Below is a list of terms and gobbledygook that gets thrown about by the web-savvy and should be in your vocabulary if you are a part of the web design community. I’ve tagged them from (•) – you definitely need to know this if you want to be a part of the discussion – to (•••), you need to know this if you want to impress with your geek factor.

Anything missing or anything wrong? Then please tweet me at @andy_grogan


Abbreviation element (•••)
HTML code is used with the title attribute to signify the use of an abbreviation. It allows screen readers to spot abbreviations; instead of trying to read the abbreviation, it reads out the full title.
For example: <abbr title=” The A to Z of Web and UX Design”>A2Z</abbr>.

Above the fold(•)
The part of the web page is visible on-screen before the user scrolls down. Originally used with reference to where the newspaper would be folded and placed on a news stand. The visible part of the paper (above the fold) is what sells the paper. Anything above the fold on a website needs to be good enough to make the user scroll for more.

Sometimes referred to as Universal Design. Refers to the organizing of web content in such a way that it is easily accessible to all users, specifically users with disabilities. Defined by the W3C, federal funded sites (like universities) need to adhere to the guidelines of accessibility. See The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) (•••)
ADSL technology is a high speed data connection generally using copper telephone wire. It is geared for a maximum of 8 Mbps downstream and 640 kbps upstream flows. On top of that it supports the normal telephone service

Affiliate program(••)
On the Web, an affiliate program is a system whereby referrers/affiliates are financially rewarded for referring business to suppliers, usually through a link on their site.

AJAX (•••)
AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a way to harness the power of JavaScript and XML to enhance interactivity in web pages.

Alt attribute(•)
This is used to specify alternate text for an image. It is specified inside the IMG tag in HTML, the alt attribute contains the alternate text and is displayed inside the image placeholder while the page is loading. There is also a tool-tip will also display the text from the alt attribute (alt text).

Anchor Text(•)
This is a link on your page that links to somewhere else on a page 9often below the fold)
anonymous FTP (anonymous File Transfer Protocol)(••)
Anonymous visitors can download or upload files to and from the anonymous FTP server. This can be handy when sharing specific files to the general (anonymous) public

Anti-aliasing reduces jaggedness on the edges of an image, providing a smooth transition from one color area within the image to the next color area in the same image

Apache (•••)
Apache is an open source Web server that is compatible with Unix systems as well as Microsoft Windows and Novell NetWare.

Applet (••)
An applet is a (small) Java program that is used by other software, such as the browser, to deliver a certain function.
ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network)(••)
ARPANet was the forerunner to the Internet (1960 and 1970). ARPANet was created by the U.S. Department of Defense and was used to link computers operating different systems in different locations.

Array (•••)
In programming, an array is an index of data values. In PHP, for example, an array contains a number of variables.
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)(••)
This standard is applied world-wide by computer programmers. ASCII encodes all the upper and lower-case Latin numbers, letters, punctuation and more. A set of 128 standard ASCII codes present a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 to 1111111

ASP (•••)
ASP (Active Server Pages) is a Windows-based server-side scripting language used for creating dynamic content.
In HTML, an attribute is a characteristic of a tag. An IMG tag, for example, could include attributes that specify the height and width of the image.

auto-exit (••)
A text box in which the input focus automatically moves to the next control as soon as a user types the last character.


Business to business. A site is a b2b site when it focuses on selling to other businesses, not to end users. An example is

Business to customer. As opposed to a b2b business which sells to businesses, a b2c business focuses on selling directly to the customer or end user. An (ultimate) example is – see elsewhere in this book.

The back-end of a web site can refer to two things.
Firstly, if you have a HTML site, the back-end is all the files and images and code that only the web developer sees. It can be the site on the developers computer before he uploads it to the server, and he can access the files and change them.
Secondly, if you have a CMS, the back-end is a site where you can control another site (the front end) that is your true website. Through this website you can add, change or delete pages and posts on the front end.

A link from another web site to yours. The number and quality of the backlinks you have pointing to your site has an effect on your search engine rankings. here are services that offer a link service where backlinks can be obtained.

The maximum amount of data that a connection can transfer. Web hosting companies generally limit the allowed bandwidth per account per month, for example, a web site may transfer 1000GB of data per month, after which a cost is incurred.

banner blindness(•)
This is the effect of people ignoring banner advertisements regardless of how intrusive they are, because they focus on text content. Banner ads have a significantly lower click through rate and conversion rate than context ads.

Below the Fold(•)
This term is a carry-over from newspaper publishing days. In newspaper terms, “below the fold” means content was below the physical fold in the paper. In web design terms, “below the fold” refers to the content that needs to be scrolled to, to be seen.

beta / beta test(•)
A beta test is a phase in software and web development concerning in-house testing and right before the launch. A beta test lets the users know that the site might not be 100% operational and it gives the developer an opportunity to gather error data and user feedback for final tweaks before the launch. Sometimes called a soft launch.

black hat(••)
A name for those SEO techniques that attempt to deceive search engines into ranking a page higher than it really deserves. Black hat techniques usually can work against you as search engines are quick to catch on and either penalize or ignore those pages.

Short for web log, a blog is a web page that functions like a diary or journal. Blogs deal with a specific topic and are often used as a marketing or customer service tool. It encourages interaction with the user, but is high maintenance.

