Glossary of web design jargon

Welcome to our glossary of web design jargon. We created this resource to help further your understanding of web design terminology and jargon that you are likely to encounter on this site and elsewhere.

A

Accessibility
The degree to which a Web site is usable by screen readers or people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users can have equal access to information and functionality. Using the proper semantic coding techniques, helps your content reach as many users as possible.
Ajax
(Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a method of building interactive applications for the Web that process user requests immediately without needed to refresh the entire page.
API
(Application Programming Interface) is a specification intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other. As a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications, A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. An API may include specifications for routines, data structures, object classes, and variables.
Avatar
An avatar is a graphical representation of a user or a user’s alter ego. It may take the form of an icon.

B

Bandwidth
A term used to refer to various bit-rate measures, representing the available or consumed data communication resources of a physical communication link.
Blog
(Web Log)A web site on which an individual or group of users publish opinions, information, etc. on a regular basis.
Bounce Rate
The percentage of visits that come to a site and only view one page. This is an important metric because it helps you determine how engaging your home page is, and how effective your navigation is.
Browser
See Web Browser.

C

Cache
A collection of data duplicating original values. A web cache is a mechanism for the temporary storage (caching) of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce bandwidth usage, server load, and perceived lag. Web caches are often used by search engines, ISPs, web browsers, proxies, and CDNs. Heavily accessed items can be cached to improve performance and accelerate requests from the Internet.
CAPTCHA
A (Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) is the part of a web form that attempts to ensure that the person filling out the form is a real person. The goal of a CAPTCHA is to reduce spam. However, with optical recognition software, spammers might still be able to answer a CAPTCHA correctly. Also, they do nothing to stop humans from leaving spam. The major drawback of using CAPTCHA’s is that people have to complete an extra step before submitting a form. This is likely to discourage some legitimate users from participating.
CDN
A (content delivery network) is a large distributed system of internet servers deployed in multiple data centers. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.
CMS
(Content Management System) is a system used to manage the content of a Web site.
CSS
(Cascading Style Sheets) can be used to define how to display HTML elements. This is the language used to style websites.

D

Database
A database is a structured collection of data. MySQL is a popular choice of database for use in web applications.
Design
See Web Design.
Development
See Front-end Web Development.
Domain Name
A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control on the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System(DNS) and can be purchased on a yearly basis from a registrar.
Domain Name System
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. A Domain Name Service resolves queries for these names into IP addresses for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide. By providing a worldwide, distributed keyword-based redirection service, the Domain Name System allows the Internet, as we know it, to exist.
Dynamic Content
Content of a Web page that is generated in real-time. This type of page includes Web scripting code, such asPHP or ASP. When a dynamic page is accessed, the code within the page is parsed on the Web server and the resulting HTML is sent to the client’s Web browser.

E

E-commerce
(Electronic-commerce) is purchasing, selling, and exchanging of goods and services over the Internet.
E-mail
(Electronic-mail) is a system for sending and receiving messages electronically over the Internet.
Em
An em is a unit of measurement in the field of typography, equal to the currently specified point size. It is very useful for minimizing CSS bloat in responsive design.

F

Favicon
Short for favorites icon and also known as a short­cut icon and book­mark icon, it’s the lit­tle logo you see next to the address bar of your browser. They can also be seen in the favorites or book­marks sec­tion of your browser. They are great for strengthening your brand and visually separating a book­marked site from all the others.
Front-end Web Development
An important, yet often overlooked discipline that requires both aesthetic sensitivity and programmatic rigor. There are many technologies that fall within this field. They include markup, style, accessibility, usability, performance, templates, frameworks, programming, research, cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device functionality.

