Web Development Terminology -
or How to Know What Your Design Team is Talking About
Author: Sherry Holub
Hosting and Domain: Most people do know about web hosting
and domain names are these days, but every now and then some confusion
might arise as to whether they are independent or one in the same. Basically,
your web hosting is the space you "rent" on the internet to
place your website. Your domain name, also called your URL is www.your_website.com.
Some hosting companies will offer the purchase of your domain name at
the same time you purchase your hosting account. Often times however,
you purchase a domain name separately from a company such as Register.com
FTP or Login Info: When you are asked for this information,
this refers to the host name, user name, and password needed to access
your hosting account. This will come from your hosting company when you
Site Map: A site map is exactly what it sounds like
- a flow chart or outline of all the pages on your website. This is created
to help organize the way your website is put together.
Menu or Navigation: Often times before creating a concept
(see below) for your site, a designer will ask you what Menu items or
Navigation you would like. These are simply the "buttons" within
your page design that help a visitor get around to the other pages. For
instance: About Us, Our Services, Our Products, and Contact Us could all
be menu items.
"Mock Up" or Concept: When designers mention
these terms they are talking about the initial or concept designs for
your project. In the case of a website, the concept will most likely be
delivered to you via the web and be an example of how your site will look.
These concepts are created and revised to achieve the final look of your
website. Also note that designers often use "dummy text" (see
below) if you have not already provided "content" (see below).
Royalty Free or Stock Photography: Royalty Free and
Stock Photography refers to photos and graphic images that you or your
designer purchases to use within your design or on your website pages.
These images can vary greatly in price, depending on the company they
are purchased from. A good designer will have their own selection of images
that were already purchased for you to choose from. Even so, sometimes
the "perfect" image(s) can not be found so you must turn to
Screen Resolution: The resolution for images and graphics
for the web is 72 dpi (dots per inch). If you supply images to your designer,
they should be of this resolution or higher. If you expect to do any printing
(say, you want a brochure made to match the look of your website), your
images will have to be in print resolution or 300 dpi.
Vector Graphic: Designers will sometimes ask if you
have your logo as a vector graphic. Vector graphics are shapes, lines,
text, even illustrations which have been created in Adobe Illustrator
or Macromedia Freehand. What makes a vector graphic different from a regular
graphic is it's ability to be resized (especially larger) without distortion
or loss of quality.
"Dummy" or Filler text: Designers (both web
and graphic) often use nonsense text in place of your real page text when
first creating your site. Do not be alarmed! This is just to show you
the areas where text will be placed. Once you provide your actual text,
the designer will place that in those spaces.
Content: Content refers to any text or special images
which will go on your website that you will need to provide to your designer.
Meta or "Head" Tags and Keywords: The meta
(often called the head tags and keywords) of your page are special code
to help search engines find your page. If your designer ask you for these
you should provide the following: a description of your company/site (this
can be several sentences that include your company name and a few keywords
about what you do); page titles (what you would like each page of your
website to be titled - this shows up in the browser window); keywords
(these are single words and short phrases that you believe your visitors
might type in a search engine in order to find your website).
CSS or Stylesheet: CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet.
It is a system of coding that helps control things like the font on your
page, link colors, page layout and many more.
Static HTML or Static Page: Most websites are created
with the language of HTML. Often times, a designer will call something
"static" to denote that it is 1) not Flash (see below), or 2)
not dynamically generated from a database. This is simply a "regular"
Flash: Flash is the software from Macromedia that designers
use to create motion and animation on your website. This can be in the
form of a presentation, moving graphics, or even a game. The applications
for Flash have grown along with high speed internet connections such as
DSL and Cable.
"Splash" Page: This is usually referred to
as a page that loads up before the main pages of your site. It can be
your logo, or a Flash animation. Most designers are trying to steer their
clients away from such a page as the attention span of the average internet
user is quite short these days!
Blog: Blog is short for Web Log and has fast become
a very popular feature on many websites. Basically, a blog is a way for
you to keep your site content fresh by posting articles and other information
on your site.
Online Marketing: A designer might mention Online Marketing
to you as something to consider to help promote your site. This can include:
affiliate programs, search engine optimization (see below), banner advertising,
placing your website link in directories on the web, email advertising,
newsletters, and online press releases.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Although most designers
do not perform this type of Optimization, they might mention it if you
show an interest in ranking better in the search engines. SEO is the process
of manipulating your page content and Meta tags in order to achieve better
mySQL or msSQL/SQL and Databases: Unless you have custom
programming or an e-commerce shopping cart on your website, your designer
most likely would not mention these things. Nevertheless, sometimes they
do come up if some of these things might be happening at a later stage.
mySQL is the type of database that you would need to have set up if you
are hosting your website on a UNIX server whereas msSQL is the type that
is set up if your are hosted on a Microsoft Windows server.
About the author: Sherry is the Creative Director and Senior Designer
at California studio, JV Media Design (http://www.jvmediadesign.com).