The orb web is a multipurpose structure---serving as a home for its inhabitant spider, as a prey capture device, and as a physical extension of the spider’s sensing abilities. Biologists are particularly interested in the spider’s ability to locate prey trapped in its web by sensing the vibrations induced from the initial impact and subsequent struggles of an insect. The presented work focuses on the web as a dynamic structure to better understand its role as a sensing tool for the spider by 1) studying vibrations of synthetic, bio-mimetic orb webs in a controlled engineering environment, 2) creating a computational model for orb web vibrations that includes the effects of web geometry, tension, and material composition, 3) proposing a vibration localization framework suitable for synthetic webs, and 4) combining optical flow measurements from high speed video of webs under motion with experimental modal analysis techniques to study vibration in webs of Araneus diadematus. The vibration model is successfully validated against a set of synthetic webs and used to identify cues useful for vibration localization. The performance of these vibration cues is tested on synthetic webs, and several factors influencing the success rate of the proposed vibration localization framework is presented. Novel motion data of orb webs obtained using phase-based optical flow from high speed video is used to characterize the impulse response of webs built by A. diadematus, and the strengths of optical flow for non-contact motion measurement versus standard tools such as the Laser Doppler Vibrometer (LDV) is discussed.