Web Design & Development Glossary

The nomenclature of us web design & development geeks can be a little daunting. But – there’s some stuff you really need to know. Probably a lot of crap you DON’T need to worry about – but if you’re looking for some simplified explanations, easy links and answers to questions, this is a good place to look.


Web Design Glossary - A

Accessibility: a Website’s ability to be easily used by people with various disabilities.
I.e. Visually impaired people using screen readers.

Ajax: is short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Ajax is used to create more dynamic websites and applications. It allows the site pages to have asynchronous data retrieval. This means that the page will receive information from the server without requiring the user to reload the page.

Anchor Text: are the bolded or colored text/ words on a site that the a user clicks on to access activate a the hyperlinks and which loads the corresponding linked information or pages.

Web Design Glossary - B

Back End (backend): The parts of the website that a site visitor the users do not see or have access too. The back end usually contains the structural information, applications, and the Content Management System controls (if you work with us, it’s usually WordPress.) There are some bits in here which are generally only used by the site owner or their Web developer/ programmer. The public has very little access to the backe nd.

Backlinks: Links on other sites that link back to your website. They are useful for improving your site’s search engine ranking—because they show Google that you have connection to other businesses, or Web entities which provide relevant content to your industry.

Bad Neighborhood: Refers to servers which host questionable websites. These type of servers host websites using spam, porn, marketing “schemes” and/or black-hat SEO like link farms and bullshit, spammy links. Being hosted in a bad neighborhood can get YOUR site penalized for “bad behavior” even if your specific site is not using spam or black-hat SEO. Be wary!

Bandwidth: refers to two particular meanings:

  1. The rate that data is transferred as well as the total amount of data that a web host allows to be transferred in a given month or different hosting term before overcharges are added.
  2. Lower bandwidth equals slower download speed and higher bandwidth equals faster download speed. Bandwidth is usually calculated in bps or bits per second and kilobits per second, kbs.

What this means for you is that you need an optimized site with optimized images and optimized code so your site loads fast. We do that.

Below the Fold: Refers to content that is not immediately visible when a standard sized website page loads. The visitor will have to scroll down on the page to see what additional information is not immediately visible on screen – or “above the fold.”

Bounce Rate: Refers to the percentage of people who enter and a exit a website without clicking on any additional pages. Looking at bounce rate is a good way to see how well a site’s navigation is targeted, and communicating with users. A high bounce rate shows the navigation and/or site content needs improvement.

Breadcrumbs: A directory path showing the user where they are on the site, and the links they clicked on to arrive at their current position. Example – In the event the user is on the staff page, the breadcrumbs would be Home > About > Staff. Breadcrumbs can actually help with SEO.

Browser: The program being used to access the internet and view a website. Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox are the most popular – in that order.

Web Design Glossary - C

Cache/Caching: Files web browsers save or download allowing faster load rates upon a repeat visits to a previously viewed site.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): Are look-and feel design parameters or formats built into a website’s user interface—or what the user can see. The layout and visual aspects of a site can be created and changed in just one CSS file, or a site can have multiple CSS files. It is beneficial to try and keep the amount of CSS files lower.

Client-Side: programing includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These languages run inside YOUR web browser rather than on the SERVER that the site is hosted on. These languages control all the visual aspects of a website.

Content Management System (CMS): Is a tool used in backend of web development. CMS makes it easier for developers or designers to change functionality and design of a site independently of it’s content. CMS also makes it easier to add or change content on a site.

Comments: In Web Development/Design is information written inside of code files not recognized by web browsers. These comments describe files and act as reference notes for what the files do. They’re mainly notes for developers – the front end of the website really doesn’t show any of this.

CSS Framework: are CSS files collected together as a starting point to create websites quickly. Files usually included in the Framework define layout and typography.

Web Design Glossary - D

Deprecated Code: Code that is outdated in different language’s specifications. This code is left in the specifications to allow backwards compatibility of the languages.

DHTML: means Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language, it combines XHTML or any other markup languages, Javascript or any other programing language, the Document Object Model, and CSS to develop interactive content on the web.

Dither: In certain image file formats like GIFs, color palettes are limited. Not all colors in these images can be displayed. Dither approximates those missing colors by combining different colored pixels to visually simulate them. A workaround for this is using PNGs, which have a mostly unlimited color palette, and they support transparency. Sweeeeet.

