Web developer jargon for beginners

Web developer speak really is its own language. But don’t worry! This post is here to help you understand what your web developer means when they say CSS or nesting (and no it doesn’t mean birds will be nesting on your website).

Here are a few terms we get asked about a lot:

ACCESSBILITY

This is the ability of a website to be used by people with disabilities, including visually impaired visitors using screen readers, hearing impaired visitors using no sound, color blind people, or those with other disabilities. A website with low accessibility is basically going to be impossible for those with disabilities to use.

AUTOMAGICALLY

A portmanteau that combines “automatically” and “magically.” Generally, it refers to something that has a complex technical process that’s hidden from users, so that something almost appears to work by magic.

BACK END

The back end of a website is the part hidden from view of regular website visitors. The back end generally includes the information structure, applications, and the CMS controlling content on the site.

BOUNCE RATE

A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages. This can be a good indicator of how good a website’s navigation is, as well as an indicator of the quality of the site’s content (a very high bounce rate doesn’t bode well for either of those things).

CASCADING STYLE SHEETS

Also referred to simply as CSS, Cascading Style Sheets are used to define the look and feel of a web site outside of the actual HTML file(s) of the site. In recent years, CSS has replaced tables and other HTML-based methods for formatting and laying out websites. The benefits to using CSS are many, but some of the most important are the simplification of a site’s HTML files (which can actually increase search engine rankings) and the ability to completely change the style of a site by changing just one file, without having to make changes to content.

CSS FRAMEWORK

A CSS framework is a collection of CSS files used as the starting point to make XHTML and CSS web sites quickly and painlessly. They usually contain CSS styles for typography and layout.

ELASTIC LAYOUT

An elastic layout is one that uses percentages and ems for widths paired with a max-width style to allow the site layout to stretch when font sizes are changed. It’s ability to flex to accommodate the browser width and reader’s font preferences are where it gets its name.

EMBEDDED STYLE

An embedded style is a CSS style written into the head of an XHTML document. It only affects the elements on that page, instead of site-wide as a separate CSS file does. Style in an embedded style sheet will override styles from the linked CSS file.

FAVICON

Favicons are tiny, customizable icons displayed in the web address bar in most browsers next to the web address. They’re either 8-bit or 24-bit in color depth and are saved in either .ico, .gif or .png file formats.

FIXED WIDTH LAYOUT

A fixed width layout has a set width set by the designer. The width stays the same regardless of screen resolution, monitor size, or browser window size. It allows for minute adjustments to be made to a design that will stay consistent across browsers. Designers have more control over exactly how a site will appear across platforms with this type of layout.

FRONT-END

The front-end is basically the opposite of the back-end. It’s all the components of a website that a visitor to the site can see (pages, images, content, etc.) Specifically, it’s the interface that visitors use to access the site’s content. It’s also sometimes referred to as the User Interface.

HIT

Contrary to popular belief, a hit does not represent a single visitor to a website. A hit is actually a request for a single file from your web server. This means one page can actually generate multiple hits, as each page generally has more than one file. And each one is requested from the server whenever the page is loaded. Some marketing people like to quote hits to unknowing consumers as the number makes their site sound like it’s getting a whole lot more traffic than it actually is.

HTML

Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the primary language used to write web pages. HTML is primarily intended as a way to provide content on websites (with CSS handling the layout and stylistic options), though it can also be used to determine how that content is displayed.

LANDING PAGE

A landing page is the page where a visitor first enters a website. Oftentimes, a special landing page is created to elicit a specific action from the new visitor (usually in connection with an advertising or marketing campaign).

LIQUID LAYOUT

A liquid layout is one that is based on percentages of the browser window’s size. The layout of the site will change with the width of the browser, even if the visitor changes their browser size while viewing the page. Liquid layouts take full advantage of a person’s browser width, optimizing the amount of content you can fit on screen at one time.

NESTING

Nesting refers to putting one HTML element within another element. When this is done, the elements have to be closed in the reverse order from how they were opened.

SCRIPT

Generally refers to a portion of code on an HTML page that makes the page more dynamic and interactive. Scripts can be written in a variety of languages, including javascript.