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Making sense of Web Terminology

Posted by Amit Chail on July 28, 2015
Making sense of Web Terminology

The web design industry is filled with an immense amount of jargon. There is an acronym for almost everything. Confusion starts to set in when students start to learn web design or a client is trying to understand what is needed in their project.

We decided to define a list of some common web design terms and jargon to hopefully make web design make a bit more sense. This list is for clients who are looking to hire a web designer, students learning web design and web designers who have been in the industry for a few years.

Stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is the art of exchanging data with a server, and updating parts of a web page - without reloading the whole page.
Absolute Link
A hyperlink containing a full URL, which includes all the information needed to find a particular site, page or document or other addressable item on the Internet. (example. href=’’).
How accessible is your website to users with disabilities? Disabilities including visually impaired visitors using screen readers, hearing impaired visitors using no sound, colour blind people, or those with other disabilities. A website with low accessibility is basically going to be impossible for those with disabilities to use.

Accessibility Image showing a keyboard and wheelchair

Alt Attribute
Used in HTML and XHTML documents to specify alternative text (alt text) that is to be rendered when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered. It is also used by "screen readers" to describe the element to a person who is listening to the content of a webpage.
Back End
Usually consists of three parts: a server, an application, and a database. This is usually the part of the website that the user would not see.
Also known as inbound links, inlinks, and inward links. Backlinks are incoming links to a website or web page. Basically, backlinks are links from other sites back to your own.
Below the Fold
The part of a web page that can't be seen without scrolling down.
Bounce Rate
The percentage of people who leave a site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages.
Content Management System
Also known as a CMS, the Content Management System is a backend tool for managing a site’s content that separates the content from the design and functionality of the site.
Stands for Cascading Style Sheets. Cascading Style Sheets are used to define the look and feel of a website outside of the actual HTML file(s) of the site.

Image showing CSS heading

CSS Framework
A CSS framework is a collection of CSS files used as the starting point to make XHTML and CSS websites quickly and painlessly. They usually contain CSS styles for typography and layout.
Refers to scripts that are run in a viewer’s browser, instead of on a web server (as in server-side scripts). Client-side scripts are generally faster to interact with, though they can take longer to load initially. For example, on the World Wide Web, JavaScript scripts are client-side because they are executed by your browser (the client).
The data in a MySQL database are stored in tables. A table is a collection of related data, and it consists of columns and rows. Databases are useful for storing information categorically.
Code that is no longer included in the language specifications. Generally this happens because it is replaced with more accessible or efficient alternatives.
Doctype Declaration
Specifies which version of HTML is used in a document. It has a direct effect on whether your HTML will validate. The current version of HTML is HTML5.

Image showing the Doctype of an HTML Document

The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to transfer computer files from one host to another host
Tiny 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 colour depth and are saved in either .ico, .gif or .png file formats.
Front End
The part of the web that you can see and interact with. The front end usually consists of two parts: the web design and front end web development.
Graceful Degradation
Refers to a website’s ability to have elements that may take advantage of the capabilities of newer browsers done in a way that allows users with older browsers to still view the site in a manner that at least allows access to basic content. It also applies to making sure that if one small portion of your site doesn’t work in someone’s browser, it doesn’t break your entire site for them.
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.

Image showing HTML at the beginning of a website document

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
Inbound Link
Refer to Backlink.
Inheritance is the process by which properties are passed from parent to child elements even though those properties have not been explicitly defined by other means.  Inheritance is associated with how the elements in the HTML markup inherit properties from their parent (containing) elements and pass them on to their children
Internal Link
Refers to a link within the same document. Often used to link to a section within the same page. This method has become popular with single page websites.
A word or phrase typed into a search engine query in order to locate websites that have similar content.

Image showing site keywords

Keyword Density
A measure of how frequently a specific keyword is used within a web page’s content. If “internet” is repeated 5 times within the 100 words on the web page, it has 5% keyword density.
Landing Page
The page where a visitor first enters a website.
Refers to the code applied to a text document to change it into an HTML, XML, or other Markup Language document.
Meta Tag
An HTML tag used to include meta data within the header of your web page.
Meta Data
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).
Open Source
Refers to the source code of a computer program being made available to the general public. Open source software includes both web-based and desktop applications.
Outbound Link
Links which are going to an external website from your website.
A server scripting language, and a powerful tool for making dynamic and interactive web pages.
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.
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.
Progressive Enhancement
A strategy for web design that uses web technologies in a layered fashion that allows everyone to access the basic content and functionality of a web page, using any browser or internet connection, while also providing those with better bandwidth or more advanced browser software an enhanced version of the page.
An element used to add a special effect to certain selectors like a link.
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.

Image showing the RSS Logo

Relative Link
A relative link specifies the name of the file to be linked to only as it is related to the current document. (example. href=’/images/logo.jpg’)
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).
Search Engine Optimization is the technique used to achieve higher ranking in search engine results, by enhancing the content and structure of the pages, incorporating meta tags, and proactively submitting pages to search engines.
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.
Semantic Markup
Content that is written within XHTML tags that offer context to what the content contains.
Refers to scripts that run on a web server, as opposed to in a user’s browser. Server-side scripts often take a bit longer to run than a client-side script, as each page must reload when an action is taken.
Automated software robots sometimes referred to as “crawlers” that continuously roam the internet to collect data for indexing.

Image showing a spider on a computer desktop

Formatting codes used in HTML documents that provide instructions needed by web browsers to display web pages correctly
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.
How easy it is for a visitor to your site to use your site in its intended manner.
An acronym for “What You See Is What You Get,” which describes a page editing program which allows the user to create or modify web pages without the knowledge of HTML or other coding languages.
Web Server
A computer that hosts a website, allowing the web pages to be sent to a user’s web browser.
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.

Do you feel that we missed any important definitions? Tell us in the comments below!


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