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Web Design 101 - Glossary of boutique web design Terms

:Learning about boutique web design

Miss Blossom Design™ work with lots of clients new to web technology, so we have compiled a list of terms we use regularly when developing boutique web design. For some of you it might seem obvious but for the less web savvy of amongst us, the following terms will help you get along with your web design project. If you don't understand any of the descriptions, just ask.

Accessibility: Basically, this is the ability of a website to be used by people with disabilities, including visually impaired visitors using screen readers, hearing impaired visitors using no sound, color blind people, or those with other disabilities.

Affiliate: A person, organization, or establishment that drives traffic to a merchant's web site for a percentage of successful sales transactions.

Backend: 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.

Basecamp: The project management software we use to keep messages, files and concepts in the one place online.

Bookmark: A saved link to a website that has been added to a list of saved links or favorite sites (i.e., “Favorites”) that you can click on directly, rather than having to retype the address when revisiting the site.

Blogger and .Blogspot Refers to the name of Google's blogging software.

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: A program that lets you find, see, and hear material on web pages. Popular browsers include netscape navigator, safari, Microsoft internet Explorer, Firefox, and chrome.

Caching, Cache, 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.

Cookie: A piece of information about your visit to a website that some websites record automatically on your computer. By using a cookie, a website operator can determine a lot of information about you and your computer. cookies are not always bad. For example, a cookie remembers that you prefer aisle seats in the front of the plane. CSS or Cascading Style Sheets

Content Management System (CMS) 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.

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.

Domain name: The part of an internet address to the right of the final dot used to identify the type of organization using the server, such as .gov or .com.

Domain Registration - the process by which your purchase a domain name e.g. "" - not to be confused with hosting.

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.

Download: To copy a file from one computer system to another via the internet (usually your computer or mobile device).

E-Commerce - 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.

Electronic mail (e-mail): An electronic mail message sent from one computer or mobile device  to another computer or mobile device.

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.

File Sharing: This software enables multiple users to access the same computer file simultaneously. File sharing sometimes is used illegally to download music or software.

Firewall: A security system usually made up of hardware and software used to block hackers, viruses, and other malicious threats to your computer.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) A protocol used for uploading or downloading files over the Internet. Webmasters often use FTP to upload web pages to their web hosting server.

Flash - A type of file that includes sound and animation. Not compatible with search engines or ipads/iphones. Search engines cannot read it. Not recommended for entire sites. OK for a few select elements. Makes updating sites costly and time consuming. Much of flash work bcan be done with Javascript and animated gifs.

The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF; /ˈɪf/ or /ˈɡɪf/) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.

Hardware: A term for the actual computer equipment and related machines or computer parts.

History: A tracking feature of Internet browsers that shows all the recent websites visited.

Hexidecimal Colour - Also referred to a “hex” numbers, they are a base-16 numbering system used to define colors online. Hex numbers include the numerals 0-9 and letters A-F. Hexadecimal numbers are written in three sets of hex pairs. Because screen colors are RGB (Red, Green, Blue), the first pair defines the red hue, the second pair defines the green hue, and the third pair defines the blue.

Homepage: The site that is the starting point on the web for a particular group or organization.

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.

HTTP - Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between a web browser and a web server.

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.”

Internet (net): A giant collection of computer networks that connects people and information all over the world.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): A generic term for any company that can connect you directly to the Internet. 

Jpeg (Joint Partner experts group or Joint Photographic experts group): A popular file format for graphic images on the Internet.

Malware: stands for malicious software or code, which includes any harmful code—trojans, worms, spyware, adware, etc.—that is designed to damage the computer or collect information.

Merchant Account Provider A bank or other institution that provides accounts to merchants wishing to process online credit card transactions.

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.

Mobile web: The World Wide Web as accessed from mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and other portable gadgets connected to a public network. Access does not require a desktop computer.

Modem: A device installed in your computer or an external piece of hardware that connects your computer to the Internet through a phone or cable line and allows communication between computers.

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.

Netiquette: Rules or manners for interacting courteously with others online (such as not typing  a message in all capital letters, which is equivalent to shouting).

Password: A secret word or number that must be used to gain access to an online service or to modify software, such as a parental control.

Phishing: A scam that involves sending a fraudulent e-mail soliciting credit card, social security, or other personal information from an unsuspecting user.

