Web Design Terminology & Jargon

Web Design Sunshine Coast
Web design terminology and jargon can sometimes be confusing. We’d like to help by translating internet jargon into layman’s terms.

Anchor

A means of associating one object with another. If you click on hypertext on a web page that links you to another place. That hypertext is ‘anchored’ to the link.

Blog or Web Log

A blog (short for “web log”) is a type of web page that acts as a public diary or journal. They tend to be more informal than other web pages, and often updated with personal reflections on a topic. The accuracy of the content in blogs varies widely.

Browser Address Bar

The browser address bar is the section in your browser (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari) where you can see http:// followed by the website URL. It is located almost at the very top of the browser window. It is NOT the google search bar where you might type in some keywords to find a website. For example, if I asked you to go to “http://www.undesign.com.au/contact.php” you would type it in your browser address bar. This is very important to understand especially if your web developer is asking you to go to a URL that google does not know about yet (eg. a temporary or staging area for your web page).

Browser Cache

A cache is a storage area on your computer of past content that you have viewed on your browser. When you view a web page, all the text and graphics get downloaded to your cache for viewing. If you should view the same page again later, then you don’t have to download the content again as it can be read directly from your ‘cache’. Often it is necessary to ‘refresh’ your cache, so it forces your browser to update the content from the website rather than reading it directly from your computer.

Case Sensitive

When something is case sensitive, it means that Upper Case (Capital letters) and lower case letters are treated differently (ie. ‘A’ is not ‘a’). If something is not case sensitive, it means that all upper case letters are treated as lower case letters (so ‘A’ is the same as ‘a’). This is especially important with the use of passwords, as if the password was case sensitive then ‘PassWord’ would not be the same as ‘password’.

CGI

“Common Gateway Interface,” the most common method that internet programs interact dynamically with users. The function of taking information typed in on a web page and sending it off to another program in Java,Javascript, or Perl or another programming language, and then display result using HTML.

Content Management System (CMS)

Is a program or suite of programs to allow the easy update of web pages with little technical knowledge at all. No HTML coding is generally required. Web sites have to be set up to allow CMS updates.

Cookie

Information returned from a web server computer, and then stored by your browser on your computer. Cookies are used to store customized information about a website so that web pages are more personal to your interests.

CSS

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet, a programming language used to control how information is presented on a web page. For example, a CSS file can be set to control the colour, size and font used to display text on a web page. A CSS file enables repetitive code to be separated from the structure of a web page to enable the page to load faster and for formatting of styles to be made at one central location. CSS files also allow for greater flexibility when presenting information on different devices: for example CSS can display a webpage differently on screen (in different browsers and platforms), when printed, and on mobile devices.

Database

A collection of information stored in one central location, that has the ability externally to have information in it queried, inserted, updated, and deleted. Often, this is the source from which data is retrieved from to display products or information dynamically on a website. A database management system (DBMS) is required to access information from a database.

Domain Name

These are human friendly ways of linking an easily to remember text name to a harder to remember numeric IP address. The Domain Name / IP address combinations are stored in huge directories on domain name servers. Using the IP address pointed to by a domain name you can then find a computer on the internet or network. An example of an IP address converted into text is newwebdesign.com.au

Domain Registration

The process of registering a domain name. A domain name registrar manages domain names.

Download

To copy something from a central location such as a web server to a peripheral location such as your computers hard drive. Copying data from your computer to a central location (or server) is known as Uploading.

Dynamic website

As compared to a static website, dynamic websites use more complex code to perform various functionality on a site. Dynamic websites often present information drawn from a database, so information can be kept current by simply updating the information on the database, rather than updating the webpage itself. Dynamic websites can be connected to an online interface, providing the website owner the ability to update information themselves without the need of a website developer.

eCommerce

Electronic commerce. Also known as eCommerce or e-business. E-commerce refers to conducting business online. It commonly refers to displaying products or services online, and allowing visitors to purchase those products or services in a safe manner—usually through a payment gateway.

Email marketing

Marketing to clients and prospective clients through email.

Email newsletter

Sending a newsletter to a subscribed group with HTML email. Software can be used to gather subscriptions, personalise, send and monitor the success of an email marketing campaign. Various rules are in place to ensure emails are not defined as spam—unwanted email messages.

Extension (File Extension)

In Windows, DOS and some other operating systems, one or several letters at the end of a filename. Filename extensions usually follow a period (dot) and indicate the type of file.Eg. filename.txt denotes a plain text file.filename.htm or filename.html denotes an HTML file.Some common image extensions are filename.jpg or filename.bmp or filename.gif

Favourite / Bookmark

A term used with browsers such as Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. It is an easy way of storing a link back to a URL you would like to return to.

Flash

A technology from Macromedia (now Adobe Systems) that allows animation or moving graphics on a web page. In order to view flash content your browser requires a Plug-In.