DNS: Domain Name Servers maintain internet domain names like: “bobsdogiscute.com” (which people can easily recognize) and translate them to numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses like: “” (which computers can easily recognize)

Doctype: Doctype declaration is defined at the top of an HTML file. This declaration defines which version of HTML is being used in the file. It is defined to help the HTML file validate in a web browser.

Document Object Model (DOM): is a convention used independently of whichever programming language used. It represents the objects inside HTML, XML, and XHTML document files. The DOM is used to build the basic structure of a website. Client-Side programing languages are used to manipulate and change the DOM of a site.

Domain or Domain Name: Your domain is the name of your website. The domain name is the “name” is a part of the “URL” that you type into your web browser address bar. i.e. www.coca-cola.com

Document Type Definition (DTD): is a schema language along with SGML and XML, that provide comments, attributes, elements, and notes of a document as well as how they connect to each other.

Web Design Glossary - E

E-Commerce or E-Comm: Are short form for “Electronic Commerce.” Selling and purchasing physical or digital products online.

Elastic Layout: is a type of site layout that uses percentages and ems instead of set pixels for widths along with max-width style to allow a site to resize with the browser width and user font preferences. This is also, essentially, “responsive.”

Element: The central building block for any HTML or other markup language document. An element can be text, images – all sorts of stuff.

Em: is a measurement used to define the size of fonts and other elements on a site’s page, relative to the size of the parent element – percentage-based sizes. This is based on mathematics and screen size.

Embedded Style: is CSS styling written in the head of an HTML document instead of in a separate CSS file. This styling only affects the elements on that page and does not change the entire site. Separate CSS files are overridden by embedded styling.

Ex: the measurement of a font relative to the size of the x letter in that font family.

Extensible Markup Language (XML): a markup language that is used to create custom markup languages.

External Style Sheet: a CSS document that is written in a separate document from the site’s HTML file. This CSS document controls the style, layout, fonts and other bits of the site.

Web Design Glossary - F

Favicon: Small customizable icon image, approx 16×16 or 32×32 pixels, displayed in the URL address bar prior to the web address.

Fixed Width Layout: A layout with fixed width that does not change (proportionately) no matter what the browser size, screen resolution, or monitor size. The size is set by the designer.

Focal Point: The visual area of a site that a person’s eye is automatically drawn to and focuses on. Ensure that content at the focal point be it image or text, is the most important thing on your site.

Fold: On a website the fold is the area located at or below the bottom of a page. The user has to scroll down to see any information “below the fold” .

Font Family: Defines the list of fonts/typefaces that will be used on a site. Defined in the CSS stylesheets.

Font Style: Determines whether a font is displayed in italics, bold, underline, etc. – or displayed normally. The font style is defined inside the CSS stylesheets.

Front-End: The front-end components of a website are those that visitors actually see and interact with, such as website pages, text, images, command buttons and links. (Also called “user interface”)

Web Design Glossary - G

Graceful Degradation: Websites that are compatible with new and old browsers.

Graphical User Interface (GUI): GUIs allow users to access and use web applications without having to enter any code. The GUI is a visual display of web applications that allow users (even non-programmers/non-developers) to display web content themselves.

Web Design Glossary - H

Hexadecimal: refers to a base 16 number system used to represent the color spectrum online. The hex system uses 0-9 and A-F. For example, red in hexadecimal would be #FF0000. Hexadecimal colors always begin with the hash symbol- # and are written as three sets of hex pairs to represent the RGB screen color model. IN OTHER WORDS: Web-safe colors are based on a Hexadecimal cataloging system. TO make a long story short—a hexadecimal code is assigned to ea specific web-safe color ” For example, red in hexadecimal would be #FF0000” (There are a finite number of colors.)

Hit: a hit is defined as a single request of a file from one web server. Because pages normally have more than one file, a page can have multiple hits. So, you may get 1 VISIT, but you could get 200 hits from that visit – even if they visit just one page.

Host & Hosting: Your “host” is where your website files live. Most folks are just NOT able to host their own websites. This is best left to the professionals. We have a couple of hosts we recommend. Ask us.

.HTACCESS: configuration file located in a website’s directory, that controls what users and groups can access the site’s files.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): HTML is the language used most often to write code for webpages. It defines the basic structure and information for the pages. That the CSS then attaches to and styles. HTML is the STRUCTURE of a webpage.