Bot or spider(••)
Short for “robot”. A program that surfs the Internet, surfing from one page to the next by following links just like a human would. The spider’s job is to collect information from and about web sites to facilitate its web search or other reason.

Bounce Rate(•)
A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages. This can be a great indicator of how good a website’s UX is, as well as an indicator of the quality of the site’s content. A very high bounce rate is a bad thing.

BRD (•)
A business requirements document. This is a document, and could be just a few sentences, that lays down exactly what it is you want to achieve with your website.

A navigational element at or near the top of the page showing the path within the site from the homepage to the current page. For example:
Home > A to Z > Web and UX Design > eBook
This is a handy navigational tool where the user can back up, and get higher in the sites hierarchy.

broken link(•)
A link that points to a page or resource that does not exist. A broken link can produce a “404” error (not found). It is smart to make sure your 404 error message is well crafted, and is often just a re-direct to a sitemap or the home page.

A browser is software used to access web pages. Examples include Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Not all browsers display web pages in exactly the same way, so web developers routinely test their work in various browsers before delivering to the client.


Cached files are those that are saved or copied (downloaded) by a web browser to your hard disk, so that the next time that user visits the site, the page loads faster. Clearing the cache can help in solving problems with a web page.

CAPTCHA consist of an image or some scrambled letters and numbers that are impossible for a computer to read. The user must then enter those letters into a field on a form. The goal is to reduce form Spam by making the letters unreadable to robots, but readable to humans

CTA (•)
Call to Action. You want the user to do something so make sure he knows how and what. This is usually a button or link or a form. Make it more prominent than the rest of the content, clear and functional. A good example is – don’t call a button “submit” – but call it what it does – for example “download the book” or “subscribe to the newsletter”. Submit is vague and open to misinterpretation.

Case-sensitive systems differentiate between uppercase and lowercase. “ABC” and “abc” are not the same thing on a case sensitive system. MS Windows are not case-sensitive (help.htm and HELP.htm are treated as the same file) while Linux are case-sensitive. It’s good practice to always use one system – I use lower-case in all file names.

cascading menu (•)
A sub-menu of a menu,(is also referred to as a hierarchical menu, child menu, or sub-menu).

CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programs/scripts run on the server and are usually designed to add functionality to a web site.

Client-side refers to scripts that are run in the users browser, instead of from a server (as in server-side scripts). Client-side scripts are generally faster to interact with, though before they are downloaded, they can take longer to load.

Cloaking is where the web site serves different content to different users, based on their IP. Cloaking can be used to serve the real site to human visitors and different content to search engine spiders. When detected, a cloaked site is usually penalized and may be even be banned from the search results

A cluttered page is a page where the design elements (navigation, images, text) are bunched together so tightly that the user has trouble finding what they came looking for. Clutter can also refer to the content. Remember the mantra SSCC – clutter is to be avoided. More is NOT more.

CMS (•••)
Short for content management system. See the section CMS in this book. It rocks.

comments (•••)
Comments refers to notes entered into the code of the site to make the code more human-friendly. This helps with debugging or when your developer leaves for a month vacation in Thailand and you need someone else to understand his badly written code.

The content of a web site refers to all the elements (text, images, sound etc.) that make up the web site, but not the layout elements such as the background or navigation links.

context menu (•)
The menu of commands that appears on right-click (PC) or option click on the Mac.

contextual (••)
Specific to the conditions in which something exists or occurs.

contiguous selection (••)
A selection that consists of a set of objects that are logically sequential or adjacent to each other (also referred to as range selection). For example, when selecting a color in Photoshop, let’s say black, all the black is selecting when you click on a black pixel if you have selected non-contiguous, while only the black pixels touching each other are selected in contiguous.

conversion rate(•)
Conversion rate (CR) refers to the percentage of web site visitors that do what you want them to do. For example buy a product or sign up for a service. This is an extremely important factor in measuring the ROI of a web site. Your aim should always be to increase the web site CR.

A cookie is a small text file that a web site saves on a user’s computer. The cookie stores information about that user and what he does. On the user’s next visit to the same web site, the web site retrieves the cookie to access the information. Cookies are useful for saving bits of information like user preferences.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is a style sheet language that determines the look of a web page. Web sites can be built without it gives the web developer control on how the content is displayed. Site-wide style changes can be performed by changing the one style sheet rather than every page individually.

CSS Framework (•••)
A CSS framework is a collection of CSS files used as the starting point to make XHTML and CSS web sites quickly and painlessly. They usually contain CSS styles for typography and layout.

CTA (••)
A Call to Action – An example is a button that states what will happen when you click on it, for example – “download this file” or “register”. A good CTA helps the user experience.


Databases are typically used to store information like user account information, product information etc. Content management systems dynamically generate sites based on the data in a database.

dedicated server(••)
A dedicated server is a web server that is used to host one web site only. This may have advantages for security and speed.

deep linking(•)
Linking directly to pages within a site, other than the homepage. In the majority of cases deep linking to someone else’s domain is acceptable, but there are sites that do not allow deep linking, preferring that all traffic go via the homepage.

Depreciated elements, attributes or tags are ones that have become obsolete. These elements will eventually stop working as newer web browsers stop supporting it.

