If you’re planning a website development anytime soon, at some point or another you’re going to come across new jargon that may as well be Klingon. Some technical terms everyone can make do with not knowing. For example, did you know JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group? Not many do, but it’s never really proven itself as essential knowledge.
There will be times, however, when your website developer might start using terminology that is equal parts important and indecipherable. Learning some of the basic terminology can give you greater confidence in web design discussions, so, in that spirit, Dusted offer you our top 10 essential glossary terms!
A Content Management System (CMS) is the engine that powers your website – sometimes referred to as the ‘back-end’ to the site. The CMS program/app that you are using will have a set of approved templates prepared for you to work on, as well as wizards and other tools to help those new to website content development to create or edit on the website. At Dusted we develop WordPress and Drupal websites, the choice of which is dependent on project requirements such as size, budget, core features and plugins/modules. With over 200 advancements in the latest version of Drupal (8), improving performance and reliance on third party modules, this is fast becoming our recommended solution, especially for enterprise level sites.
That imagery you get from the word ‘wireframe’ is essentially correct. It’s the skeleton of the website page, usually lacking aesthetic detail. They’re there so you and the designers can get a better feel for the space and structure of the site (or app). It’s all well and good designing awesome elements and content for your website but you’re going to need to make sure it fits, and that it’s all functional.
Whatever you do, don’t start scolding your designers about how the page doesn’t “look right” at this point, because the wireframe does not indicate what the website will look like in its finished state. By all means, ask questions about what to expect, though. With the right perspective and gaps filled in, you should start getting an idea. Wireframes allow conversations about user experience (UX) and journeys to happen before a significant amount of time is spent on design (and should reduce the chance of lengthy design changes further down the line). At Dusted we’re fans of Moqups for our website and app wires.
Web design vs. web development
To avoid the awkward situation of asking the wrong person the right question about your website, remember that design and development are very different. While both work with HTML and CSS etc., designers are concerned with the look and feel of the website while developers go more in-depth to the language of the internet, because they write the code. Talk to designers about visuals, and developers about technology.
A Call To Action (CTA) is just what its full title suggests – you are effectively calling out to your audience to take action. That action could be a prompt to click a button or to dial a phone number, but the goal of a CTA is to help the user take the next step in their process with your business. You’ve seen a million of them before, and a good CTA should be irresistible to your mouse click.
UI simply refers to ‘User Interface’ (also known as Front-End), while UX is ‘User Experience’ (because experience begins with an X, as we all know). The UI is what your audience shall be interacting with when using the website, while the UX is how that interaction fares for them. Both are important and intrinsically linked: one without the other makes for a poor product. After all, you wouldn’t get excited about a TV that’s pretty on the outside, but inside it’s just Zoetrope.
Information architecture (IA) is basically the page structure of the website. It’s sort of like a hierarchal map of the different pages of the website. Imagine a family tree but with boxes representing web pages instead of people. This ‘map’ defines what pages live in what sections of the website. There are some cloud-based tools to help visualise the structure and send to clients: https://slickplan.com/website-architecture
There are now many ways to view a website, not just on your desktop computer. With a huge amount of web browsing happening on phones and tablets it’s almost essential in most cases to have a site that responds to the size of device on which it is being viewed. A responsive site has a single code base and is simply displayed differently depending on the user’s device size and capability (as opposed to having a completely separate mobile site for example). The obvious advantage is you have a single site to maintain rather than multiple sites for different screen sizes.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making the most effective use of (or ‘optimising’) how search engines, like Google, will rank you in their results list. Web professionals with an understanding of SEO will recommend any number of strategies to help you rank well such as security, performance, UX, content and links so it’s worth reading up on these areas as SEO is constantly changing.
Dusted are advocates of Moz software as they provide great content and tools on the subject.
User Accepted Testing (UAT) is the period near the end of the project when the client has the staging version of the website and tests it in order to sign it off before it goes live. They test it from UI perspective (any design issues), UX (did they enjoy using it), functionality (does it work without any errors) and content (spelling, grammar mistakes). It is sometimes also referred to as beta testing, application testing and end user testing.
Git is basically the ‘version control’ system we use for our code. Let me explain.
In the old days you would edit a file (e.g. HTML or CSS) and upload it to the website. If you wanted to change it you would have to edit it and copy over the first one (losing what you had originally). Then, if you wanted to revert back to the original file, you couldn’t as you’d copied over it. Version control keeps a history of all changes so this wouldn’t happen, you can revert any changes made, work on files simultaneously (without deleting other people’s stuff) and review all changes in the notes made by the developers – how handy!!!
With a proper glossary under your belt, you’re now armed with the knowledge to engage effectively with your designers and developers. We’ve a wealth of experience designing and building websites with clients of varied know-how of the process. We believe that the best results come from everyone being on the same page.