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Web Design and Development Glossary

An Introduction to Web Design Terms

Like any business, Web development has its own lingo that may baffle newcomers. We've put together this glossary of some of the terms you may encounter during the development process.

Address Bar
Same as Location Bar. The box near the top of your browser window that displays the URL of the page you are viewing. (See example.)

If you know the URL of a site your want to visit, you may type the URL directly into the address bar box, then hit "Enter" or "Return" to go directly to the site. You may also type search terms into the box and hit "Enter" or "Return"; the browser will automatically perform a search using its configured search engine.
The amount of data that can be transferred through a digital connection in a given time period, usually measured in bits or bytes per second.
(weB LOG) An online journal. The Blog owner periodically writes short articles which appear in reverse chronological order on the Blog. Subject matter can be any area of interest: personal, technical, daily events, politics, travel...just about anything.

A number of server-side web applications are available to make it easy to create and maintain a blog. Popular applications include Word Press, Text Pattern, and Movable Type.

You will also need to have a space on a Web server to publish your blog.
A software application used to find and display Web pages. What you are using to look at this page. Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, Safari and Firefox are all popular browsers; however there are many more. See also Cross Browser compatibility.
Generally, high speed Internet access. The 2 most popular types are DSL which uses your phone line, and Cable Modem which uses your cable TV connection. Advantages: fast, always on. Disadvantages: more expensive, not as widely available. See also:Dial Up and Internet Service Provider.
Cable Modem
A special type of modem that is used to connect to the Internet using your cable television connection. Also refers to the delivery of high speed Internet service using this method. You must have access to cable television in your area to sign up for this service. See also: Broadband.
Content Management System (CMS)
A Content Management System (CMS) is a website management program that allows non-technical people to easily update their websites. After logging into a browser-based administration area, the site manager or author can edit the site - make new or edit pages, add photos and more. Examples of popular content management system include Word Press, Joomla, and Drupal.
A tiny text file that stored on your PC by your browser. Each cookie is connected to a specific website and shows that you (or someone using your computer ) has visited that Web site. Cookies can be used to record your preferences for that site, e.g. that you like the pink background. On sites where you log in, cookies also let the site keep track of you so you don't have to log into every page.
Cross Browser Compatibility
Coding a Web page so that it will display correctly in a variety of browsers. Since each browser works a bit differently, care must be taken to make sure the page displays in all the most popular browsers to reach the widest possible audience.
Dial Up Internet Connection
A way to access the Internet from your home computer. A dial up connection use your computer's modem and your telephone line. Advantages: widely available, low cost (current costs range from free to about $25 month. Telephone connection costs may be extra.) Disadvantages: slow, occupies your phone line.
Domain Name
A Web site address, e.g. www.domainname.com. Anyone can buy a domain name from a Domain Registrar. The name you register must be unique, i.e. no one else has registered it.
See articles Get a Domain Name, Domain Name FAQs.
Domain Registrar
A company that is authorized to register and manage domain names. You purchase your Domain Name (Web site address) from them.
See articles Get a Domain Name, Domain Name FAQs.
To move a copy of a file from a server (a remote computer) to your computer (a local computer) See also Upload.
DSL Service
(Digital Subscriber Line) Provides high speed Internet access using a DSL modem and your phone line. Advantages: high speed, can be connected without blocking your phone's voice service. Offered by local and long distance telephone service companies but not available in all areas of the U.S. See also:Broadband.
Email Client
A computer program used to read and send email. Popular email clients include Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail.
Email filtering
To organize and sort email according to specified criteria. Can be useful in filtering out unsolicited email or spam. Many email clients have a built in email filter which you can use to sort your own incoming email by keyword. There are also some applications that allow you to set up filters to send spam directly to trash.
Email Forwarding
To send email addressed to one email account to another email account. Can be used to send all one's email to one main account for convenience.
(Frequently Asked Questions.) A list of common questions and their answers.
Font Family
A collection of typefaces with similar characteristics. For Web design, you should choose from 4 basic font families:
  • sans-serif
  • serif
  • cursive
  • monospace
How fonts appear in the browser on the site visitor's computer may vary. It depends on what fonts are installed, what the browser settings are on, etc.
(File Transfer Protocol.) A standard method to move computer files over networks, including the Internet. This is the method your Web developer typically uses to move files to and from your Web site's host server.
FTP client
An application which is used to move files from one computer to another over a network using FTP. There are many free or low cost FTP clients available Windows, Macintosh, and Unix/Linux platforms.
The most commonly used format to compress images that are not photographs for Web presentation. Images are compressed (made smaller) by restricting the number of colors used. This makes them smaller and quicker to download. An image in GIF format will have the .gif extension, ex.: mypic.gif
See also: JPEG
Host, Hosting
Short for Web Host.
(HyperText Mark-up Language.) The codified language used by Web developers to specify how a Web page will appear in the browser window.
(HyperText Transfer Protocol.) A request/response protocol to facilitate communication between a client (your computer) and a server (a Web server). Using your browser, your computer sends a request to the server for a specific page. The server receives the request and responds by sending the page to your browser window.
The secure version of HTTP. For secure transactions such as submitting a card number for a purchase, the information between the browser and the receiving Web server is encrypted to protect the data from being intercepted by eavesdroppers.