Stands for Dynamic HyperText Markup Language. DHTML fuses XHTML (or any other markup language), the DOM, JavaScript (or other scripts), and CSS (or other presentation definition languages) to create interactive web content.

Dithering is used to approximate colors by combining pixels of different colors side by side. This reduces the file size but may also cause some weird effects, especially in blends. In that case, consider a .jpg as an alternative to .gif (•••)

Stands for Domain Name Service (alternately Domain Name System or Domain Name Server). It’s the thing that converts IP addresses into domain names. When someone put your domain name into their web browser, the DNS servers translate the domain name to the IP address and point the browser to the correct web server.

A declaration at the top of an HTML document specifying the syntax used in the rest of the document. It is possible to publish an HTML document without declaring the DOCTYPE, but doing so could cause serious display problems especially if CSS is used.

A domain name is a name by which a web site or web server is identified, for example Domains can include letters, numbers and hyphens only.

domain extension(•)
The last bit of the domain name, for example “.com”, “.net” or “.org”. There are hundreds of different domain extensions, including country-specific domain extensions such as “” for the UK, “” for Australia etc.

drag-and-drop operation (•)
A technique for moving, copying, or linking an object by dragging. The destination determines the interpretation of the operation.

drop-down combo box (•••)
A standard Windows control that combines the characteristics of a text box with a drop-down list box.

drop-down list box (•••)
A standard Windows control that displays a current setting, but can be opened to display a list of choices.

drop-down menu (•)
A menu that is displayed from a menu bar.

dynamic text field (••)
A text field that displays changing text, most often used in conjunction with a progress bar in order to indicate progress.

Adobe Dreamweaver is a popular and powerful web development program. It is the program the high-end program of choice when developing a site in code like HTML, as opposed to a CMS package.

dynamic web site (•••)
A web site that writes to and/or reads from a database and/or a web site where the content changes based on user inputs. See CMS.


A collective name for commercial activity on the Internet.
E-commerce web sites are web sites that sell products or services Online, requiring a payment gateway and a shopping cart.

Elastic Layout(••)
An elastic layout is one that uses percentages and ems for widths paired with a max-width style to allow the site layout to stretch when font sizes are changed.

elevator pitch(••)
A sales pitch – short enough to tell it to someone in an elevator. In web design the “elevator pitch” is used on landing pages where the aim is to get the user’s attention and make them click through to the longer version.

Em is a unit of measurement for sizing fonts and other elements within a web page relative to the item’s parent element. A 1em font is equal to the point size for the font already defined in the parent element (2em would be twice the current size).

email link(•)
A link that opens the users default email program to send an email to the address in the link. The syntax is “mailto:” in front of the target, which in this case would be the email address.

Embedded Style(••)
An embedded style is a CSS style written into the head of an XHTML document. It is not on a separated file that is referenced by the web page. It only has an effect on the elements on that page, instead of site-wide as a separate CSS file does. Style in an embedded style sheet will override styles from the linked CSS file.

end user(•)
In web design, the end user is the person(s) whom the site is built for. This can be everybody, or you might have designed you site for a specific demographic, like seniors, or teenagers.

entry page(•)
The entry page is the first page the user sees when following a link to the site. This is often the homepage, but a link can point to any page on the site. This is slightly different from a landing page, as a landing page is crafted to be the first page a person sees, while an entry page could be any page.

Extensible Markup Language (•••)
Otherwise known as XML. XML is a markup language used for writing custom markup languages. It serves as a basic syntax that allows different kinds of computers and software to share information without having to go through a conversion.

external link(•)
A link that takes the user off the current site, to a page on another site.

External Style Sheet(••)
This is a CSS document that is written in a separate, external document. It can be linked to by multiple HTML/XHTML pages, which means changes made to the style sheet will have an effect on all the pages linked to it without having to change each page individually.

eye candy(•)
Calling a web site “eye candy” can be a compliment, but it can also imply that the web site over-designed at the cost of functionality.

eye tracking(••)
An eye tracking device monitors the movement of the pupil to determine where on the page the subject looks at. This information can then used by the web designer to improve the page layout.


A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is a list of questions, and the answers, that users often asks. Kind of obvious but actually its very useful. The question is followed by either the answer or a link to the answer. Linking to the answer is a better strategy (but more work) as that generates additional, content-rich, focused pages that can be used as search engine fodder. Also, FAQ’s will help reduce expensive calls and emails.

Favicons are small (usually 16×16 pixels, but can be 32×32 pixels), customizable icons displayed in most browsers next to the web address. They’re are .ico, .gif or .png file formats. This is usually a logo or some identifier.

FBKS (Failure Between Keyboard and Seat) is a funny, shorthand way of saying that the problem is “user error”.

first to market(•)
When a company works on overdrive to be first to market. This does not necessarily mean a launching, but rather being the first to gain users/customers in the absence of any competition.

fixed width(••)
A fixed width layout means that the width of the site is fixed to a specific pixel value, as opposed to a fluid width layout where the site width is specified as a percentage. The benefit of a fixed width layout is that the site content is always displayed the same, regardless of the user’s monitor resolution. The disadvantage is that it can limit the devices on which the site can be viewed. See responsive design or elastic layout.

