Many companies are looking to perform a website redesign in the near future. However, embarking on the website redesign process can seem daunting due to the technical jargon that is used on a daily basis.
If you are considering a website redesign, there are quite a few terms that project managers, designers and developers use that you may not be familiar with. Hopefully this article will help you feel more prepared as you begin to meet with prospective agencies for your next big redesign.
Web Terms Marketers Need to Know
301 redirect – A permanent redirect from one URL to another, usually from your old website to the new website. (e.g.“website.com/about-us” now redirects visitors to “website.com/our-company” on the new website.)
404 – An error page that a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your website. Usually this is due to a visitor mistyping the URL or attempting to access a page that has been deleted from the site. An effective 404 error page should communicate why the page doesn’t exist and what users can do next.
Accessibility – Website accessibility concerns making a website accessible by people with disabilities. All websites built should follow guidelines outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
ALT tag – Alternate descriptive text that is displayed inside the image placeholder while the page is loading or is read by a screen reader. ALT text plays a role in optimizing a website for ADA compliance, helps with SEO ranking, and overall web accessibility.
Breakpoints – The points at which a website’s content and design will adjust to accommodate various screen sizes to provide the user with the best possible layout to view the content on any device. In responsive design (see term below), breakpoints are often defined by common device widths, such as smartphone, tablet, and desktops above 1024px.
Caching – A cache is a temporary data storage mechanism that aids in site speed by storing relevant information on your computer the first time you visit a website. Then, your computer does not have to reload that information each time you access the site again. Oftentimes when you make small changes to your website, you may have to clear the cache in order to see the changes on the front end.
Call to Action (CTA) – Specific text, image, banner or button that uses action-oriented language to urge a visitor on a website to act. CTAs are designed to move a visitor from one page to the next and persuade them to take an expected, predetermined action. (e.g. Download a Whitepaper, Register for a Webinar, Contact Us, Learn More, etc.).
Cookies – A small text file that includes an anonymous unique identifier and visit information that is sent to a browser from a website and stored on a visitor’s computer hard drive. This data can provide information about who visits the website, how often they visit, what parts of the site they visit the most and their browsing preferences.
Content Management System (CMS) – A software system that is used to edit the content on your website. This allows you to log in to the “back end” of your website to 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 code.
Conversion – When a user takes a specific desired action related to online marketing and lead generation. This includes completing a web form, submitting a request for information, subscribing to a newsletter or making an e-commerce purchase.
CSS – Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are the code that developers use to designate how a web page should be presented to visitors. It formats the look and feel of your website, and sets global styles for fonts, colors, buttons, hover states, images, menus, etc.
DNS – Domain Name Servers (DNS) are like the Internet’s version of a phone book, controlling your domain name’s website and email settings. When a user visits your website address, the DNS settings control which server to point them to.
Domain – The name of the website that people type into a browser to visit it. For example, our domain is circlesstudio.com.
Favicon – A small icon image, often a company logo, that displays on the title bar or tab of a browser.
Hosting – The web servers where your website files are housed, served, and maintained. A web server is a computer running web server software connected to the internet that allows visitors to access a website through an Internet-connected web browser or mobile device.
HTTPS – Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the primary protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website. HTTPS typically uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate to encrypt all communications between your browser and the website for added security.
Information Architecture (IA) – The information blueprint and navigation of a website. It typically includes a site map, wireframes (see definition) for each page and any necessary notations regarding navigation, content and features that will be included on the site.
Landing page – Technically any page of your website that a user lands on directly from a search result, marketing email, social media post or online advertisement, but it is typically a standalone page created for a specific campaign. They are designed with a call to action, with the goal of converting leads (e.g. getting visitors to fill out a form, download an eBook, etc.).
Lazy loading – A development optimization technique that defers loading of images and video until they are needed as a user scrolls down the page.
Meta Tag – Important for SEO ranking, a meta tag is an HTML tag that is used by search engines to index a site. Meta tags store information about a web page, such as its description, author and copyright. Search engines use this information to categorize websites and display information in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Navigation – The navigational elements that appear on a website and direct the user throughout the site. While this primarily refers to the “menu bar” located at the top of a website or along either side, it can also include textual links in the “footer” at the bottom of the page.
Page speed – A measurement of the length of time it takes to load all the content on a specific web page.
Page template – A unique page layout for page(s) of a website. On average, a website has 8-10 page templates. For example, the homepage and contact page of a website look different and contain different elements, therefore they are two different page templates.
Plugin – Software apps that “plug in” to a Content Management System such as WordPress to allow you to add new features and extend the functionality.
Propagation – DNS propagation is a term used to describe the time period required for changes to your domain name server’s settings to take effect. It may take as long as 48 hours for internet service provider nodes across the world to update their caches with your updated DNS information. If you are launching a new website on a different web server, some visitors might still be directed to your old server (website) for a period of time, while others will see the new website shortly after the change.
Registrar – The company used to register your domain name. Some examples include GoDaddy or Network Solutions.
Responsive design – A website that adjusts to the screen it is being viewed on, whether desktop, mobile or tablet. Media queries are used to find the resolution of the device the website is being displayed on, and then flexible images, fluid grids and the site menu are adjusted to fit the screen.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO concerns increasing your site’s likelihood of being served up to web browsers that query relevant keywords. SEO ranking can be improved by helping search engines understand the information on your website in order to rank higher in organic search results. This includes having title tags, meta descriptions and ALT tags for images on your website.
SERP – Stands for Search Engine Results Pages. These are the pages served up to users when they query a search term in a search engine, such as Google.
Slider – A rotating banner of images that is sometimes placed on the homepage of a website. It is a “slide show” type format that can highlight different content and include images or video.
Site map – A document that shows a hierarchical blueprint of a website’s pages and content. This is usually one of the first steps in a website redesign, as it is important to know what content is needed on a website before design begins.
SSL certificate – SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security protocol necessary for establishing encrypted communication between a web browser and a website. When a site has an SSL certificate, HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) appears in the URL and the site displays as “secure.” The details of the certificate can be viewed by clicking on the lock symbol which appears next to the URL in the browser bar.
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 wireframing and copywriting to design and programming—affects the user experience.
Wireframe – A visual guide to show the structure and content of a web page without any design elements. This helps to focus on the layout and hierarchy of content, without being distracted by design.
WYSIWYG – Stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” It’s the interface inside a CMS that automatically applies styles to text and graphics and allows the user to see what the content will look like on the front end. This allows marketers to edit content in their website without coding knowledge.
Learning the vernacular
Being familiar with this vocabulary will aid in productive conversations with your website design agency, whether undergoing website maintenance or a complete redesign. While your agency will certainly help you through the process, knowing these words can help make the process smoother and save time and money.