Forum

A forum (aka Internet Forum, Message Board or Newsgroup) is a discussion board on the Internet. Participants of a forum discuss common interests by posting a message to the group, and the message is then displayed on the forum. Messages are grouped under topics, with each new conversation called a thread. While most forums are open to the general public to use, some forums require members to login to access or post to the forum. Some forums are set up so that a posted message might need to be approved by a moderator before it becomes visible.

Frames

A way that web pages can be divided into sections, each section is treated like a separate window and has its own scrolling.

FTP

File Transfer Protocol. A way to quickly transfer files across a network from one location to another.

GIF

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a common file format for image files, often used on the web. GIFs can be static or animated. Animated GIFs are often used as banner ads. Like JPG image files, GIF images are compressed to reduce the file size. GIF file format is best used for images few distinct colors (with areas that are all exactly the same color) such as logos.

Go-live

The point at which a website or application becomes published on the Internet and is available to the public. (See web design methodology).Head or Header (of an HTML document)Part of a webpage defined by HTML beginning withand ending withcontaining the Title, Description, Keywords fields.

Home Page

The front page of your website. This is the page that viewers usually see first.

Host, Hosting

A Computer that delivers files and web pages to browsers or other computer clients. Websites are located on a host (computer) directly connected to the Internet.

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language. A standardised computer code to describe the formatting of information for display. It is imbedded in all “source” web documents, and contains the textual content, images, and links to other documents (and possibly audio & video).

HyperText

On the World Wide Web, the feature, built into HTML, that allows a text area, image, or other object to become a “link” to another document on the computer or network.

HTTP

HyperText Transfer Protocol. A programming language used by the web to share and display information on web pages.

Hyperlink

A device that when clicked on links to another place on a web page or to another web page.

Inbound links

Inbound links means hyperlinks from other websites that are linking to your website.

Internet

A huge network of computers that all use the TCP/IP protocol and that originated from the ARPANET project of the late 60’s and early 70’s. An “internet” (lower case i) is any computers connected to each other (a network), and are not part of the Internet unless they use TCP/IP protocols.

Intranet

An “intranet” is a private network within a company or organization. An intranet may or may not connect to the Internet.

IP Address or IP Number

(Internet Protocol number or address). A unique number consisting of four parts separated by dots, e.g. 192.168.0.1 Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP address.

ISP or Internet Service Provider

A company that sells a service that allows you to connect to the Internet via DSL, cable, modem, or satellite. Most offer you an email address, and can also offer you the ability to create a personal web page.

Java

A programming language invented by Sun Microsystems that was designed to be platform independent (run on many different types of computers) and to provide greater functionality in web pages. Small Java programs are known as “Applets”.

Javascript

A simple programming language developed by Netscape to work with HTML and increase the interactivity in Web pages.

JPG

JPG or JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a common file format for image files, often used on the web. JPG files compress the file size of an image through a ‘lossy’ process, where some details are discarded. JPG files are best used for photographs and other artwork.

Keyword(s) and Keyphrases

A word searched for in a search engine. Multiple keywords separated by spaces form a key phrase (or search phrase) when typed into a search engine.

Link

The URL imbedded in another document, so that if you click on the highlighted text or button referring to the link, you retrieve the outside URL.

Link 'Rot'

Is a term describing the aging of links. When links are not kept up to date and are not constantly refreshed, they can become out of date. The objects that the links point to may not be at the same locations anymore resulting in ‘missing page’ or ‘link unavailable’ errors.

Merchant Account

A bank account that allows for the receipt of credit card funds.

Meta tag

Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header on a web page. The code provides information to web browsers and search engines about the content of the web page. Despite popular belief, meta tags (such as the meta description tag and meta keyword tag) do not provide a guaranteed way to gain a top ranking on search engines. However they do provide a useful way to control how some search engines describe web pages.

Navigation

The means by which a user can click from page to page on a website.

Newsgroup

A discussion group operated through the Internet.

Not in spec

You may find a web developer telling you a request is ‘not in spec’. In other words as part of the initial agreement on the project and costs, a newly requested function may cost extra as it was not originally specified.

Outbound links

Outbound links are hyperlinks from your website, that link to other websites.

Packet

A means of breaking a network communication down into smaller units so that they can be more efficiently routed from the source computer to the destination computer over the network. When they reach the destination computer, the packets are then reassembled to form the original transmission.

Page Rank / Ranking

Your website is ranked by search engines according to the reputation your website has. It takes time to acquire a solid page rank. The theory is, the more page rank or ranking your website has, the higher your website will appear in search engine results for relevant key phrases or key words.

Payment Gateway

A means to allow the secure transfer of credit card funds from users on your website to your merchant account.

PDF (.pdf) file

Abbreviation for Portable Document Format, a file format developed by Adobe Systems, that is used to capture almost any kind of document with the formatting in the original. Viewing a PDF file requires Acrobat Reader.

Plug-In

An application built into a browser or added to a browser to enable it to interact with a special file type (such as a movie, sound file, Word document, etc.)

Reporting and analytics

Refers to the presentation of data compiled on a website’s traffic. For example how many times a webpage was opened, how the webpage was found, how long a visitor stayed on the webpage, and where the visitor’s were from. The analysis can be useful for increasing a site’s traffic, or calculate the effectiveness of SEM and email marketing.