Adobe Flash is a multimedia program and plug-in used extensively in web design. It is most often used for its animation capabilities. At the moment Flash is a waning technology, mainly due to its not being available on the iPhone or iPads, and not being supported by some browsers.

The fold is a term carried over from newspaper design and pagination (where the fold referred to the physical fold in the paper).See “below the fold”. There are varying opinions on how important the fold is in web design.

Font Family(••)
The font family tag generally lists multiple fonts to be used, and usually ends with the generic font category (such as “serif” or “sans-serif’).

A function of HTML where the user enters data into form fields and usually sends the form using a “Submit” or “Send” button.

form validation(••)
Form validation (or more correctly, form field validation) forces a user to fill out all required fields in a web form. See “error messaging” in this book.

Font Style(••)
In CSS, the font style refers solely to whether a font is italic or not. Other font versions can be achieved with the “text-decoration” style

Font Weight(••)
The font weight refers to how thick or thin (bold or light) a font looks.

To be avoided, in HTML the developer can subdivide the page into separate frames. However, pages cannot be bookmarked, some browsers cannot display frames at all and search engines might have a hard time indexing framed content.

The front-end is your website as your user sees it. The front-end is the opposite of the back-end. It’s all the elements of a website that a visitor to the site can see.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a way of transferring files across the Net. FTP is often used in web development as a fast and easy way to upload a large number of files to a web server. Designers develop the site locally, then upload the entire directory to the server via ftp.

function (•••)
A function is a section of code that can be called upon from other sections of the code. The main benefit is that code that would otherwise be repeated often in a site can be placed in a function and invoked when needed. This makes for neater code and easier maintenance


gantt chart(••)
Used in web project management, a gantt chart specifies objectives/milestones and assigns target dates to those objectives

ghost site(••)
A web site that remains available Online, but that is no longer being maintained or updated. It may still be informative and useful, but it is no longer being maintained.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is a image format made for the web. The GIF format is limited to 256 colors and supports transparency, which makes it suitable for simple graphics such as logos or buttons, but not for complex graphics such as photos.

glyph (••)
A generic term used to refer to any graphical or pictorial image that can be used on a button or in a message box.

Graphics is a collective name for all the images associated with a web site.

A page on a web site where visitors can enter their names and leave their comments about the site. Due to spaming, usually now taken over by reviews and comments.

GUI (•••)
Short for graphical user interface. Sometimes called the “front end”.


.htaccess (•••)
The .htaccess file is the default directory-level configuration file on Apache servers. Also known as “distributed configuration files.” Configuration directives contained in the .htaccess file apply to the directory in which the file is placed as well as all of its subdirectories. Things like authorization and authentication, rewriting of URLs, cache control and customized error responses can all be specified.

Hexadecimal (•••)
Also referred to a “hex” numbers, they are a base-16 numbering system used to define colors Online. Hex numbers include the numerals 0-9 and letters A-F. Hexadecimal numbers are written in three sets of hex pairs. Because screen colors are RGB (Red, Green, Blue), the first pair defines the red hue, the second pair defines the green hue, and the third pair defines the blue.

Hierarchical menu (•)
See cascading menu.

A hit is a request for a single file from your web server, not a user visiting a page. This also means one page can actually generate multiple hits, as each page generally has more than one file (an HTML file, a css file, images, etc.) Some web bureaus like to quote hits to unknowing customers as this makes it look like it’s getting a whole lot more traffic than it actually is.

home / homepage(•)
The very first page that loads on a web site when only the domain is entered. For example, the homepage of the publishing house for this book is It is not necessarily the landing page or the entry page, but it is important as it acts as an orientation for your site. If the user gets lost, he can always return home to start over again.

Your web site must be “hosted” on a web server. The host is the company that provides the web server.
You could set up your own hosting server, but that is costly and time-consuming compared to hosting your web site with a third-party host. See in this book.

The language used to construct web pages. HTML is often used in conjunction with languages that allow the web developer to add functionality, such as PHP, CSS and JavaScript.

HTML code(•)
HTML code refers to the markup language that is used to build web pages. The term “code” can be misleading has HTML is not a programming language, just basically a list of references and directions.

HTML Tag(•)
Also referred to as an HTML element, an HTML tag is the bit of mark-up that describes how that particular piece of the web page it’s on is formatted.

HTTP (•)
Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between a web browser and a web server.
hyper-link (•)
A link used to navigate between one object and another.

Similar to HTTP, HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol over SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or, alternately, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. A set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between browsers and servers, but this time it’s done over a secure, encrypted connection.


ICO format(••)
The ICO format is used for image icons, like the favicon (favicon.ico) used in web design.

Short for Inline Frame. An iframe is used to display one or more web pages within another normal web page (one that isn’t a frameset page). Often used within websites to display third party pages, like adverts.

image map(••)
An image map is an image on a web site where one or more areas of the image have been turned into a link, as opposed to an image link where the entire image is linked. This involves some code that gives the coordinates of the link area within the image.