In web pages that use HTTPS, the URL begins with 'https://' (with an "s") rather than 'http://'. Many browsers show a lock symbol at the bottom right. When you connect to a secure Web page, the lock should appear to be closed.
An area, usually a segment of text or an image, that you click on to go to another web page or another file. Hyperlinks can also point to a specific location in the same web page. This is a hyperlink.
Image Optimization
The process of compressing and/or converting images for presentation on the Web. Most images will be will be resized and converted into GIF or JPEG format to make them smaller and download faster.
IP address
(Internet Protocol Address) a unique numeric address of a computer on a computer network or on the Internet. Used similar to a street address, the IP Address identifies a specific computer in a specific location. Example:
Internet Service Provider (ISP)
A business that offers users access to the Internet via Dial-Up or Broadband. May offer other services such as Web site hosting and email accounts.
(Joint Photographic Experts Group.) The most commonly used file format to compress photographs for Web presentation. Images are compressed (made smaller) by using mathematical algorithm. With this method, photos are smaller and quicker to download but over-compression may cause degradation of image quality. An image in JPEG format will have the .jpg extension, ex.: mypic.jpg

Many digital cameras store your photos in JPEG format. JPEG files do not take up as much room on a memory card. They are also processed faster by the camera than the other file formats.
Keywords & Key Phrases
The words or phrases users put into search engines to find the web sites relevant to the topic they are seeking. E.g. A person searching for a web developer in a certain region might type in "web designer southern oregon". Enter more specific words to get more specific results.

For Website owners, use keywords and key phrases on your site to make sure your customers will find you when they are looking.
See article: Use Keywords to Improve Search Engine Ranking
Short for Hyperlink.
Link Exchange
A technique to increase a site's link popularity and search engine rankings by exchanging links with a site that has content similar to yours. May be of mutual benefit to search engine rankings of both sites. The key is to link to sites that are complimentary to yours. Avoid exchanging links with link farms as these may actually hurt your ranking.
Link Farm
Sites with lists of links created exclusively to increase a site's link popularity in a vain attempt to improve search engine rankings. Often have pages of link with no relation to the content on your site. Avoid them.
Location Bar
Same as Address Bar. The box near the top of your browser window that displays the URL of the page you are viewing. (See example.)

