in order to manipulate the order of the objects being loaded.


14. Scalability

The capabilities of a system to handle growth and demand by quickly adjusting to meet size, space or content requirements.


15. Omni Channel

A coordinated approach used to interact with customers across multiple touch points, including web, mobile and in-store.


16. Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A server plugin or filter that applies a set of rules aimed at preventing attacks or unwanted access.


17. User Interface (UI)

The way a user interacts with a device or application. This may include screen menus and icons, shortcuts, movements and gestures, command language and physical buttons or touch points.


18. Critical Rendering Path

A series of events that takes place in order to better optimize the rending of a webpage or site. This is done by eliminating unnecessary content loads or by utilizing methods of bundling or staggering the loads.


19. Service Level Agreement (SLA)

An output-based contract between a service provider and an end user that defines the levels of service expected.


20. Third Party Tags

A snippet of code provided by a third party vendor or partner that, when implemented on a website, offers the ability to call to external third party servers.


21. Bounce Rate

The percentage of users who navigate away from a website after viewing only one page.


22. HTTP 2.0 (HTTP/2)

The second major release of the HTTP network protocol. Based on SPDY, it is designed to create more efficient websites by minimizing the number of requests required to render a page, as well as many other performance improvements.


23. User Experience (UX)

The overall physical, mental and emotional experience of a person using a product.


24. A/B Testing / Split Testing

The comparison of two web page variants to see which performs better, based on their conversion rates.


25. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

A type of attack that compromises multiple systems simultaneously. This is done by causing a server or network resource to become unavailable to the public through rapid-fire requests to the service.


We hope that by assisting you in better understanding these commonly used terms and phrases, you’ll have the ability to create more fruitful conversations on the topic of web performance. A knowledge of these will also come in handy when understanding the needs of your own website or app.

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