An impression is a request for a specific file. This is used as a metric in web advertising as an indication of the number of times a specific advertisement was viewed.
inbound link, See backlink(•)

This refers to the homepage of a web site. The index page (index.HTML, index.php etc) is the page served if no page is specified as default. On this web site, for example, and http://www. both load the index page “index.php”.

information web site(••)
A term used to describe a site that provides static information. Also see static web site.

input focus (••)
The location where the user is currently directing input.

internal link(•)
A link from one page on a domain to another page on the same domain, as opposed to an external link which links to a page on a different domain

internal styles (•••)
See embedded style sheets (•••)

Internet (•••)
Originally designed by the US Military and called ARPANet, the Internet has grown to a global network of interconnected, smaller networks. The Internet facilitates data transfer and digital communication through, for example, email and the WWW. The Web (WWW) was developed at CERN in Switzerland by Tim Berners-Lee.

Internet marketing (•••)
A collective name that groups all activities related to marketing on the Internet, including marketing on the WWW, email marketing etc. Mostly commonly referring to SEM and SEO.

IP address (•••)
Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP or IP address. IP addresses are numerical, consisting of four blocks e.g. 123.45.678.9. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) manages the IP address space allocations globally and delegates five regional Internet registries (RIRs) to allocate IP address blocks to local Internet registries (Internet service providers) and other entities.


jaggies or jagged edges(••)
See anti-aliasing. Jaggies is a nickname given to images that have jagged or pixelated edges where the edges should be smooth.

JavaScript is a client-side scripting language used to create dynamic behavior in HTML documents. Javascript actions can be performed on the page without the need to reload the page. All the major browsers support JavaScript, but the user usually can turn JavaScript off. Be aware that any essential actions on your site, like menus, will then not work.

Describing the action of fixing something in an unconventional but creative way.

JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) format is an image format that is commonly used in web site design. It’s best for contrast rich images that use gradients or that contains a large number of colors, such as photos.


kangaroo code(•)
Messy, unorganized, badly thought out or badly commented code

The spaces between letters. In the word “AN”, the kerning is the small space between the “A” and the “N”. When used in – for example – a logo – a designer will balance the space – for example the right side of the A slopes away from the N and can look uneven. Most fonts come with their own kerning table that specifies what the kerning should be between the variations – for example A and T is different between A and W. This is for every font different.

The term keyword refers to words that potential visitors to a site would use in a search. Well organized and thought out keywords are a crucial component of search engine optimization.

kickback marketing(••)
Marketing where two or more marketers benefit by referring customers between each other. For example, a web designer and developer could work together, referring clients between each other.

kludge (•••)
An operative but usually not very elegant, provisional workaround to a problem.

KPI (••)
KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators are identified when a project starts, that state what needs to be done, when they need to be done and what defines it as having been done. A useful project management tool.


landing page (•••)
The page is where you hope a user enters a web site, and this is not necessarily the home page. Any page on a web site is a prospective landing page in that the user could have clicked on a link from another site or from a search engine directly to any page within the site. A landing page is a page that is specifically designed to make sense to the user when he enters and direct him to where he and you get the ROI/ROUI. Not to be confused with the entry page, which may be a landing or home page (see entry page).

The layout of a page refers to the way that the different elements on the page is designed. The logo, navigation bar, page text etc. are all part of the layout of the page. It’s how everything is laid out.

label (•)
The text (or graphic) that identifies a UI element. Labeling is very important in the UX – consistent labeling helps the user find his way around, while a clear labeling helps with the logic of the structure.

landscape (•)
An orientation where the long dimension of a rectangular area (for example, screen or paper) is horizontal. The opposite is portrait.

A UI element, like text, an image or an area on a web site that can be clicked to open a new web page or functionality.

link authority(••)
A link from a high ranking site in your industry will have a higher value (high link authority) than from a low ranking site.

link checker(•)
A piece of software who’s job is to find broken links in a web site and give the user a report when it find broken links.

link exchange(•)
A link exchange happens when two webmasters agree to link to each other’s web sites.

link farm(••)
This is a site that contains many external links for the purposes of getting a higher rank with the search engines. These days, having a link pointing to your site is of such low quality that it is seldom worth the effort. Linking from to a link farm might be harmful to you as search engines routinely look for link farms and can penalize sites that link to them.

Link juice (••)
Link Juice is the amount of positive ranking factors that a link passes from one page to the next.

link rot(••)
Link rot is the phenomenon of links on unmaintained web sites gradually “dying” as their target pages are deleted or moved.

localization (•••)
The process of adapting software for different countries, languages, cultures, or markets. With localization, ethnographical aspects are taken into consideration, for example color and symbols that have different meanings in different cultures.

long-tail keywords (•••)
Long tail keywords are very specific key phrases. These can be lucrative as the competition for these key phrases are much lower than for more popular search keywords.

look and feel(•)
Referring to the visual appeal of a web site layout. It is more the aesthetic than the actual functionality.

lorem ipsum(•)
Lorem ipsum is a synonym for fake or dummy text or placeholder text. Lorem ipsum usually starts with the words “Lorem ipsum” and consists of scrambled Latin words. It is used to mimic the look of body text in a layout design, without distracting the designer with actual content.


Also known as an auto-responder, it is the capability to send out pre-defined email messages in response to incoming email messages.

mailing list(•)
Also known as a newsletter subscriber list, a mailing list is a list of email addresses of users who subscribed to a particular email newsletter.