HTML Tag: is the specific code that defines how different section of the webpage will look. An example of an html tag would be

Here is a paragraph

The tag is the opening and closing

that defines the inner text as a paragraph.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): are rules that control hypertext transfers between web browsers, that run sites, and web servers.

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL): are rules that control hypertext transfers between web browsers and web servers. However, with HTTPS these transfers are done through secured connections that encrypt the information.

Hyperlink: A link that connects one webpage or website to another–either within the same site or through linking to a completely different webpage/site. Links can be displayed as hypertext (text written on the page, usually bolded or highlighted). Links may also be hidden or embedded in pictures. If the user clicks on a hyperlink the new content/page/site is loaded.

Hypertext: Any text on a computer that contains hyperlinks.

Web Design Glossary - I

Iframe (Inline Frame): Is essentially a window on your website that displays content from another website. An iframe is a bit of code in a page used to pull content from another website to display on a different website.

Image Map: An image that has multiple clickable areas which will activate hyperlinked content specific to the area clicked.

Inheritance: In CSS, the style of an element is determined based on “inheritance.” Unless you assign an element it’s own style, it will receive it’s style from the element directly above it in the HTML hierarchy.

Inline Style: An element’s style is defined within the HTML document instead of in a separate file.

Web Design Glossary - J

JavaScript:  A scripting language developed by Netscape that interacts with HTML, allowing for dynamic and interactive websites. Common JavaScript effects are mouseovers, rotating sliders, and navigation, commonly used to create drop-down menus.

JPEG: An image type – short for “Joint Photographic Experts Group,” the folks who invented it. JPEGs use adjustable compression, so you can adjust the size, quality and download speed of the images you use on your website.

Web Design Glossary - K

Kerning:  The space between letters. In web terms, this is accomplished by using “letter-spacing” in CSS.

Keywords: Although the use of the keywords meta tag is kinda dead, the actual idea of keywords isn’t. Keywords are still important to understand – these are really what folks are searching for – you need to use them in headlines, descriptions and body text. Just don’t need them in the header anymore.

Web Design Glossary - L

LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Php/Python/Perl): are the specifications of a web server, using Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, or Perl. (Why do I need to know this? What for What?)

Landing Page: The first page a user sees when entering a website (usually the home page.) This can also be a standalone page that ads point directly to.

Link Farm: A collection of links specifically curated to connect to targeted websites in order to increase search engine ranking, and relevance.

Liquid Layout: These are website layouts that change their width with the browser window.

Web Design Glossary - M

Markup: is code that changes a text document into a markup language such as HTML.

Meta Data: Data that gives information about other data. Meta data is not visible to a visitor .or within the content of the user interface.

Meta Tag: An HTML tag used to help browsers understand titles, descriptions and relevance of content elements when searching a website.

Web Design Glossary - N

Navigation: Can include menus, links, “breadcrumbs”, pagination. Also, generally refers to how a user is empowered to move around within a website.

Nesting: Putting HTML elements inside of one another.

Non-Breaking Space ( ): A character that is added to text to assure an automatic line break will not occur on a webpage.

Web Design Glossary - O

Open Source: Software and source code available to the general public for free or low cost, which is also able to be enriched and contributed to by its own users.

Web Design Glossary - P

Pageview: A browser requesting the entire document of a webpage from a server in order for it to be viewed by a user. When someone visits and they just look at your home page, that’s a single pageview. If they go to your About Us page, that’s 2 pageviews etc. These are different than hits – and, frankly, more important.

Permalink: A static link on a website that always leads back to an assigned page even if the content on the page has changed. Usually associated with blogs.

Plug-In: Third party software or code that increases the capabilities of a website without having to change the core code of the site.

Progressive Enhancement: Creating simplified versions of web pages for older browsers, while also creating advanced versions of the same web pages to be viewed by newer browser technologies.

Property: In CSS terminology property defines how elements of websites are styled (similar to an HTML tag.)

Pseudo-Element: Adds extra elements and effects to specific CSS selectors.

Pseudo Class: adds extra elements and effects to CSS selectors. It can make an H1 look like an H2, but still appear to machines (Google) like an H1.

Web Design Glossary - Q

Query: In search engine terms, the “query” is the search term or search phrase entered into the search box. It can also be a server query – where your site asks your server a question or runs a script on your server.