Resolution

A term used to measure the quality of an image. Generally speaking, the higher the resolution, the higher the quality. The standard resolution for printing is 300dpi (pots per inch). The standard resolution for images used on the web is 72ppi (pixels per inch).

RSS

Most commonly expanded as Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated information—such as news articles, blog entries, audio, and video—in a standardized format. RSS feeds benefit people who want timely updates from their favourite sites; or compile information from many sites in one location. RSS feeds can be read and compiled through software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader”, or “aggregator”.

Script

A script is a type of programming language that can be used to retrieve and display information on web pages. Scripts can be used to communicate with databases, process Forms (boxes) and other web page interaction.

Search Engine

A web search engine is a programme that searches the World Wide Web for information or keywords. The information is presented as a list of results. A search engine has an algorithm (or set of rules) that determines the order, or ranking, of the results according to the relevance of the information being sort. Examples of search engines include Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

SEM

Search Engine Marketing, is a form of internet marketing that aims to increase the exposure of a website in search engine results. It includes using paid listings, SEO and contextual advertising to increase traffic to the website.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing the traffic to a website by increasing it’s position on search engine results. The higher (or earlier) that a website ranks in the results for a search equates to the higher the volume of visitors to the website. It is generally accepted that most people using a search engine will not go beyond the first or second page of results. SEO helps to ensure that a website is accessible by a search engine, and is ‘optimised’ to increase its chances of a high ranking in a search result. They number of keywords used in the website, the structure of the HTML and the quality of other websites that link to a website all play a part in SEO.

SERP

Search Engine Results Page. The results page you get after you make a query using a search engine (such as google, yahoo, etc).

Server, Web Server

A computer on the Internet and having an IP address, that it can provide documents and files via the World Wide Web. They are also known as a ‘Host’. Many websites operating from one web server is called shared hosting. A single website on a single web server is called dedicated hosting.

Server-Side

Something that operates on the “server” computer (supplying the web page), in contrast to the “client” computer (receives and views the web page). Usually it is something that supplies dynamic content.

Site or Website

A collection of related web pages hosted on a web server.

Site Map

A site map can refer to a page on your website that includes hyperlinks to ALL of your web pages, or it can refer to the sitemap one would send to google (or other search engine) that lets the search engine know of each page you have (sometimes referred to as an xml sitemmap).

SMM

Social Media Marketing (SMM) is a form of SEM. SMM is a type of marketing that involves using social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) to increase awareness of a product, brand or event, or influence opinion on a company and it’s products and services.

SMO

Social Media Optimization (SMO). See SMM.

Social Media

Social Media is a term to describe web-based platforms and applications that facilitate online social interaction. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Del.icio.us, Digg, and blogs.

Spider

Computer robot programs, referred to sometimes as “crawlers” or “Bots” that are used by search engines to search the World Wide Web. They are also used by spammers to harvest email addresses from web pages to add to spam lists.

SSI commands

SSI stands for “server-side include,” a type of HTML instruction telling a computer that serves Web pages to dynamically generate data, usually by inserting certain variable contents into a fixed template or boilerplate Web page. Used especially in database searches.

SSL

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology used to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. An SSL certificate is required by a website conducting e-commerce or when a website user is required to submit confidential information (such as credit card details). TLS (Transport Layer Security) is an updated version of SSL.

Static Website

A usually small website based only on HTML. Each page is a separate document and the information presented is not drawn from a database. Because static sites are often faster to develop, they are advantageous for small businesses looking to create a web presence. However the risk is the content can become stagnant if not regularly updated and it cannot perform many of today’s functions you see on websites such as user memberships

TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)

This is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet.

Telnet

Internet service allowing one computer to remotely log onto another computer.

Usability

A set of properties that makes something easy to use.

URL

Uniform Resource Locator. Is an address to find a certain document on a certain computer on a network. Consists of five parts: File Type, domain Name, Folder(s), file name, File Extension.Eg. http://www.newwebdesign.com.au/contact/map.jpgFile Type: ‘http://’ Domain Name: ‘www.newwebdesign.com.auFolder(s): ‘contact’ File Name: ‘map’File Extension: ‘.jpg’

UseNet

Is a network of tens of thousands bulletin board like forums known as “newsgroups.”

Web Browser

An application that makes it easy to view websites on the world wide web. Common browsers include Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Chrome.

WWW

World Wide Web (aka. the Web). The web uses a programming language called HTTP to share information across the internet in the form of web pages.

WYSIWYG

Short for What You See Is What You Get. Pronounced WIZ-zee-wig. A WYSIWYG is a user interface that enables a user to see on the screen how the final document/page will look (when published) while it is being created.

XHTML

A variant of HTML. It stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language which is a hybrid between HTML and XML that is more universally acceptable in web pages and search engines than XML.
Contact us if you have a term you’d like explained – we will happily add the explanation to this list!