Also known as malicious software, it is a term for software designed to infect computers in order to steal data.

manual submission(••)
This is manually entering your web site URL into a search engine submission field in order to submit your site to the search engine. These days manual submission is no longer necessary. Most search engines require that at least one other web site links to yours before they will include your site.

A generic term referring to code. In web design, the markup would be the HTML code.

Meta Data(••)
Meta data is becoming more and more important. Meta data is the data contained in the header that defines the information on the web page that a visitor is currently on. Meta data is contained within meta tags.

meta tag (•••)
A meta tag is an HTML tag that contains meta data specific to the web page. These meta tags are usually the meta description and meta keywords tag.

Like a regular blog, but the posts are short, frequent text updates rather than long articles. Has been largely superseded by Twitter.

milestone page (••)
Like confirmation pages that are used before settings are applied in wizards. They are the pages that inform that the action, like buying a product, is ready to be completed.

A mirror is a site that holds a copy of an existing site. Mirrors are usually set up in an attempt to even the server load over several servers where the site traffic is high.

A moderator (or mod) is someone who takes on the task of editing and checking the user-generated content on a web site. Online discussion forums often have moderators who can edit, delete or move posts, ban users etc.

NCSA Mosaic was the first ever web browser, developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). The NCSA licensed the source code to several companies including Netscape who developed the popular Netscape Navigator browser. Other browsers than came later were Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, Safari among others.

MP3 defines the standard for storing, compressing and transmitting digital sound files. MP3’s most important feature is its compression ratio. MP3 compresses sound files at a ratio of 12:1, making it ideal for the Web.

The MP4 standard was builds on the MPEG format, with additional features added such as VRML support.

Multimedia is a term to cover more than one media type, for example text and images and video. Most web sites today have multimedia as very few use only one media type. However, don’t include different media types just for the sake of it. Singlemedia is fine.


named anchor(••)
A named anchor is a link that links to another section on the same page. Named anchors are used, for example, in FAQ pages, where clicking on a question near the top of the page will jump to an answer further down the page.

nav bar(•)
Short for navigation bar, it is the area of the site that contains the site menu. The menu in the nav bar should link to the area’s most important in your site. A well thought out nav bar will substantially increase site usability.

netiquette (•)
Good Internet etiquette. It’s an unwritten code of conduct that governs interactions between users on the Web. Not followed by everybody, and often needs the interception of a moderator to get things back on track.

Netscape Navigator (••)
Netscape Navigator was a web browser used almost exclusively in the first years of the web. Use of this browser went into decline when Microsoft started bundling Explorer with the Windows operating system. It helped expand the internet as it was a free product and lowered the hurdle to internet access.

not found(••)
Not found (404 error) means that the page the user is looking for, either via an outdated bookmark or broken link for example, does not exist. This is the server response. It is advisable to craft a user friendly 404.HTML document, or even a re-direct to a landing page.

not invented here (••)
When you get “push back” from a team because they don’t know the product, or have a rival product.

NPS (••)
“Net Promoter Score” is a customer loyalty metric developed by (and a registered trademark of) Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company. Customers are surveyed with the question – ‘How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?’ The scoring for this answer is based on a 0 to 10 scale. Promoters are those who respond with a score of 9 or 10. Detractors are those who respond with a score of 0 to 6. Scores of 7 and 8 are passives. NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from Promoters. You need a high NPS.


on-the-fly (•••)
A web page is built on-the-fly when the page is dynamically built as the user loads it in their browser. Most CMS websites are built like this (see CMS is this book). HTML sites are not dynamically built, but are pre-exisiting and directly downloaded to the users browser as is.

one-click shopping(•)
An invention of, one-click shopping permits customers to shop with “one click”, without going through the hassle of a shopping cart.

Open Source(••)
Open source is code of a computer program being made available to the general public to review and edit and make additions. Open source software includes all forms of applications. Open source programs are generally free or very low cost and are developed by a community, sometimes comprised mostly of volunteers. WordPress and Joomla are examples of open-source. Frowned up by software companies that sell their software, these communities have proven to be as stable and long lasting and therefore a viable option.

A browser that runs on most operating systems including MS Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Optimizing a web page commonly refers to improving its search engine ranking. See search engine optimization. A site can be optimized in terms of its download speed or in terms of its functionality – its optimized for its ROI.

outbound link (•••)
Also known as a external link


Padding is used in CSS to specify the gap between the border of an element and the contents of the element. It is considered bad design if text is squished up against a border or a box, so a little padding is desirable. Padding is also a term for unnecessary content – especially text that is added to website just to fill it up. Known also as “content-free content” – this text for text sake should be avoided at all costs.

page impression(•)
One page-view or impression is one request for a web page. A single visitor accessing 5 pages on a web site would generate 5 page impressions or views.

PageRank is Google’s measure for link popularity. It measures the number and quality of links pointing to a site and uses it as part of its ranking algorithm. The higher the PageRank of a site, the better it performs in search engine results pages (SERP)

paid listings(••)
Advertisements displayed with “organic” search listings. Paid listings are paid for by the advertiser.

