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Terms You Should Know Before Working with Programmers

Having a dynamic website is a key feature of conducting business today, and this will often involve collaborating with developers. Working with a web developer (also called a programmer or an engineer) can be intimidating, especially if tech isn’t an area that you’re very familiar with. Included below is a list of some of the most common terms a programmer might use; by knowing these definitions, you’ll be much better at holding your own in a conversation with your developer.

Analytics

In regard to websites, there are a few analytics you’ll want to pay special attention to:

  • Page Views: This is the number of times a page on your website is viewed. Page views often correlate directly with revenue, because the more people on your website, the more customers you will have (or if you have advertising space, the more you are paid for hosting ads).
  • Unique Visitors: The number of different visitors your website receives during a set timeframe (this contrasts with Visits, which include repeat visits from the same computer).
  • Bounce Rate: The number of people who visit your website and then leave almost immediately (normally within a couple of seconds). A high bounce rate is considered undesirable.
  • Time Spent on Site: This is normally expressed in seconds and is an average of the amount of time each unique visitor spends on your site. Web developers might also use this as a sign of “engagement”; if your time spent on site is high, it usually means that users are highly engaged with or interested in your website.

Anchor

Refers to an internal link on a website that links to a place on the same page. For example, if you have a lot of content on a particular page, you can make it easier for readers to navigate by having multiple anchor points on the page. It will allow users to explore the page more easily, without having to scroll too much.

Backlink

A link to your website from another website. Having high-quality and -quantity backlinks can make your website more attractive to search engines, which causes you to index higher in search engine results. Backlinks are normally part of an ongoing SEO or marketing campaign, but they should never be abused through link pyramids or by paying others to link to your site.

CSS (Short for Cascading Style Sheets)

This is a type of programming language that is more commonly used to design websites. It allows designers to apply some of the same features to all of the pages of a website in order to ensure a consistent look and feel across all pages. It also aids developers in the time and effort it takes to program large websites with many pages.

Content Management System (CMS)

An interface that allows for easy access to and maintenance of all the content on a website.

Deployment

How new software or programming is made available for general use. Deployment plans are normally multi-tiered and involve some combination of the following steps: release, install and activate, deactivate, adapt and update.

Device Agnostic

This term means that your website can be viewed on any device (such as a mobile phone or tablet) without compromising the user experience. In the world of Web 2.0, any website not designed to be device-agnostic is considered behind the times.

Document Object Model (DOM)

An interface that allows programmers or website maintenance teams to access and manipulate the webpage’s content. It makes it easier to make changes on the website to both content and design.

Domain Name

This is the website address that users type into the address bar to locate your site. Monster.com and Yahoo.com are considered domain names.

Domain Name Service (Commonly Referred to as “DNS”)

The system that converts devices to IP addresses (see below for definition), which in turn allows computers, websites and servers to communicate with one another. DNS servers are essentially what direct users to your website.

DPI (Dots per Inch)

Refers to the screen resolution for a computer. Normally used in conjunction with images to be uploaded to the web. In general, images online do not need to have as high of a DPI as images to be printed. Also referred to as “resolution.”

Environments

The physical location where the code or software is being developed, deployed or used. There are three type of environments used in software and web development:

  • Testing: This is where the software or code is tested. It is normally an environment that simulates the end user’s environment by testing how the software functions and by looking for bugs.
  • Staging: An environment that most closely resembles one that the software or code will be used in once deployed. This is considered the final state before deployment, where final testing, debugging and vetting of the software are done.
  • Production: Where software, websites and applications are deployed for general use. The program should work flawlessly once deployed in the production environment.

Favicon

The small icon that is normally present to the left of the website URL in the address bar.

Front End v. Back End

A website, software or other piece of code and how it will be presented to the end user is considered the front end; this is normally the aesthetically pleasing version or the end result.

Back End refers to what most developers and programmers deal with when writing code or programming; it is the more technical version of the site and is not normally meant for the end user to interact with or see.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

One of the most basic web programming languages. HTML has most recently been replaced by XHTML.

Hyperlink

Links a snippet of text to another location on the web, whether internal (within the current website) or external (another website entirely).

Image ALT Tag

Since search engines cannot “read” images, it is important that these images have some type of text associated with them. An Image ALT Tag is the text that either describes or is connected with the image so that search engines can find certain keywords and information on a page, even one that is heavy with graphics. Image ALT Tags are not normally visible to the everyday user; instead, they’ll typically only appear on the page if the user hovers over the image with his or her mouse for an extended period of time.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)

Numerical representation of a computer or device that is connected to the internet or interacting with a network.

Java v. JavaScript

Both are programming languages; however, only one can stand on its own. Java is a standalone language that can be used to create applications. Java must be compiled into machine language so that it can be executed by a computer.

JavaScript is a text-based language that is inserted into HTML and then run through a web browser. JavaScript is easier to change and manipulate, as it uses HTML to function and does not function on its own.

Manual Testing

The act of testing software from the end user’s perspective. This testing process is time-consuming, and testers often follow a written test plan to ensure that they try all of the different features and functions of the software.

Meta Tag

Used within the coding on a webpage to more easily organize the information. They are not normally visible to the user; however, developers find it easier to organize their code with meta tags. The most common meta tags are:

  • Description
  • Keyword
  • Author
  • Refresh

Meta tags make it easier for subsequent web designers or IT personnel to make changes to your website and to understand what has been done before.

Navigation

How users move around your webpage. Navigation can refer to menus, hyperlinks and anchors. Easy-to-use and logical website navigation is considered the norm.

Open Source

Basically the web developers’ answer to common use. Open-source codes or programs are those that are free for developers to incorporate into their own code. If a code or software program is open-source, any programmers or developers are welcome to use it without having to pay royalties or other fees.

Permalink

Short for “permanent link,” which can be used to bookmark a particular blog entry. Since blogs tend to change frequently, it’s important for each post to have a permalink so that it is easy to reference and locate.

Quality Assurance (QA)

The process of evaluating, testing and reporting any issues in design or function for any product or website. QA involves many steps, including end-user testing, documentation, back-end review and more.

Top-Level Domain

Refers to the extension for your website, such as “.com.” Other common top-level domains include:

  • .net
  • .org
  • .gov
  • .jobs
  • .tv
  • .edu
  • .mil

Read more about the new top-level domain rollout of suffixes, such as “.books” and “.music” here.

Unit Testing

The practice of testing certain pieces or “units” of code to ensure it works as expected. Unit testing enables programmers to test code function and logic and makes it easier to correct, as it is simpler to pinpoint a problem in a small bit of code.

XHTML (Extensive Hypertext Markup Language)

Sometimes referred to as HTML 4, XHTML is the newest online programming language that allows developers to create websites that are accessible across multiple platforms, including mobile. XHTML is now considered best practice in web development.