Quicktime: A program and standard developed by Apple. It handles all kinds of rich media like video, images, sound etc. If you have iTunes or any Apple device, you have this – and, really, most browsers and computers have this already installed.

Web Design Glossary - R

Really Simple Syndication: Makes it possible for users to subscribe to a blog and receive updates from that blog using a feed reader.

Resolution: Is the physical number of pixels displayed on a computer or digital device screen.

Web Design Glossary - S

Schema: Defines specifications for how to define custom elements in an XML document. (WHU?)

Script: Code that makes certain aspects of a website more interactive and dynamic.

Selector: A CSS selector is a piece of code that tells the browser how the element within that code should be displayed or treated. Selectors include classes, divs, elements, values, active states – and a whole helluva lot more.

Semantic Markup: Adding comments next to HTML elements that describe what they are and what they do in the document.

Server: A computer (or series of computers) attached to the internet with the sole purpose of “serving” your files to the rest of the world – site files, designs, images, CSS, etc. All this stuff lives on your server (you usually just rent space,) and is waiting for someone to show up and check it out.

Server-Side: Where website code and programming “lives…” non-user interface (hosted) information that runs on a remote computer- not yours.

SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language): guidelines used to describe or define the structure of a markup language document.

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): Allows an application on a site to use a database or application from a different site.

Specification: Describes functionality or site requirements needed or used.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. Really mostly for ecommerce sites and sites with sensitive data.

Web Design Glossary - T

Tag: HTML markers that show when an element begins and ends.

Template: A file (or set of files) that contains premade information for creating a website’s design and structure. WordPress (and many other CMS) pull the design and layout information from templates.

Web Design Glossary - U

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): A website’s internet address. Example – https://bluedozendesign.com “

Usability: Refers to how easy your website is for visitors to use.

Web Design Glossary - V

Vector Graphics: Vector graphics differ from bitmap or raster graphics in that they are not made up of a grid of pixels. They rely on computer algorithms to define paths and shapes. Vector graphics are rarely used in web design, but are very common (required) in graphic design. A logo, for example, is usually created in vector format. From there it is exported to a bitmap/raster (JPEG, GIF, PNG) format for use on a web site.The main advantage is that vector graphics are fully scalable. You can print your vector logo at any size – even large enough to cover West Asheville completely –  without any loss of resolution along the edges. To learn more – click here.

Viral: A form of marketing where the user of the product or service helps to spread the word. The idea is that a good idea or marketing campaign would be “infectious” and “spread like a virus.” If you can get a viral hit, you’re golden.

Virus: This isn’t as cool as viral. Your site can get a virus and do all sorts of nasty stuff – from being blacklisted as spammy to being completely crippled to being turned into a porn site. Protect your site. Viruses are no fun for anyone.

Visit: A metric in web site usage statistics, a visit represents one person accessing the site, regardless of the number of pages the user accessed (pageviews).

Visit Duration: The amount of time that any particular visitor spends on a site. Webmasters are usually not interested in individual visit duration, but rather in the average visit duration for all visitors to a site.  If the average visit duration is short, it could either mean that the average visitor does not find the information they came looking for – or that they found it very quickly. The type of site and the type of information offered must be taken into account if visit duration is measured.

Web Design Glossary - W

Web Page: Any individual page on a website that a user views on an Internet browser.

Web Server: A computer that hosts websites and allows those sites to be viewed on the Internet.

Web Standards: Specifications created by the World Wide Web Consortium to create consistency across the Internet.

Web Design Glossary - X

XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language): HTML that is rewritten to conform to XML language rules.

XML (Extensible Markup Language): a markup up language that allows someone to create other markup languages.

Web Design Glossary - Y

Yottabyte (YB): One septillion bytes. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. There isn’t one YB worth of computer data on the entire Web. In 2006 we were at 160 exabytes. By 2009 it was 500 exabytes. Hell, this character is probably the one that pushes it over.

Web Design Glossary - Z

Zima: That shit’s deloyshus.

ZIP: ZIP is a Windows-based compression format, handy for grouping and compressing a collection of files. ZIP files can also contain directory structures. ZIP files can be uploaded to a web site and offered as a download.

Zone File: A zone file contains the information needed to translate a domain name (www.bluedozendesign.com) into an IP address – which is what actually points to your server and all your files.

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