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Tech Glossary for the Nontechnical: Edition 3

Tech words to help you sound more tech-savvy

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Speaking to a group of techies can be hard. It can feel as if you’ve stumbled into a conversation where everyone is speaking a dialect of Mandarin. Also, you don’t always have time to Google “CMS” or find out why our friends in Europe are getting so upset about Cookies.

Sometimes all you want is a simple explanation, not a long drawn out commentary. That’s what we’re trying to do here: a jargon-free, plain-English tech dictionary. We’ve compiled a list of terms you’ll need if you’re considering speaking to anyone that knows how to ‘computer’. There’s a lot we didn’t cover here. It’s part of a series of weekly posts that I’ll be doing to try to boost your tech vocabulary.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of traffic to a website that leaves without reading any of the content.

Call to Action (CTA)

A call to action is the text, button, or image on a web page or email, prompting a visitor to take action. CTAs are a marketing tool that converts web users into leads for businesses.


Embedding is the process of putting images, video, or social media content on a web page. When you see a YouTube video on a page, that’s an example of embedding. To embed something you use HTML, and most social media sites have an “Embed” option that gives you the link you’ll need.

Grid system

Grids are columns and rows that are used as guidelines to arrange content. Grids help provide a base of uniformity and consistency in design, making it more legible for the viewer.


Mentions are ways of referring to a person or account on social media platforms. Mentions are a way for companies to measure their social media footprint.

User-generated content

User-generated content is content that gets created by users, not by companies. When a local deli reposts a Facebook user’s positive review, or Coca-Cola retweets a picture of a Twitter user drinking a Coke, that’s user-generated content.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

SEM is the use of paid advertising (such as copy, listings, and video clips) on search engines to drive user traffic to your site.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Doing SEO on a site means optimizing so the site is more likely to show up in unpaid search results. SEO uses algorithms based on the search engine’s behavior and analyzing keywords. A word of warning–overdoing it could have consequences. “Stuffing” your page/post with keywords will get you into the ‘bad books’ on Google’s rankings.


Sitemaps are plans or maps of the pages that make up a site structure. They show the relationship between the pages and links. A sitemap normally takes the form of a document or its own page on the website.

User Persona

Personas are theoretical user profiles created by user experience designers. They describe the envisaged user of a site (or app). User personas are built using demographic information, user research, and studying customer experience metrics.

Watch this space for my weekly list of ‘words to know’ in tech!



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Kevin Meldau

Kevin Meldau

Software engineer at Polar Notion