Real-time: “Live” time; the actual time during which something takes place.

RBG - Red Green and Blue - screen colours.

Search engine: An Internet service that helps you search for information on the web.

Security Certificate Information stored on a web server that is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection with another computer. Security Certificates contain information regarding ownership, issuer, a unique serial number or other unique identification, and valid dates.

Screen Resolution - 72ppi (pixels per inch) or dpi (dots per inch). Note - Print resolution is 300 dpi or higher in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

SEO: Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is a service that focuses on improving a website's visibility on search engines under specific keyword searches.

Skype™: A popular computer program that enables users to set up profiles, make free phone calls, chat, and video chat through their computer or mobile device from any point around the world. This free service functions through a “peer-to-peer” network, which allows individuals to communicate directly with each other rather than through a central server.  Since the conversations and content exchanged through skype are not scrutinized by monitors, children are at risk of exposure to inappropriate material and dangerous people.

SMS: Stands for “short Message service,” a form of text messaging on cell phones, sometimes used between computers and cell phones.

Social Networks: Online communities where people share information about themselves, music files, photos, etc. There are many social networking websites (e.g., Myspace, Facebook, or Friendster).

Software: A program, or set of instructions, that runs on a computer.

Spam: Any unsolicited e-mail, or junk mail. Most spam is either a money scam or sexual in nature. Internet service Providers, e-mail software, and other software can help block some, but not all, spam.

Spyware: A wide variety of software installed on people’s computers, which collects information about you without your knowledge or consent and sends it back to whoever wrote the spyware program. The programs typically will track computer use and create numerous pop-up ads. in some instances, the spyware can damage the computer and facilitate identity theft.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) A piece of computer software that encrypts messages sent over the Internet to prevent criminals from eavesdropping on them. All of the ECommerce team's applications use SSL to keep credit card numbers confidential when they are transmitted over computer networks. When a web page URL starts with "https:", it is using SSL to encrypt both the web request and the response you see on your browser. Never enter credit card numbers into a web form that is not on an https URL or send them by unencrypted email.

Surfing: Similar to channel surfing on a television, Internet surfing involves users browsing around various websites following whatever interests them.

Twitter: Twitter is a social media site that lets its users send short messages (or “tweets”) to a network of connected users online. Twitter is similar in form to features on other social networking and instant messaging sites that allow users to update their “status” or leave an “away message” to let their friends know what they are up to in real-time, all the time. On Twitter, this is also called “micro-blogging”; individuals have 140 characters to let the world know what’s on their mind or to send a tweet about something they care about.

Uniform Resource Locator (url): The address of a site on the internet. For example, the uRL for the White house is: Each URL is unique and there are millions of them.

Upload: To send information from your computer to another computer.

Username: The name a user selects to be identified on a computer, on a network, or in an online gaming forum.

Valid web pages are those that return no errors based on the type of HTML/XHTML specified in the doctype declaration at the beginning of the file. In other words, the code used on the page conforms to the specifications for that version of HTML/XHTML. This can be checked through various validation services, most commonly the one from W3C.

Videocam (webcam): Video cameras that are often attached to a computer so that a video image can be sent to another while communicating online.

Virus: A self-replicating software program that typically arrives through e-mail attachments and which multiplies on the hard drive, quickly exhausting the computer’s memory. A trojan is a variation that allows unauthorized users access to the computer, from which they can send infected e-mails or spam.

Web Host A business that provides web hosting services to allow us to upload our boutique web designs.

A web page is a single document, generally written in HTML/XHTML, meant to be viewed in a web browser. In many cases, web pages also include other coding and programming (such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, or ASP). Web sites are generally built from multiple interlinked web pages.

Webmaster An individual that creates or manages a boutique website.

A web server is a computer that has software installed and networking capabilities that allow it to host web sites and pages and make them available to internet users located elsewhere. There are a few different setups that can be used for a web server, including the LAMP setup mentioned earlier.

Web 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.

Wireless computers: Many networks now allow computers access to the Internet without being connected with wires. These networks are becoming increasingly more popular and powerful, allowing people to access the internet using cell phones and other devices.

World Wide Web (www or web): A hypertext-based navigation system on the internet that lets you browse through a variety of linked resources, using typed commands or clicking on hot links.  

(adapted from Smashing Mag and