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A

AJAX

Stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is typically used for creating dynamic web applications and allows for asynchronous data retrieval without having to reload the page a visitor is on. The JavaScript on a given page handles most of the basic functions of the application, making it perform more like a desktop program instead of a web-based one.

ANCHOR TEXT

The text a link uses to refer to your site. This can make a big difference in your site’s search engine results. See also: Backlink.

APPROVAL

Approval, or final approval, is given to a design proof once it's exactly the way you want it. Keep in mind the purpose of the approval is the layout and overall design, not the exact text or photos, which can be easily changed once it's in the content management system (CMS).


B

BACK-END

The back-end of a website is the part hidden from view of regular website visitors. The back end generally includes the information structure, applications, and the CMS controlling content on the site.

BACKLINK

Backlinks are links from other sites back to your own. They’re sometimes also referred to as “trackbacks” (especially on blogs). Backlinks have a huge impact on your sites search rankings. Lots of backlinks from high-ranking sites can greatly improve your search engine results, especially if those links use keywords in their anchor text.

BANDWIDTH

Bandwidth can refer to two different things: the rate at which data can be transferred or the total amount of data allowed to be transferred from a web host during a given month (or other hosting service term) before overage charges are applied. It is generally referred to in term of bits-per-second (bps), kilobits per second (kbs), or other metric measurements. Lower bandwidth internet connections (such as dial-up) mean data loads slower than with high bandwidth connections (like cable or fiber).

BELOW THE FOLD

This term is a carry-over from newspaper publishing days. In newspaper terms, “below the fold” means content was on the bottom half of the page (below the physical fold in the paper). In web design terms, “below the fold” refers to the content that is generally going to be below the point first viewable to the average website visitor in their browser (in other words, viewers would have to scroll down to see the content).

BETA SITE

A beta site, or a testing/staging site, is the final testing platform for a site before it goes live. The site will have the full back-end system and content management tied into it and generally the final content tweaks are made here so when the site is pushed live it's 100% complete.

BOUNCE RATE

A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages. This can be a good indicator of how good a website’s navigation is, as well as an indicator of the quality of the site’s content (a very high bounce rate doesn’t bode well for either of those things).

BREADCRUMB

Breadcrumbs are the bit of navigation elements that generally appear near the top of a give web page that show you the pages and subpages the appear before the page you’re on. For examples, on a blog, the breadcrumbs might look something like: Home > Category > Year > Month > Post (or they might be a lot simpler that that). The breadcrumbs term comes from the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”

BROWSER

Browser refers to the program a website visitor is using to view the web site. Examples include Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer.


C

CACHE/CACHING

Cached files are those that are saved or copied (downloaded) by a web browser so that the next time that user visits the site, the page loads faster.

CSS (CASCADING STYLE SHEETS)

Also referred to simply as CSS, Cascading Style Sheets are used to define the look and feel of a web site outside of the actual HTML file(s) of the site. In recent years, CSS has replaced tables and other HTML-based methods for formatting and laying out websites. The benefits to using CSS are many, but some of the most important are the simplification of a site’s HTML files (which can actually increase search engine rankings) and the ability to completely change the style of a site by changing just one file, without having to make changes to content.

CMS (CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM)

Also known as a CMS, the Content Management System is a backend tool for managing a site’s content that separates said content from the design and functionality of the site. Using a CMS generally makes it easier to change the design or function of a site independent of the site’s content. It also (usually) makes it easier for content to be added to the site for people who aren’t designers.


D

DEPRECATED

Deprecated code is code that is no longer included in the language specifications. Generally this happens because it is replaced with more accessible or efficient alternatives.

DNS

Stands for Domain Name Service (alternately Domain Name System or Domain Name Server). Basically, it’s the thing that converts IP addresses into domain names. DNS servers are provided with the IP address of your web server when you assign your domain name to those servers. In turn, when someone types your domain name into their web browser, those DNS servers translate the domain name to the IP address and point the browser to the correct web server.

DOMAIN

The domain is the name by which a website is identified. The domain is associated with an IP address. Domains can be purchased with any combination of letters, hyphens (-), and numbers (though it can’t start with a hyphen). Depending on the extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.), a domain can be anywhere up to 26 to 63 characters long.


E

ECOMMERCE

Short for electronic commerce. It’s the buying and selling of goods online, through websites. Products sold through e-commerce can be physical products that require shipping, or digital products delivered electronically.


F

FAVICON

Favicons are tiny (generally 16×16 pixels, though some are 32×32 pixels), customizable icons displayed in the web address bar in most browsers next to the web address. They’re either 8-bit or 24-bit in color depth and are saved in either .ico, .gif or .png file formats.

FIXED WIDTH LAYUT

A fixed width layout has a set width (generally defined in pixels) set by the designer. The width stays the same regardless of screen resolution, monitor size, or browser window size. It allows for minute adjustments to be made to a design that will stay consistent across browsers. Designers have more control over exactly how a site will appear across platforms with this type of layout.

FOCAL POINT

The focal point of a web site is the spot on a web page that they eye is naturally drawn to. This could be an image, a banner, text, Flash content, or just about anything else. You want to make sure that whatever is acting as your focal point is the most important part of your site.

FOLD

The fold is a term carried over from newspaper design and pagination (where the fold referred to the physical fold in the paper). The fold in a website is the point on the webpage that rests at the bottom of someone’s browser (in other words, to see anything below the fold, they would have to scroll down). There are varying opinions on how important the fold is in web design.

FONT FAMILY

Font family is a group designation for defining the typefaces used in CSS documents. The font family tag generally lists multiple fonts to be used, and usually ends with the generic font category (such as “serif” or “sans-serif’).

FONT WEIGHT

The font weight refers to how thick or thin (bold or light) a font looks.

