Web Design Terms You Should Know Before Building A Website

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As a full-time developer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really awesome clients but sometimes communication can get a little foggy due to the number of technical terms that developers, strategists, and project managers tend to throw around during meetings and phone calls.

In an effort to help bridge the communication gap, we’ve put together a fairly extensive list of terms you might across when having your site built.

This article assumes you already have a general understanding of the web and how websites and apps work. Bookmark and refer back to this list as often as you need. We’ll kick off part 1 with the least technical terms, so let’s dig in!

Common Web Design Terms

Animation – Otherwise known as web animation, these include any element, text, images and graphics that change property over time. Some changes may be automatic or set to happen after a specific trigger event. Web animation can be done through CSS effects, GIFs, Javascript/jQuery, or Flash. Yes, some people still use Flash.

Blog – The shortened term of web log. Similar to sites run by Content Management Systems, blogs are sites that are updated with content regularly. Some blogs are akin to online diaries, detailing the perspectives and opinions of the blog owner. Blogs can also focus on a specific topic. A majority of blogs are hosted via the WordPress platform.

Browser – This refers to the software used to interact, navigate and view websites on the Internet. Popular web browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera. New to the scene is Vivaldi Browser.

Carousel – The term used to refer to an image slideshow. Some image carousels are displayed with links and text descriptions. Carousels often load automatically when entering a new page. Most website owners use them to direct their visitors’ attention towards important parts of the site. They can also be used for advertising and promotion.

Code – Code is a term used when referring to symbols, words, and letters (as a whole) that are used by various programming languages to either instruct a computer to perform a function or output visual elements on a screen. A few coding languages include PHP, C, Ruby, Java, Objective-C, Javascript, HTML, CSS and the list goes on (in no particular order).

Content Management System – Content Management Systems allow website owners to edit, update and manage their web pages even without coding know-how. Most website owners who want to manage and oversee their websites themselves can use a CMS. Popular CMS applications include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

DNS – DNS stands for Domain Name System. This refers to the process where a website’s URL is translated into an IP address. This process is what allows users to easily access a website, without having to remember its IP address, after they enter the website’s URL into the address bar.

Drop-Down Menu – This is a hidden list of sub-links which become visible only when the mouse pointer is hovered over (or clicked on) a button link, typically represented by an arrow pointing downward. Drop-down menus are handy if your website has a lot of sub-pages for every main (or parent) page. If the website has a lot of pages, drop-down menus can help make it more organized, and since it is hidden, it reduces the clutter in the main page as well.

Embeds – These are third-party code that can be embedded into your web page. These are often used to display images, videos and other elements that are hosted on other sites. For example, using the embed code from YouTube easily allows you to put a video on your webpage. Through embeds, visitors can view the elements directly on the page without needing to leave the website.

Header – The website header is located at the top part of a website and is usually fixed in terms of position and content. Most headers contain the company logo, short descriptive text, contact information and buttons with links to pages within the website.

Hosting – Web hosting is responsible for the storage and sharing of all website content such as files, images, elements, text, video and other information. Web hosting makes it possible for all page elements to load and appear when users open a specific page.

Image Optimization – This is the process by which images are resized, adjusted or cropped so they load faster. Web designers often change the size and resolution of images so that users are able to download them easily, making the website more user-friendly.

jQuery – jQuery is one of the many coding libraries used in building websites. This language is often used in creating animation effects or timing events.

Keywords – These words, and sometimes even phrases, are chosen specifically by people in-charge of the website to improve its ranking in search engines. Targeting keywords effectively can make a website more visible and accessible to its target market.

Links – Links are text used as navigation links to connect and transfer from one page to another. Most websites use links to map out the different areas on their website, either on a side panel or header menu, or within the site copy. Common link titles include: “About”, “Contact Us”, “Home”, “Gallery” and “Services”.

META Data – This is a section of code that is not visible, but is integral to a website’s SEO standing. META data often includes the website’s chosen keywords, as well as the general description of the website. This data is used by Google and other search engines to determine the relevance of a website to its chosen keywords.

Navigation Bar – This bar contains links that connect users to other pages on a website. Typically, navigation bars are placed at the header, on a sidebar, or even at the footer.

Search Engine – An online resource that gathers relevant results according to search terms given by the user. Through search engines, you can search for a specific website, images, videos, blogs and even books. Search results are sorted through an algorithm that focuses on relevance and website integrity. Three of the most popular search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO, for short, refers to methods and techniques used by websites or online marketers to increase their ranking on search engines. By understanding a search engine’s algorithm, companies and private individuals can alter elements in their website such as Meta data, keywords and content to boost site relevance, which in turn, will help boost the website to the top of search results for the site’s chosen keywords.

Splash Page – Splash pages act as gateways to the actual website. While this is not considered the homepage, splash pages can contain a greeting to the site visitor as well as a short description of what the site is about. For sensitive websites, some splash pages contain a confirmation of the user’s age and consent. Splash pages may also give viewing options such as default language, currency, and other variables.

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