Our Web Design Glossary

Website developers tend to talk a lot of jargon.  Here at GreenCup, we try really hard to explain anything technical that comes up, but sometimes we slip.  Whether you’re working with us on your website, or you’re working with another Grand Rapids based design firm, it may be helpful to have this glossary to support your project.  Note:  We list them in order of  relation rather than alphabetical.

HTML / CSS / PHP / JavaScript —  These are the main coding structures that support a WordPress website.  That’s all you, the client, should need to know, but here’s a little more detail just in case you want to know more.

  • HTML – the basic coding structure that supports a website.  It is what every browser reads, and has been around since the dawn of the web.
  • CSS – the code that makes everything pretty (although HTML today can do some prettifying as well).  CSS is what handles fonts, color gradients, and even some before and after stuff.
  • PHP – this is the code that talks to your server.  That means it handles emailing from the website, talks to your database to retrieve photos and website info, and more.  It also handles a lot of conditionals like ‘if this form is left empty, display an alert message’.
  • JavaScript – this code is also a conditional based code, but it manages only the front end of your website.  It can talk to your server, but only  minimally.  It’s mainly used to display fancy moving elements or anything dynamic on the site.

Content Management System (CMS) —  A CMS is software that handles the management of your website (rather than needing to know code to manage the site).  We use WordPress, but have also worked with clients on SquareSpace and Drupal.  There are a lot of other CMS platforms (like Wix and Weebly) over which designers argue the merits.

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Blog —  This may seem like a no-brainer, but we’ve gotten hung up on this with some of our clients.  A blog is simply a syndicated posting system.  In WordPress’s case, it uses a CMS to post to your website with images and categories.  Sometimes we use the syndication for something other than a blog, however.  It’s useful for anything you wish to post based on date and category, including articles, news, and updates.  It definitely does not need to be about your cat.

Web Address / URL — This is the address where your website is.  It is different than your website name.  In short, it’s a fancy way of telling the browser to go to an IP Address (which is a bunch of numbers) to find a specific set of files that, put together, make a website.  Think of it as the street address to a building.

Hosting — When we ask you who your host is, we’re not asking about aliens.  A host is the company that manages your server.  99% of our clients do not have their own servers.  Those that do have an in-house team to manage them.  Servers are big computers that ‘serve up’ your website when the address is typed in to a browser, and it houses the thousands of files and data that is require to make the website display properly.  Think of it as the building that houses your online company.

Website —  I guess if you come to us needing a website, you have a vague understanding of what it is.  But did you know it takes an average of 1,600 files to create a website?  Now you know why it seems so complicated — it is!  Again, we try to explain everything as best we can so the process is easy for you.

Database —  A database can be thought of as a giant interactive spreadsheet that uses lines of code (MySQL is most common) to update.

Email — Email uses your server to send and receive messages over the internet.  When we set up a website, we tell your contact form to send an email to your server, which then imports into your preferred email manager (see below).  A message sent from your email manager goes to your server, then goes to the other server which manages your addressee’s email.  It works very much like your website’s address.

Email Manager / Email Client —  Your email manager (or email client) is the preferred way you wish to view your email.  Many of our clients use the Google Business Suite (or G-Suite).  Other clients include Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, and RoundCube.

Website Design — This is the term most commonly use to describe front end design.  But that’s more jargon!  Front end design is the website your customers see in their browser.

Website Development —  This is the term that describes the coding phase of a website build.  This is also called back end design.  It does take design strategy to create the right structures for your website to run smoothly.

UX / UI —  The term used to describe User Experience or User Interface.  Technically these are two different things, but most designers do both.  User Experience (UX) is focused on the look and feel of the site, and how easy it is to use.  User Interface (UI) are the tools on the website the visitor may use (like a form).

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