PayPal enables anyone with an email address to send and receive money over the Internet. It’s an alternative to credit cards and makes it easy for website owners to accept payments on their web sites

permalink (•••)
The “permanent link” allows users bookmark and link to a page where the URL of the page might change for whatever reason.

permission marketing(••)
A new approach to marketing developed by marketing wiz Seth Godin. The idea is that your marketing efforts will be significantly more effective if your audience gives you permission to contact them. The hard part is getting permission by offering them true value in the first place.

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor is a server-side scripting language. It is used in web development to produce dynamic pages.

Pixels are the tiny squares that make up the image on the computer monitor. Monitor resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch)

PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a compression image format used on the web. There is PNG8 and PNG24. PNG24 supports transparency with the background being anti-aliased to the image itself. This is useful for non-square shapes that are placed on different background colors.

A pop-up is a window that appears over the browser window in response to a user action. The pop-ups were largely abused for advertising and now m pop-up blocker utilities are available, making the use of pop-ups largely outdated.

PPC (Pay Per Click) is an advertising algorithm where the advertiser pays only when a user clicks on his advertisement. The amount per click is agreed beforehand.

privacy policy(•)
A page on a web site where the company states what information about users are collected on the site and how the company will use that information. Posting a privacy policy on your web site is good practice.

public domain(•)
Something is in the public domain when the copyright has expired. A lot of information on the web is not public domain so copying and using information should be done with caution.

The “query” is the search term or search phrase entered into the search box.

A file format developed by Apple. It handles all kinds of media like video, image files, sound etc.


radio button(•)
A radio button is a way of selecting something, like ticking a box. Generally used as a way of selecting a single item out of a choice of items.

Most commonly used in search engines, it is the position of the site in a particular search engine, for a specific search phrase. One web page can have more than one ranking, it can rank #1 for the search term “UX” and #5 for “DESIGN”.

raster graphics(••)
A raster image is made up of pixels that are laid out in a grid. Raster images are resolution dependent – the more pixels there are in the grid, the higher the resolution and the higher the image quality and the file size. Examples are JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG. An alternative to raster graphics are vector graphics.

Reach refers to the % of the total audience that the site reaches. For example, if 1 out of every 1,000,000 views on the Web was on ( I wish), then this site would have a reach of 0.0001%.

real estate(•)
Real estate is the usable area seen on someone’s display. The section of the site that is above the fold without scrolling is valuable “real estate”.

reciprocal link(••)
A reciprocal link is were two web site owners agree to exchange links. The hope is that both web sites achieve a small advantage in search engine rankings

A redirect happens when a web page automatically sends users to another web page. The redirect method most commonly used is a “301 redirect”. This shows that the page the user is looking for has moved to the new location.

Referrer (•••)
The website address that your site visitors were on directly before clicking through to your site is called the referring URL or referrer. In other words, it is where your site traffic comes from. This can be used to identify and is used sometimes to compensate traffic driven to your site.

Relevancy (••)
Is when a search engine attempts to measure how relevant pages in its index are to your search phrase and it displays the most relevant pages at the top. Refining the relevancy of a page for a particular search term or search phrase is a significant part of SEO.

Resolution (••)
Measured in dots per inch (dpi), the number of dots/pixels displayed per inch on the computer monitor.

Roam (••)
The ability for a user to move between different computers and have the same user experience on both computers.

robots.txt (••)
The robots.txt file is a file in the root directory of a web site that controls spider access to the site. It can control specific spiders’ access to exact pages on the site.

ROI (•)
A return on investment. If you invest $1000 in developing a website to sell your product, you want to make more of that back in sales.

ROUI (•)
A return on user investment. If you want the user to stay interested, then you want to reward his investment (his free time, or his money).

RSS (•)
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a variation of XML that allows web site owners to syndicate their content for publication on other web sites. This is a great tool of getting links and broadcasting your content. It is also useful to pull in other content from other sites in a dynamic way.


Safari (•)
Safari is Apples web browser. Initially only for use on Apple computers, it now has a Windows version too.

sandbox (••)
A sandbox is a staging area where tests can be conducted before a system goes live. This useful to try out stuff, especially complicated interactions like credit card transactions, before going live.

Scent of information (•••)
The trail of links and labels a user follows to find what he is looking for. The better the site is structured, the better the scent or trail the user can follow.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO (•)
Crafting web pages so that their ranking in search engine results pages increase. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a part of search engine marketing (SEM) which includes PPC marketing, link building etc. SEM, (search engine management) – is another term.

search engine submission (••)
Back in the day this was necessary, but now search engines can find your site quicker than you can submit.

select box (•)
A select box lets the user choose a value from a pre-defined list, rather than letting the user type in a box. This offers consistency and limiting of choice, and with things like place names and spelling.

Semantic Markup (•••)
Here, content is written within XHTML tags that offer context to what the content contains. Basic semantic markup refers to using items like header and paragraph tags, but it can also be used to provide context to web pages in an effort to make the web as a whole more semantic.

SEO (•)
Short for “Search Engine Optimization”. The art of getting your site discoverable by the major search engines.

SERP (••)
Search Engine Results Page. The SERP is the page that a search engine displays in response to a search by a user.

