Some terms described here are strictly about WordPress, while others are related to web development or even online businesses in a broader sense.
The content of this page is regularly updated and is mostly based on clients’ questions. More definitions will be added.
If you notice a typo or some definitions are not clear enough, feel free to let me know.
An archive is a template that automatically lists posts that have some specific information in common. For example, all the posts from the same author.
Popular examples of archives available on WordPress by default are:
- Blog Posts’ Tags
- Blog Posts’ Categories
- Author’s posts
By default, your WordPress theme will use archive.php to determine (all or a part of) the structure of archives, unless a custom archive template file is added to the theme’s files. CPTs can have their own separate archives.
# Bounce Rate
The number of visitors that, after visiting the first page, leave your website without visiting other pages. Generally speaking, a page with a low bounce rate means that it effectively motivates users to view other pages.
It can be difficult to understand if your bounce rate is “good” or “bad” since this data can vary depending on your type of website and the industry you’re in.
Landing pages tend to have, obviously, a bounce rate of 90%+, since users (usually) shouldn’t have the opportunity to visit easily another page on your site. On the other hand, a good bounce rate for an e-commerce website with several products can be around 40%.
Another example: the average blog tends to have a high bounce rate. Even if a minority of users will be loyal to your content and will actively comment on your posts, most of the users visiting blogs, tend to absorb the information from a single post they’re interested in and leave. If the traffic to your blog is coming from social media this can be even more evident since users tend to go back immediately to the social platform.
However, if part of your strategy consists of showing your users multiple pages then it’s in your interest to try to lower the bounce rate as much as possible.
# Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
The metric for measuring how much on average your business spends to acquire one new customer.
To calculate it, you simply divide your marketing costs by the customers acquired in a given period.
In the past month, you invested $3,000 in marketing and sales. You acquired 40 new subscribers. Your CAC will be $75.
$3,000 / 40 = $75 of CAC
# Custom Theme
WordPress developers can use this term to indicate a custom child theme or an entire custom WordPress theme built from scratch.
In some projects, custom child themes can be extremely complex and completely revamp the default theme’s design and functionality. In fact, in my experience, most of the time, the term “custom theme” refers to custom child themes.
Customizing a child theme can be the best solution for some clients, especially if they want to continue using specific features provided by the parent theme.
Developing a complete custom WordPress theme from scratch usually requires a substantially higher budget. In addition, it often means giving up on existing features, which could force the client’s team to change their current workflow.
However, the higher costs of a full custom theme will also bring benefits that aren’t always possible with custom child themes.
# Churn Rate
Mainly used in subscription business models, the Churn Rate is the percentage of customers that cancel their subscription in a specific period of time. Usually, the Churn Rate is measured on a monthly or annual basis.
Churn is an essential metric for subscription and membership businesses since you can use it to calculate the average LifeTime Value (LTV) of a subscriber.
Churn can be split into two different metrics:
- Customer churn: the percentage of users who canceled their subscription. This is the most popular churn metric.
- Revenue churn: the percentage of revenue lost in a specific period of time.
# Conversion Rate
The percentage of visitors that complete a desired goal on your website.
- Users buy a product.
- They subscribe to your newsletter.
- They download your lead magnet – for example a PDF, a video guide, etc. in exchange of their email addresses.
- They book a consultation.
The formula to calculate the conversion rate is simple:
(Total Transactions or Actions / Visits from your Target Market) * 100
The conversion rate can be measured with the total number of users visiting any page on your website. However, to track results more accurately, users can be tracked from specific traffic sources for specific goals on specific pages. For example, some variations of the same landing page may be tested by monitoring the traffic from selected marketing campaigns.
The conversion rate can help understand which layouts and templates are more efficient in converting users (A/B Testing).
# Custom Post Type (CPT)
A Custom Post Type (CPT) is a WordPress post type created via a plugin or a theme. The default posts in WordPress are Pages and Posts. But sometimes you may need something more specific for your unique setup. For example, the WooCommerce plugin adds “Products” as a CPT.
Usually, WordPress developers create new CPTs when regular posts and pages aren’t enough. Just like regular posts, CPTs will appear on the side menu in the wp-admin area.
Some examples of CPTs:
- Project Portfolio objects.
- Case Studies.
- Any kind of custom product that requires specific information and a different layout.
# Custom Taxonomy
WordPress provides two taxonomies by default: Categories and Tags. Custom Taxonomies can be developed to organize your website’s content in a better way.