FRONT-END

The front-end is basically the opposite of the back-end. It’s all the components of a website that a visitor to the site can see (pages, images, content, etc.) Specifically, it’s the interface that visitors use to access the site’s content. It’s also sometimes referred to as the User Interface.


G

GUI (GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE)

Also referred to by its acronym: GUI. A graphical user interface uses an input device (like the mouse) and visual representations of how the user is able to interact with a web application. In other words, it’s all the front-end stuff you see on a web application. It’s purpose is to allow you to interact with a web application without having to enter code.


H

.HTACCESS

The .htaccess file is the default directory-level configuration file on Apache servers. They are also known as “distributed configuration files.” Configuration directives contained in the .htaccess file apply to the directory in which the file is placed as well as all of its subdirectories. Within the .htaccess file things like authorization and authentication, rewriting of URLs, cache control and customized error responses can all be specified.

HTML

Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the primary language used to write web pages. HTML is primarily intended as a way to provide content on websites (with CSS handling the layout and stylistic options), though it can also be used to determine how that content is displayed.

HTTPS

Similar to HTTP, HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol over SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or, alternately, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Like HTTP, it’s a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between browsers and servers, but this time it’s done over a secure, encrypted connection.

HYPERLINK

A hyperlink is a link from one web page to another, either on the same site or another one. Generally these are text or images, and are highlighted in some way (text is often underlined or put in a different color or font weight). The inclusion of hyperlinks are the “hyper” part of “hypertext.”

HYPERTEXT

Hypertext is any computer-based text that includes hyperlinks. Hypertext can also include presentation devices like tables or images, in addition to plain text and links.


I

IFRAME

Short for Inline Frame. An iframe is used to display one or more web pages within another normal web page (one that isn’t a frameset page).

INLINE STYLE

Elements with CSS written directly around the element it affects, instead of in a separate style sheet or header style.


L

LAMP

Stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or sometimes Perl or Python), and is referring to the specifications of a web server (defining the operating system, web server, database, and scripting language, in that order). One of the advantages of LAMP setups is that the software used is all free and open source.

LANDING PAGE

A landing page is the page where a visitor first enters a website. Oftentimes, a special landing page is created to elicit a specific action from the new visitor (usually in connection with an advertising or marketing campaign).


M

META DATA

Meta data is the data contained in the header that offers information about the web page that a visitor is currently on. The information contained in the meta data isn’t viewable on the web page (except in the source code). Meta data is contained within meta tags.

META TAG

A meta tag is an HTML tag used to include meta data within the header of your web page.


N

NAVIGATION

Navigation refers to the system that allows visitors to a website to move around that site. Navigation is most often thought of in terms of menus, but links within pages, breadcrumbs, related links, pagination, and any other links that allow a visitor to move from one page to another are included in navigation.


P

PAGEVIEW

A pageview is a request for an entire web page document from a server by a visitor’s browser. In other words, for each page view your site had, someone (or a search engine spider) looked at that page.

PERMALINK

Short for “permanent link.” Generally used only on blogs, a permalink is a link that is the permanent web address of a given blog post. Since most blogs have constantly-changing content, the permalink offers a way for readers to bookmark or link to specific posts even after those posts have moved off the home page or primary category page.

PHOTOSHOP

Photoshop is a program used by designers to create custom graphics, manipulate photos and layout websites. All of our sites are designed from scratch using Photoshop.

PLUG-IN

A plug-in is a bit of third party code that extends the capabilities of a website. It’s most often used in conjunction with a CMS or blogging platform. Plug-ins are a way to extend the functionality of a website without having to redo the core coding of the site. Plugins can also refer to bits of third-party software installed within a computer program to increase its functionality.


R

RSS

Also referred to as really simple syndication. RSS is a standardized XML format that allows content to be syndicated from one site to another. It’s most commonly used on blogs. RSS also allows visitors to subscribe to a blog or other site and receive updates via a feed reader.

RESPONSIVE

A responsive website has a layout that resizes and readjusts based on the size of the screen it's being viewed on. This means whether someone is viewing your site on a mobile device or a 30" screen they're getting the same experience, and your website is being server up perfectly to them.

RESOLUTION

Refers to the physical number of pixels displayed on a screen (such as 1280×1024). Unlike in print, display resolution does not refer to the number of pixels or dots per inch on a computer screen, as this can be changed by changing the resolution of the screen (which, of course, does not change the physical size of the screen). The resolution of an image, however, is often referred to in terms of pixels per inch, though this has very little effect on how the image is displayed on screen.


S

SCRIPT

Generally refers to a portion of code on an HTML page that makes the page more dynamic and interactive. Scripts can be written in a variety of languages, including JavaScript.

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results.

SITE MAP

A site map is a list of all the pages on a website organized in hierarchical fashion. It also includes the relationship between those pages and any back-end functionality.


T

TAG

A tag is a set of markup characters that are used around an element to indicate its start and end. Tags can also include HTML or other code to specify how that element should look or behave on the page. These include "alt" tags that are added to photos to enhance SEO.

TEMPLATE

A template is a file used to create a consistent design across a website. Templates are often used in conjunction with a CMS and contain both structural information about how a site should be set up, but also stylistic information about how the site should look.


U

URL

Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A site’s URL is its address, the item that specifies where on the Internet it can the found.

USABILITY

Usability refers to how easy it is for a visitor to your site to use your site in its intended manner. In other words, are navigation, content, images, and any interactive elements easy to use, functioning the way they were intended, and that your intended target visitor will not need any special training in order to use your site.


W

WEB STANDARDS

Standards are specifications recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium for standardizing website design. The main purpose of web standards is to make it easier for both designers and those who create web browsers to make sites that will appear consistent across platforms.


* Source: Smashing Magazine
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