G

Gravatar
Gravatar (globally recognized avatar) is a service for providing globally unique avatars. With Gravatar, users register an account, and upload an avatar to be associated with their email address. WordPress, and many other blogging platforms and CMSs provide Gravatar support natively or with the use of plugins. When the user posts a comment on a blog that requires an e-mail address, the blogging software checks whether that e-mail address has an associated avatar at Gravatar. If so, the Gravatar is shown along with the comment. This is a great way for a user to maintain the same brand image across multiple online locations.
GUI
(Graphical User Interface) is the common method of interacting with a computer that allows the user to select commands, call up files, start programs, and do other routine tasks by using a device to point to icons or lists of menu choices on the screen instead of having to type in text commands.

H

Hosting
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients, as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. Web hosts can also provide data center space and connectivity to the Internet for other servers located in their data center,
Hypertext
A method of storing data that allows a user to create and link fields of information at will and to retrieve the data nonsequentially.

I

Icon
An Icon is a graphic symbol or image that represents something, often a program, command, specific file, directory, window, option, or concept in a GUI.
ISP
An (Internet Service Provider) is an organization that provides access to the Internet.

J

Jargon
The specialized language of a professional, occupational, or other group, often meaningless to outsiders.
JavaScript
An interpreted programming or script language.
JQuery
A cross-browser JavaScript library designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML.

K

Keyword
A keyword or keyword phrase is the phrase that a web author tries to target for search engines. Keywords should always represent the main purpose of a page. They are the words that people type into a search engineand find your page.

L

Lorem Ipsum
Placeholder or dummy text used by designers in preliminary designs to flesh out the page layout, typography, colors, etc. It is a form of scrambled latin text that mimics the flow of words, sentences, and paragraphs in English and other latin languages. Lorem Ipsum has been the standard dummy text ever since the 1500s.
LocalStorage
(HTML5 localStorage) is an API that gives web developers access to 5MB store on a users local machine with no expiration date. The data is stored in key/value pairs, and unlike cookies, this storage method restricts data access to the web page that stored it. This makes the data more secure. LocalStorage is part of the HTML5 Web Storage spec.

M

Media Query
A media query is a part of CSS that will allow you to serve a specific set of rules to certain devices, but only the ones that fulfill certain criteria. So instead of delivering different sites to different devices, the same site is delivered with unique customizations for each device. Media queries are one of the essential elements inresponsive web design
MySQL
A relational database management system based on Structured Query Language (SQL), MySQL is the most popular language for adding, removing, and modifying information in a database.

N

Navigation
Navigation refers to the process of navigating a network of web resources, and the user interface that is used to do so. This is sometimes called a navigation menu. A central theme in web design is the development of a web navigation interface that maximizes usability.

O

Open Source
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is available with source code. The source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under an open-source license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software. Open source software is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner.

P

PayPal
An electronic commerce (e-commerce) company that facilitates payments between parties through online funds transfers. PayPal charges a small percentage for each transaction, and offers users the ability to easily accept credit card orders online.
PHP
(PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) is a script language and interpreter that allows web developers to create dynamic content that interacts with databases. It’s also a recursive acronym.

Q

Query
To interrogate a collection of data such as records in a database. The term may also be used to search a single file or collection of files.

R

Recursive Acronym
An acronym in which the first letter of the first word represented by the acronym is the acronym itself. An early tradition in the computing community was to use acronyms and abbreviations that referred humorously to themselves or to other abbreviations. This tradition lives on with such examples as GNU, PHP, and PINE.
Registrar
An organization or commercial entity, accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to manage the reservation of Internet domain names.
Responsive Web Design
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make your site usable on any device? There is. It’s called Responsive Web Design. Simply stated, its the creation of a site that is able to adapt to the context in which it is being viewed. In other words, it responds to a user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The three essential elements needed to create a responsive design are:

  1. A flexible, grid-based layout
  2. Flexible images and media
  3. Media queries
RSS
(Really Simple Syndication) is a way to easily deliver content. They are also referred to as web feeds.

