Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Defining Your Terms- Part I: Web Design Dictionary

As web designers and online marketers we work with many different people. They expect us to be savvy about SEO, aware of the web and on top of all things online. We need to have killer coding skills, carefully crafted copy and marvellous meta data. But what’s the most important thing when we’re creating campaigns and websites for our clients? It’s the same thing that’s important to you and your clients too, whether you work online, offline or read between the lines.  It’s all down to communication.  And even we have to admit that sometimes it can break down and need a little extra work. The easiest way to clear communication is to make sure that you all know exactly what you mean – that way you can all mean exactly what you say. 

Web Design

So here’s part one of our guide to terms that sometimes need a little definition before communication breaks down in the online game.

Remember, if your web designer or online marketing 'expert' says something you don’t understand, don’t be blinded by science- just ask!

Site Map

As in ‘the navigation is clear from the site map’

This does what it says on the tin. When you start planning out your new website, the most important thing to consider is what the user journey will be. What do you need to guide someone through a journey? You need a map, and your site map should be clear, so that you can see the route your site visitors will take. Before the design starts, make sure you’ve seen the map. A site map is usually a page on the final site too, in case you were worried things were getting too easy.


As in ‘with a good quality CMS you’ll be able to work wonders’

A Content Management System is an interface that you, as the website owner, should be able to access. There are many types of CMS but ultimately they should all allow you to update (manage) your site content and images whenever you need to.  Your CMS will be a web page so that you can administer changes. You’ll be able to log in and add or change whatever you need to.  A good CMS is a crucial part of a modern website as regularly updated content will help your site appear relevant to search engines too.

Look and Feel

As in ‘the look and feel needs to be fresher’

You know what look means, right? You know what feel means, right? So you know what this means! As a blanket term it will include font, design and colour palette. So establish the look and feel early on and the process will be easier for all concerned. If you have a logo or already existing design on paper or online then this can help you work out what kind of look and feel you will be after. You may want to introduce a mood board at this stage, as a point of reference.


As in ‘the problem seems to be with the host provider’

All websites need hosting. If you are a small to medium sized business then you’ll need to find a hosting provider. Most hosting companies have a data centre with a large collection of servers (computers).  They will host many websites, and should have a good back-up system in case of power failure. But keep an eye on their service status; for any provider who offers 99% uptime, this actually translates to 3.65 days of downtime a year. Reliability is king when choosing a hosting provider for your businesses website and it is vital you don’t base your choice on price alone.

Domain name

As in ‘what was the referring domain?’

Your domain name can be a key to your success online.  Domain names are created by the rules of the DNS (domain name system). In the following URL (uniform resource locater), sneezydragon is the second level domain. Then the top level domain is the suffix (could be .com,, .org or many others). Most businesses choose their company name as their domain name, as it’s way that people will identify you.

That’s the end of part one of our web design jargon buster. Look out for part two very soon, and let us know in the comments if there are any terms you’d like to hear in plain English.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

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