For today’s post, I’ve decided to put together an A-Z of web design, as there’s are a lot of jargon and acronyms used in this field. This is my attempt in explaining some of these to the layman.
A is for accessibility. Originally, describing a web page’s content as accessible meant that disabled users could consume it. Now it’s more universal i.e. that everyone has access. Read my article on accessibility for more information.
B is for bandwidth. This is the amount of data consumed when a visitor accesses a website. Websites which host large files such as videos will use more bandwidth. For further explanation of bandwidth, visit this Executionists article.
C is for CSS – cascading style sheets. This is the code used to control the presentation of a site, including colour, borders, spacing, and so on. Think of it like the paintwork and furnishings in a house. CSS3 is the latest standard.
D is for domain name system (DNS). This is a giant database which translates a domain name or web address (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk) into a machine-readable IP address. It’s like looking up the phone book when you want to call a business – you find the business name in the directory and the book tells you what number to call. In the same way, DNS finds the IP address of the web server you want to reach for you. You just need to know the domain name.
E is for email. When you set up a new website (e.g. www.example.com), email for the same domain (e.g. [email protected]) must be configured as a separate service from the actual site in order to use it. This means you can choose to use another provider for your email instead of your web host. I recommend Google Apps for Work.
F is for Flash, a once popular technology for creating animations on the web which has fallen out of favour since Apple announced it was not supporting it on iPhone and iPad.
G is for Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides a special piece of code to add to a website which allows you to track your site visitors. You can get statistics on visitor location, browser and device used, most popular pages and much more.
H is for HTML, the language used to construct web pages. It stands for HyperText Markup Language. HTML defines the structure of your pages, like the ceiling, walls and floor of a room in a house. It’s now in its 5th incarnation, HTML5.
I is for IP address, a set of numbers assigned to any internet-connected computer. For example, amazon.com has the IP address 126.96.36.199. Try typing it directly into your browser and see what happens.
K is for keywords, or more correctly key phrases. When writing your web pages, you need to be mindful of what your intended visitors will search for in search engines to find you, and include these terms in your content. Google Keyword Planner is one tool which helps with finding suitable keywords.
L is for Linux, an open source computer operating system. Linux is widely used for web servers. The Android mobile OS is also based on Linux.
M is for MySQL, a type of database routinely used for storing information. It’s used to hold data for big-name websites such as Facebook and Flickr.
N is for name servers – domain-specific web servers which control a domain’s DNS. Each domain has at least two. They are in the format ns.123-reg.co.uk and ns2.123-reg.co.uk. It’s therefore possible to have a domain registered with one provider and hosted by another by changing the name servers associated with the domain.
O is for open source. Open source software is free to use and can be modified by anyone. WordPress is an example.
P is for Photoshop, the industry standard software for photo manipulation. It’s also widely used by web designers to create visuals of web page designs before they are coded.
Q is for query. A database is said to be queried when it is asked for some information it holds, such as the number of comments on a blog post.
R is for responsive web design, a method of designing web pages so that they adapt to display well on tablets and smartphones.
S is for SSL (secure socket layer). SSL is a security protocol for encrypting website data. It’s particularly used for online shopping, but is increasingly being used for other types of site. An SSL certificate must be purchased in order to use it. You can tell that a site has SSL because it will start with https:// and have a padlock icon in the address bar.
T is for tag cloud, a visual representation of terms associated with blog posts.
U is for usability, the measure of how easily a user can achieve the desired goal when using a web page or application.
V is for vector. A vector image can be scaled to any size without loss of detail, unlike a photograph. Commonly logos are vectors.
W is for web server. Web servers are specialised computers which deliver web pages to other computers or devices requesting them (clients).
X is for XML – eXtensible Markup Language, a language used to describe data. XML has many uses, one being for RSS feeds i.e. syndication of latest blog posts.
Y is for Yahoo, a company known as a web directory, search engine and free email provider.
Z is for Z-index, a CSS property controlling overlapping elements. It specifies the stack order of them. Find out more about Z-index from CSS Tricks, if you’re so inclined.
Now you know your A, B, C, won’t you come and play with me? Only joking! 🙂