S

Search Engine
A search engine is a resource designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. Search engines maintain real-time information by running an algorithm on a web crawler. When a user enters a keyword or keyword phrase, and the search results are presented as search engine results pages (SERPs).
Semantics
The study of meaning. It focuses on the relation between signifiers, such as words, phrases, signs, and symbols, and what they stand for. When coding a website, the proper use of semantics will enhance the site’saccessibility and help support a more meaningful, Semantic Web.
SEO
(Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving the visibility of a website by choosing targetedkeyword phrases related to a site, and ensuring that the site places well when those keyword phrases are part of a Web search.
SessionStorage
(HTML5 sessionStorage) is an API that gives web developers access to 5MB store on a users local machine. Like it’s name implies, sessionStorage holds the data for one browser session only. When the browser is closed, the data is gone. The data is stored in key/value pairs, and unlike cookies, this storage method restricts data access to the web page that stored it. This makes the data more secure. SessionStorage is part of theHTML5 Web Storage spec.
Sprite
Multiple images are combined into a “master image” to improve the performance of a site by reducing the number of HTTP requests to the server. Individual images are displayed by using the background-position property of CSS to define the exact position of the image to be displayed.
Social Media
The definition of social media continues to evolve as the platforms and technologies continue to change and expand, but social media are really just technologies that facilitate conversations.
Social Networking
The practice of expanding the number of one’s business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals or the use of a dedicated Web site to communicate informally by posting messages, photographs, etc.

T

Typography
The study of the design of typefaces, and the way in which the type is laid out on a page to best achieve the desired visual effect and to best convey the meaning of the reading matter.

U

UI
The (User Interface) is everything designed into an information device with which a human being may interact. This includes the display screen, keyboard, and mouse, as well as how an application or a Web site invites interaction and responds to it.
Usability
Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a website or software application. Usability studies the elegance and clarity with which interaction is designed.
UX
(User Experience) is the way a person feels about using a product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system along with highlighting the experiential, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership.

V

Vector Graphics
The use of primitive geometric elements such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygons, based on mathematical expressions, to represent graphical images. Vector images are made up of paths, or strokes, and can be scaled up or down without loss of resolution or pixelation.

W

Web Browser
A web browser, also known as a client or user agent, is an application for retrieving, presenting and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web.
Web Design
A multidisciplinary pursuit pertaining to the selection and coordination of elements to create the layout and structure of Web sites, including technical development, information structure, visual design, and networked delivery. The quality of the design can affect how visitors find the site (Search Engine Optimization), how long visitors use the site (Site Stickiness), how likely visitors are to return (Repeat Visitors), and how often visitors buy or register (Conversion Rate).
Web Development
See Front-end Web Development.
Web Hosting
The business of providing the storage, connectivity, and services necessary to serve files for a website. A web hоsting service allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web.
Web Storage
(HTML5 Web Storage) is the HTML5 spec that includes localStorage and sessionStorage. Cookies are no longer the only way for web pages to store data in the user’s browser. With HTML5 Web Storage, data can be stored securely within the user’s web browser. The data is stored in key/value pairs, and unlike cookies, both new storage methods restrict data access to the web page that stored it. This makes them more secure.
Webfont
A font that has been created, optimized, translated or otherwise modified for use by means of transmitting via the Internet. Webfonts significantly expand the number of available font choices for use in web design.
WordPress
A free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) based on PHP andMySQL. WordPress is publishing software with a focus on ease of use, speed and a great user experience. WordPress is blessed with an active community, which is the heart of open source software.

X

XHTML
(Extensible Hypertext Markup Language) is a family of XML markup languages that mirror or extend versions of the widely used HTML language in which web pages are written.

Z

Zoom
A functionality of a user interface where users can change the scale of the viewed area in order to see more detail or less. A zoomable user interface (ZUI) is a type of graphical user interface (GUI) where information elements appear directly on an infinite virtual desktop (usually created using vector graphics). Users can pan across the virtual surface in two dimensions and zoom into objects of interest.