Web development lingo 101: terms every marketer should know

Just about every business has a website these days—it’s become almost as essential as business cards. And chances are your company will be looking to develop a website or redesign your existing one in the near future.

Though you’ll probably commission out the work to a web design and development firm, you, like every marketer, will need to know certain basic terms so you can speak intelligently and get the end product you’re looking for.

To help you, here are some “must know” terms we’ve defined in easy-to-understand language. (Some of these may be new to you. Some you probably already know.)  But all are essential when you’re talking web design.

Below the fold: The area of a webpage that a user must scroll to see.

Call to action (CTA): Specific elements (text, image, banner or button) that use persuasive, action-oriented words to urge visitors on a website to take a desired action (e.g., download a whitepaper, register for a webinar, contact us, learn more).

Cookies: A small text file, including an anonymous unique identifier and visit information that’s sent to a browser from a website and stored on a visitor’s computer hard drive. This data provides information about who visits the website, how often they visit, what parts of the site they visit the most and other information.

Content management system (CMS): A software system that’s used to control the content on your website. This allows you to log into the “backend” of your website and edit the text and images. Some examples include WordPress and Drupal. A CMS is designed to simplify the publication of website content, without requiring technical knowledge of HTML or uploading files.

CSS: Cascading style sheets (CSS) are the code that developers use to designate how a webpage should be presented to end users. It formats the look and feel of your website and sets global styles for fonts, colors, images, menus, etc.

404: A page that users see when they try to reach a nonexistent page on a website—usually because the page has been deleted or they’ve mistyped the URL. An effective 404 error page should communicate why the page doesn’t exist and what users can do next.

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the markup language that’s used to build
webpages and display content like text, images, video and links on the web. It’s often used in conjunction with other languages that allow the web developer to add functionality, such as CSS, PHP and JavaScript.

Information architecture (IA): The information design, organization of content and navigation of a website. This typically includes a site map and wireframes for each page template and any necessary notations regarding navigation, content and features included on the site.

Metatag: An HTML tag that stores information about a webpage, such as description, author, copyright, etc. A metatag’s function is to provide information about a webpage and its content. Search engines use this information to categorize websites and display information in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Page template: A unique page layout for a website, specifically one that’s built using content management systems. On average, a website has 5–10 page templates. For example, the homepage and contact page of a website look different and contain different elements so they are two different page templates.

Parallax scrolling: A scrolling technique used in computer graphics in which background images move more slowly than images in the foreground, creating the illusion of depth and immersion.

Resolution: A way of measuring the sharpness and level of detail in an image. A higher resolution usually indicates a larger file size, representing the amount of data—like pixels or dots—within the image.

Responsive design: A website that adjusts to the screen on which it’s being viewed, whether desktop, mobile or smart phone.

Search engine optimization (SEO): The process of helping search engines understand the information on your website in order to rank higher in organic search results. This includes having title tags, metadescriptions and ALT tags for images on your website.

Slider: A rotating banner of images that’s usually placed on the homepage of a website. It’s a “slide show” type format that can highlight different content and include images or video.

Site map: A document that shows a global, hierarchical view of a website’s pages and content. Developing a site map is usually one of the first steps in the design/redesign of website, as it’s important to know what content is needed before design begins. A site map can also be a
webpage that offers links to all the pages within a website.

User experience (UX): The interaction a user has with an interface. From a planning
perspective, the user experience is typically defined in wireframes, but every aspect of the web design and development process—from site structure and copywriting to design and programming—affects the user experience.

Wireframe: A visual guide to show the content of a webpage without any design
elements. It suggests the structure of a page without any graphics or text. This helps to
focus on the layout of content and hierarchy, without being distracted by the design.

WYSIWYG: A term that stands for “what you see is what you get.”  It refers to the interface inside a CMS that applies styles to text and graphics and allows users to see what the content will look like.

The above list just covers the basics. But if you understand these terms, you’ll certainly be a web-fluent marketer and can hold your own in any web development discussion.

By the way, if you’re looking for a new website, Agency Ingram Micro can help. To learn more about our web design and development capabilities, contact Wendy Sanacore at Wendy.Sanacore@ingrammicro.com.  We’ll be happy to trade web lingo with you.