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Web Design to English Dictionary

Web Design to English Dictionary

Have you sat in a room with web designers and developers and wondered just what the heck they are talking about?  While you might think it’s an entirely different language, we promise that it’s actually English…well, sort of.

Never fear because we’ve got you covered!  Explore our designer/developer to English dictionary and, in no time at all, you’ll be dazzling all your friends and neighbors with your knowledge of geek speak fluency.  Won’t that be completely rad?

Web Design and Development Terminology 101


API: An application program interface(API) is a set of routinesprotocols, and tools for building software applications.  Essentially it’s a bunch of building blocks developers can use to build things, connect things, and share things.

Accessibility: Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities.  This can include things like color restrictions, larger fonts, or voice readers.

Agile: This applies to both project management and development and essentially means that things are not created in a linear or waterfall method, but rather smaller, incremental bursts that can be connected together.  This allows projects to move quickly and deliver faster.

Back End: This is typically the database and servers whereas what you interact with on your screen is called the front end.  Basically, it’s what you see when you look under the hood.

Backlink: When another website links to your website, it’s called a backlink.  Backlinks can help impact your SEO (see definition below) and unlike backaches, backlinks are something you want.

Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is the measurement in percentage format of how many website visitors view only one page within your website (usually this is the web address they searched for).  A good website has a low bounce rate.

CMS: A content management system (CMS) is a software application that enables an organization to seamlessly create, edit, review and publish copy/text on a website, social platforms or emails.  The benefit is that designated people can update website copy (in Help/FAQs for example) without having to poke at a developer….ahhhhh the power!

CSS: A cascading style sheet is like a template (think Paint by Numbers) that tells developers how to format font, buttons, links, and various design elements on a website.  They are able to give short-cut codes to elements and can quickly format just about anything on a website.  Plus, CSS makes sure that it looks the same all over a website — which is helpful when multiple developers are working on a website.

CTA: A call to action (CTA) is an element added to a webpage that draws a user’s attention and nudges them to do something you want (example: a newsletter sign-up module or take our test module).

DMARC:  This is a major regulation that came down and impacts anyone working with European consumers.  DMARC requirements outline how a company can obtain and store user information.  You can read all the details at

DOM: The Dom is usually used by developers when engaging in a Jedi Mind Meld of code development.  Specifically, the DOM (document object model), is the specification for how objects in a Web page (text, images, headers, links, etc.) are represented and how they associate with each object.

E-Commerce: This means online selling.  If you sell it at a store, then it’s a brick and mortar sale (because you sold it in a store), but if you sell it online, then it’s an online sale or an e-commerce transaction.

Fold: Above the fold is a key section of a Web site for advertisements and banner ads. This term is derived from the newspaper industry, referring to the portion of the front page that is visible with the paper folded.  With a website, it’s the area you can see before you scroll and it’s prime real estate because if users don’t find it entertaining, then they bounce….which impacts your bounce rate (see what we did there?).

Front End: As defined above in the back end, this is what the user sees — it’s the pretty stuff.

Graceful Degradation:  Graceful degradation is the ability of a computer, machine, or network to maintain limited functionality even when a large portion of it has been destroyed or rendered inoperative. The goal is to maintain some control and usage during a catastrophic failure.

HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language is the language most websites are designed and coded in.  HTML is just a way easier way to say it.

iFrame: According to Webopedia, an iFrame is a single frame of digital content that the compressor examines independent of the frames that precede and follow it and stores all of the data needed to display that frame.  In English….it’s a tiny house that stores all the content and code needed to display something within a website (the bigger house) without having to use the same paint color as the bigger house around it (i.e. it doesn’t have to use the same CSS as the rest of the website).

Landing Page: This is a standalone webpage that is created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign and isn’t typically part of the navigation or main website.

Meta Data: Who remembers Cliff’s Notes from high school?  Yep, this is like that but for web crawlers (like Google and Bing).  The summary tells them what your website or blog is about without having to read everything.  This lets the search engine crawlers know if it matches what a user is looking for.

Open Source: Remember in elementary school when we learned that sharing is caring?  This is the developer real-life version of that…true story!  It’s code that developers share with other developers.

Pixels: Pixels are how designers explain location, distance, and size on a website…it’s kind of like a Van Gogh up close (each dot is a pixel).  Forget the Metric System, pixels are super tiny but super important —- if you’re one pixel off you can overlap text or run off the page.

Responsive Design: Responsive design is like the superhero of design and development!  Instead of having to build multiple versions of a website to display on a phone, tablet, and laptop, now you can just build it once and the code will know how to display it on a variety of devices.  Talk about superpowers!

SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a major buzzword that you probably hear marketers and developers spewing all the time.  It’s a way of writing website copy, blogs, labeling or tagging images, and creating metadata that uses keywords to help search engines (like Google and Bing) find information.  A website that is fully optimized has a better chance of coming up on the first page of search results.

Server Side: This means that the action or code is stored on the client-server versus, let’s say, the Cloud or on a hosted server some other place.

Theme: A theme is a predefined template you can get for websites or social templates.  It outlines everything from colors and fonts to how pages will be laid out.  You can create a theme or purchase one.

UX Designer: UX stands for user experience, which is how a user engages with a website or software.  A user experience (UX) designer is a degree-holding person who has a working knowledge of both web and application design which focuses on user experience.  Creating a website or software based on UX ensures much better engagement and usability rate.

Usability: This means simply, how usable a website, feature, or software is for the end user (the consumer).  The better the usability, the easier it is for the consumer to use and engage with (which is your end goal).

Widget: From a programming or design standpoint, a widget is a generic term for the part of a GUI that allows the user to interface with the application and operating system. Essentially a widget is a bit of code that predefines how something works.  You can download a widget, plug it in or hook it up to code, and boom…you have something created immediately with far less work.  Common widgets people use include newsletter sign-ups, pop-up boxes, and social follow buttons.


Developer and Designer Terms and Definitions. (2018, January 1). Retrieved October 18, 2018, from




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