For example, LearnDash, a popular plugin to create and sell online courses, creates a Courses CPT (and more). It also creates two custom taxonomies for Courses: Categories and Courses Tags.
In this way, the courses taxonomy are managed separately from the regular WordPress tags and categories – which are dedicated to regular blog posts instead.
This functionality allows us to create custom categories or tags for CPTs as needed.
Some real examples of Custom Taxonomies in commercial plugins:
- WooCommerce – Product Categories & Tags
- LearnDash – Courses Categories & Tags
- LearnDash – Lessons Categories & Tags
- Modern Events Calendar – Event Categories
Some hypothetical examples:
- Car Brands for a custom Car CPT
- Categories for a Recipes CPT
- Industry Tags for a Case Study CPT
# Landing Page
Landing pages are often confused with homepages, but they’re two different concepts. A landing page is a template built (usually) with a single goal in mind: selling one product, convincing users to subscribe to a newsletter, or completing another action.
Everything in a landing page is designed to push users towards that goal. Users can only interact with links or buttons that target the desired action. So users shouldn’t have the option to click on internal links or anything else that can distract them from the objective.
Homepages typically present the entire brand and/or a variety of resources about the topic of the website. Landing pages are designed to “sell” a specific product or service.
# LifeTime Value (LTV)
This metric will tell you how much a customer is worth – on average – for your business. It’s an expectation metric, and may not always reflect reality.
There isn’t a unique formula to calculate LTV, however knowing your MMR is essential.
The most common it’s the following:
LTV = Average MRR per user / Churn Rate
Example: Average MRR per user is $100 and the churn rate is 3%
$100 / 0.03% = $3,333 LTV
I personally prefer this formula:
LTV = (Average MRR per user * Average months of active renewals per user) - total costs to deliver your service during the life of their subscriptions
Example: Avg MRR per user is $100 and users stay active for 24 months on average. The total costs to deliver the service is $500.
($100 * 24) - $500 = $1,900 LTV
Short for Monthly Recurring Revenue. The revenue that a paying user generates on a monthly basis. For example, let’s imagine you sell a yearly subscription at $1,000. Then your MRR will be: $1,000 / 12 = $83.33 per user.
MRR is often used also to indicate the total amount of revenue that your business generates each month, from all users.
# Onboarding Process
The original definition of onboarding refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors in order to become effective organizational members.
The same term is also used by subscription-based businesses but is applied to customers instead. Onboarding helps new users get familiar with a product or a service. The main goal is to guide them on how to use a product and get the most value out of it.
A well-structured onboarding process will lower the churn rate and increase user retention.
# Staging Environment
It’s an exact or nearly exact replica of your production environment (the live website, e.g. www.wordpress-406795-1802455.cloudwaysapps.com). The URL of this website may be something like: staging.wordpress-406795-1802455.cloudwaysapps.com – it’s not indexed by search engines and it’s not known or easily available to the users that visit your live website.
This is the environment you or your developer(s) will use to develop new plugins or themes, and to test them before they go live.
# Starter Theme
A theme that includes only essential functionality to display some content with the WordPress default templates. Usually, starter themes don’t include any styles. Without styles (CSS), the website will be displayed almost entirely in black and white, without any spacing, and with a default font.
Theme developers use starters to create full custom themes. It’s also a way to avoid “reinventing the wheel” for the theme’s core files, so developers can start creating the custom theme features and templates right away.
Some starter themes include frameworks, which can help developers create a better-structured website. For example, the JointsWP starter theme includes Foundation – a popular (now discontinued) front-end framework.
One of the most popular starter themes for WordPress is Underscores, also known as “_s”.
Any WordPress theme is composed of a set of templates. A template is a specific layout that you can use for multiple pages. It could be for example a single product template. Or a single event template, in case you use a calendar plugin on your site.
From one template you can create unlimited pages from your wp-admin screen. These pages will have in common the same style and content structure.
An existing template created by a plugin or a theme can be overridden with custom development. Usually, developers override templates either to create a unique structure and design, or to add custom features.
Often, theme and plugins developers add hooks and filters to their templates. Hooks and filters allow developers to add custom functions or extra content in templates, without the need of overriding them.
Overriding a template to add custom functionality when hooks and filters are available is usually considered a bad practice.
Popular examples of templates
- Single Blog Post Template – the typical default template used for WordPress posts.
- Default Page Template.
- WooCommerce – Single Product.
- WooCommerce – Single Product Category.