If you know the URL of a site your want to visit, you may type the URL directly into the location bar box, then hit "Enter" or "Return" to go directly to the site. You may also type search terms into the box and hit "Enter" or "Return"; the browser will automatically perform a search using its configured search engine.
(MALicious softWARE) Software that is designed to intentionally cause harm to your computer system or network. A trojan horse, worm or virus can be classified as malware.
Merchant Account or Merchant Services Account
An account with a bank that enables you to take and clear credit card payments. You'll need one, in some cases, if you want to accept credit cards online. See article: Credit Card Processing Options
Monthly file transfer
Your hosting plan usually limits how much data, usually measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB), you can transfer to and from your host server in a given month. An average brochure site does not need much — maybe 200 MB a month or less. Sites with a lot of visitors (traffic), or large size files, like video, music or lots of graphics, will need more.
Nameserver Settings
Settings made in your domain registration account that indicate where your site is hosted. You get these settings from hosting plan.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
Context sensitive text ads placed near search results; when a site visitor clicks on the advertisement, the advertiser is charged a small amount. The most popular pay-per-click search engines are Google AdWords and Yahoo!
PDF (Adobe Acrobat)
Portable Document Format. A platform independent file format that preserves formatting such as fonts, graphics, and layout so the documents when viewed or printed appear like the originals. Developed by Adobe Systems, PDF files require a free browser plugin, Adobe Acrobat Reader, to view.
Derived from 2 words: picture element. The smallest dot that can be displayed on a computer screen. Tiny squares of color are arranged in rows and columns to produce an image on a computer screen. Everything you see on your monitor is displayed using pixels. Also, the building blocks of a digital photo. The more pixels per inch, the higher the resolution of the photo.
Trying to get account information and passwords from you by sending scam email to you pretending to be a legitimate company — a store, a bank, PayPal, etc. These fraudulent emails often contain alarming messages to scare you into action.
See article: Email Scams and Internet Fraud
The operating system running software on a computer e.g. PC (Windows), MAC (OS9, OSX), Unix, Linux
Pop Up Window
A new browser window that opens [pops up] when the visitor clicks on a link or graphic. Pop up windows are often smaller than the existing browser window and display on top of the existing page the visitor is viewing. Can be used to provide supplemental information for topic in original page.
Search Engine
A program used to help find files on the World Wide Web. The searcher types in terms related to the topic for which they are searching (keywords). The search engine queries its database and returns a list of links to Web sites it feels are relevant to the keywords. Google, Yahoo, and MSN are popular search engines.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO
The process of refining the content of your web site to achieve a higher position in a list of search engine results for your site's targeted keywords to attract more potential customers. See article: Improve your Search Engine Ranking
Secure Server
A Web server that is able to protect personal information by transmitting the data in an encrypted form. When making online purchases, you should always to verify that the page where you enter your credit card information is on a secure server. You can check by making sure the "lock" image at the bottom right of your browser window appears in the locked position.
Secure Server Certificate (SSL Certificate)
If you plan to collect credit card or other sensitive information through your web site, you will need to apply for and install a secure certificate on your Web site. installing the certificate enables to site to transmit the information you collect in encrypted form. A certificate is issued to a specific domain name. It confirms that the domain of the site you are visiting is owned by the company named on the certificate. There is a fee, renewable annually. In addition, you must make sure your web hosting package allows you to host your own SSL Certificate.
Unsolicited E-mail. Electronic Junk Mail.
Trojan Horse
A malicious software program (malware) that appears to be useful, such as a game or utility program while hiding its real purpose of causing harm to your computer.
to move a copy of a file from our computer (a local computer) to a (Web) server or other computer (a remote computer). See also Download.
Uniform Resource Locator: the unique web address of a file on the Internet. URLs are commonly written as http://WebSiteName.com/directory/file.html. The http:// means the browser will use HTTP to communicate with another computer. The WebSiteName.com is the Domain Name.
A malicious, self-replicating program malware designed to do damage to your files, your operating system, or even your hardware. It spreads by attaching itself to other, good programs, and thereby gets passed from computer to computer. Your computer can pick up a virus from an email attachment, CD or floppy disk or, unknowingly, download one from the Internet.
Web Host
A company that rents space on a Web server. Many different hosting packages are available from which to choose depending on your needs. See also: What is a Web Host?
Web Server
A computer that houses and delivers ("serves") Web pages on the Internet. Your Web site files (pages) are uploaded to a Web server so that they will be available to view over the Internet.

Once the pages are placed a web server, a person only needs to know the URL, or location of your web page, and type it into their browser. The browser contacts the web server which finds the web page and serves it to the requesting browser. Generally, people with Web sites rent space on a Web server from a Web host.
See also: What is a Web Host?
A malicious, self-replicating program malware similar to a virus designed to do damage to files and programs.

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A Street Web Design offers custom web design in Oregon's Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon:
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