Tech Terms Crash Course: 19 Terms to Know

StartUp Programming Team
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As you start learning about all things tech, you’ll probably run across so many new vocabulary words that you feel like you’re back in high school studying for the SAT again. To get you started, here’s a guide to basic tech terms everyone should know...even if you’re a beginner.

User Experience (UX)

User Experience deals with the way a person experiences a product, especially in regards to websites or apps.

UX is primarily concerned with ease of use and user satisfaction/enjoyment.

1. Sitemap: An outline of all the pages on a website

2. UI: User interface. Every part of a machine that users interact with; counts things like displays, screens, keyboards, mouse/touchpads, etc.

3. User research: Observation and analysis conducted with the goal of understanding user needs and behaviors.

4. Wireframe: Sketch of what a website/web app will look like, includes key components on the site.

Workflow Tools & Hardware

Tools that help increase your productivity and efficiency.

5. Text editor: Software used in coding and programming to write plain, unformatted text. Examples: Sublime Text, Brackets, TextEdit, TextWrangler, Notepad++

6. IDE: Integrated development environment. Helps people program more efficiently. Similar to a text editor, but has more features. Examples: PyCharm, Webstorm

7. Router: A router is the step between a modem and a computer.

When information arrives at a modem via broadband, the router deciphers and sends that data to your computer.

8. Virtual machine (VM):  A virtual machine is, essentially, software that behaves like hardware: it has no physical presence but can run programs like a physical machine. The two types of VMs are system virtual machines (designed to run entire operating systems) and process virtual machines (designed to run only one program).

9. Virtual Private Network (VPN): VPNs provide an additional layer of security to networks. They can be used for public or private networks, but are most common in corporations that want to protect data.

10. Version control: Version control is a system that tracks changes to a file or set of files over time. It allows you to recall specific versions later if certain changes fail to work, saving you the trouble of undoing all the steps. Example: Git

11. Task manager: Applications that make it possible to automate repetitive but necessary tasks, streamlining your work process. Examples: Grunt, Gulp

Front-end Development

Also known as the “client side”, because it’s what users/clients will see on their computers. The “front end” of a website or app involves the display/design coded into it.

12. HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. The “face” of the internet. All websites have HTML. Web browsers read HTML files and convert them into the website you ultimately see.

13. CSS: Cascading Style Sheets. If HTML is the “face,” CSS is the “makeup”. It allows you to choose styles and add variety.

14. JavaScript: Runs in the client (one of the few programming languages that do). Most popular language in web development.

Now used on the back end, too.

Back-end Development

Often called “server side,” the back end is what happens behind the scenes to make a website or app run—the front end is the face, and the back end is the brain. Includes servers and databases.

15. API: Application Programming Interface. Used in software development to provide a set of rules and building blocks for a program.

16. Database: Collection of a web app’s data.

17. DevOps: Software development method designed to help teams communicate and work together better. Unites developers with other IT workers with the end goal of increased production and efficiency.

18. Framework: Full term is “web application framework.” These trim the time that it takes to build a website/app by providing pre-coded templates and libraries, so you have a “base” to build on.

19. Web server: The primary purpose of a web server is to store content and deliver it to clients. It can be hardware (a web-accessible computer) or software (a program that detects and responds to server requests).


19 tech terms down, only a couple hundred (or thousands) to go. Take it slow, don’t get overwhelmed, and you’ll have them mastered in no time.

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