Sometimes my clients are unsure what a certain term means when I am talking about websites, or a certain technology. I decided to create this page to explain some of the more common terms that have to do with the internet and website design.
In order for your website to be on the internet, it needs to hosted somewhere. The easiest way to explain this is to imagine all of your website files as regular paper files. The hosting company takes your files, and puts them into a server, which is like putting your paper files into a filing cabinet. One they do this, people can see your website online. You pay the hosting company monthly or yearly to keep the files online. For more info, visit my page on hosting and domains.
Click here to visit my recommended hosting company, who I use for all my websites.
A domain name is the actual name of your website. The domain name of this website is "BeantownDesign.com". A domain name needs to be registered with a hosting company. For more info, visit my page on hosting and domains.
Click here to visit my recommended hosting company, who I use for all my websites.
A static website is a site that looks the same to every downloader. Most smaller sites are static sites. The files are created, and uploaded ready for users to download and view, just the way they were created. This is different than a dynamic site, which changes via technologies such as PHP. These dynamic sites pull pieces from different areas to create the page you are looking at. Examples of this are blogs, news sites, or email sites such as Yahoo or Gmail.
This stands for "Uniform Resource Locator". To keep it simple, this is the "Web Address", or the "Domain Name". Example URL ~ "BeantownDesign.com"
Most people have heard of search engines before. Google is an example of a search engine. They have "robots" that go over all the content of your website, and decide how and where your website should be displayed when somebody types a keyword into Google searching for something.
This stands for "search engine optimization". Everyone wants to show up as high in Google as they can. This is easier said than done. There are certain techniques to creating a website that will help the search engines read your website, and hopefully put it higher up than your competition. One of the most important things to keep in mind with SEO is that "content is king". What this means is that search engines like websites that have a lot of well written content. So make sure you don't skimp out on writing the content for your website. If you can't write yourself, it's worth hiring a writer to create quality content for your site.
This is the amount of viewers that go to your website. This is another thing that search engines look at when deciding how important your website is, and how high up it should be listed. If you have a lot of users, (traffic), to your website it must be important, so the engines will list you higher than a website that nobody is going to. This is why promoting your website, as well as keeping new and up to date content on it is so important.
This stands for "File Transfer Protocol". Simply, this is the process that I will use to transfer the files from my computer to your hosting company so that they can put them online for everyone to see and use.
HTML or XHTML
I won't go too deep into this. XHTML stand for "Extensible Hypertext Markup Language". Websites are created with code, and this is the code that creates most pieces of it. Don't worry if you know nothing about this, that's for me to know!
Cascading Style Sheets are created to create the "look and formatting" of a website page. Colors, fonts, placement of items are all done with CSS.
A favicon is the small image located next to the url in the browser bar. These are nice to have, because when people bookmark your site this image shows up in their bookmark bar, making your link stand out from the other links in the bar.
A blog is a website with an author or even multiple authors. Articles are created on blogs, so the content of a blog website is always changing. These are more complicated than a regular "static site", because there are a lot of different pieces being pulled together to make the site work. The articles can usually be sorted by categories, dates, etc. Blogs are great for people who want to be able to update their own website, write articles, etc. Blogs are good for search engines because they have a lot of new, fresh content, which is important for SEO. An example of a blog is my personal design blog, WebDesignAndSuch.com
A widget is a small application that has been built and can be used on different websites, such as a blog. The widget pulls information from somewhere else, to be viewed and used on your site. They are tools such as clocks, auction-tickers, stock market tickers, daily weather reports, etc.
Twitter.com has become mainstream within the last couple years. This is a simple website that allows you to create your own account. You then update what you are doing throughout the day. You can post links to articles or websites, follow your friends, etc. When you write a status update to be posted to your page, that is called sending a "tweet". Your twitter page allows you to change the colors of the links, boxes, etc. A custom background for your page can be created, which is one of the many website services I offer.
Your twitter feed can be built into your website, if you look on the bottom of this page you will see an example of this. The last update I made on my twitter account will be shown below. Feel free to ask me more info about building this into your site, as there are a lot of different styling options available. The good thing about doing this is it gives people the feeling that your site is always fresh, as they see posts that you made only minutes before live on your website, without you ever even editing the code of your site!
Stock Images ~ Stock Art
As a website is created, lots of times photos or illustrations of certain things are needed. Sometimes the client has all the photos needed for the site, but usually not. In this case, stock art is used. This is a service that professional photographers and artists use to sell the rights to their art. I use IstockPhoto.com for this. The site is great because I can search for whatever I need, buy different sizes of the art, and use it on the website. The art is pretty inexpensive, and gives a great professional look to the finished site.
Photoshop is a program used to create art, edit photos, etc. When I say "Photoshop Comp", I am referring to a flat image that I will show a client to approve the look and design of a piece of art. Imagine looking at your computer screen, but without being able to click on anything. The purpose of this phase of the design process is that there is a lot of work put into coding a website once the design is approved. It would be a waste of time to code a design into a working website, just to find out that the client doesn't like the way it looks. More details on my website design process can be found here.
If you have used Ebay in the past, you have most likely used Paypal to handle the money transactions. Paypal is a secure service set up to protect both the sellers and purchasers during transactions. Setting up a business account with paypal is easy, making it possible to sell items right from your website, securely. When a user clicks on the "Buy Now" button on your website, they are brought to paypal to finish the transaction. This is an easy way to allow people to use credit cards to purchase your items. Contact me for more details of this process if this is something you need on your website
If you've worked on Macs and PCs before, I'm sure you saw some differences. The main difference between the two is the operating system. On a PC it is most likely Windows XP or Vista, and on a Mac is most likely OSX. It's important to update your operating systems, so you get all the latest features and security.
I can't say enough how important updating your browser version is. A browser is what is used to show the internet on your computer. Many people use Internet Explorer, others use Firefox. There are even other browser available, such as Opera, Safari, and Chrome. As technologies on the internet change, the browsers need to change to support these technologies. If you are using an older browser just because you don't feel like updating, you are only hurting yourself, and your ability to use websites to the fullest. One of the most important reasons to update browsers is to make sure you have the latest security features available. I HIGHLY recommend using Firefox, which is available for both Macs and PCs.
Download Firefox Here.