Server-Side (••)
Server-side refers to scripts run on a web server, as opposed to in a user’s browser. Server-side scripts often take a bit longer to run than a client-side script, as each page must reload when an action is taken.

shared hosting (•••)
To cut costs, most websites are hosted on a shared server. It is possible to have a dedicated server, but that generally increases the costs and management responsibilities.

shopping cart (•)
A web site shopping cart gives users somewhere to “put” the merchandise that they want to purchase from the site, ready for check-out at a later date. This is useful when the user may want to buy multiple products.

sitemap (•)
A sitemap is a page within a web site that offers links to all the pages within that web site. It is becoming more common for websites to include a curated site-map in the footer. It also helps search engine spiders to find the internal pages on your web site.

social ads (•)
Social ads are advertisements displayed on social media sites and are determined by your shopping behavior on the social media site.

social bookmarking (•)
A social bookmark is a bookmark that is accessible to the user’s friends.

soft copy (••)
A soft copy of a web site is the actual files – as opposed to a hard copy which would refer to a format such as a PDF or a printout.

source code (••)
The source code of a web site would be all the HTML code, PHP code, JavaScript code etc. that is needed to make the site run.

spaghetti code (••)
Code that is so “tangled” that it is virtually impossible for a developer to make any sense of. A good and regular use of comments is a way to untangle spaghetti code.

spambot (••)
A spambots task is usually to collect email addresses for Spam email campaigns. Webmasters often see a sharp increase in Spam email received once they publish an email address on a site. Avoid having live email address in the source code, and CAPTCHA is a common way to avoid spaming.

splash page (•)
A fancy introductory page to a web site, usually containing multimedia and is generally a marketing message. Use carefully.

SSI (Server Side Include) (••)
Server side includes are small pieces of code that are separate files which are included in the pages of a site.

SSCC (•)
A UX mantra, is it Simple, is it Structured, is it Clear and is it Consistent.

static web site (••)
A static web site displays only static information that does not change based on user inputs.

sticky content (••)
Web site content that give users an incentive to revisit often.

subdomain (••)
A subdomain is a third-level domain that is often used to organize information categories on a web site, often used in the same way as directories. For example, “” could be replaced with “”.

sysop (••)
Short for “system operator”, the name given to a person in charge of a computer network or a specific network resource.


tag (••)
Used in HTML markup to contain HTML code. The information between HTML tags is displayed on the web site.

tag cloud (•••)
A visual representation of the important tags on a particular web page.

template (••)
Templates web sites can be purchased, sometimes for free, and modified to save time in the web development process. Templates are also widely used in CMS systems such as WordPress and Joomla. A designer can create a template site as a basis so that a consistent look and feel can be achieved.

text link (•)
Any hyper-link that consists of text only.

thumbnail (•)
A thumbnail image is a small version of a larger image typically used in image galleries to allow the user to surf quickly through a collection of images. Also a profile picture is often a thumbnail.

title (•)
The page title is displayed in the title bar, right at the top of the browser, and it gives both users and search engine spiders a quick indication of the contents of the page. A good title is very important for SEO.

TLD (••)
The TLD (Top Level Domain) is the extension portion of a domain name, for example “.com” or “.org”.

traffic (•)
Refers to the amount of activity and the number of users on a web site.

tweak (•)
Tweaking a web site is to change the site’s look or performance without doing a major re-design.

two-tier affiliate program (••)
Two-tier affiliate programs get a (smaller) cut when another affiliate they referred sends a customer to the vendor. They are not the direct referrer.

typosquatting (••)
Registering domain names that have common misspellings of popular domains with the intention of cashing in on “typo traffic”.


under construction (•)
Having users go to an “under construction” page wastes their time, they get no ROUI. The alternative is to have a placeholder version of the site while the full site is being developed.

unique users (•)
“Unique users” is a count of the number of exclusive users that accessed a site or a page within the site. For example, if 1000 people visit your site and 300 of those 1000 come back later, your site will have received 1300 visitors, but only 1000 unique users.

upload (•)
Loading content onto the web by FTP or a browser interface.

URL (•)
Uniform Resource Locator is the web site address, for example

usability (•)
Usability refers to the ROUI. How easy is it for the web site visitors can find what they are looking for and achieve a task such as buying a product.

user-generated content (•••)
Web site content that is generated by the people using the site, rather than the owner(s) of the site. Comments on a blog, or product reviews are an example.

USP (•)
Generally for Online sales to happen, a site must have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In other words, there must be a reason for people to buy from that site, rather than from its competitor. is not the only domain registrar (see elsewhere in this book), but they offer domains comparatively cheaply, they have pretty girls on the homepage and they have a fancy domain management area for their customers. Any or all of these can be considered the GoDaddy USP.

UX (•)
User experience, sometimes confused with IA (information architecture), UX is the holistic look at the whole interaction between user and the website. The UX begins before the user even enters the site (he has to find it first), and ends when the user returns for a second visit.


vanilla (••)
In tech circles, vanilla means the simplest possible version of a program or web site.

vector graphics (••)
Vector graphics differ from bitmap or raster graphics in that they are not made up of a grid of pixels. They are computer algorithms that define paths and shapes. The main benefit is that vector graphics are fully scalable and can be very small in size.

viral marketing (••)
Often using social media, viral marketing is a cheap but very effective way of communicating a marketing message.

visit (•)
Used as a metric in web site usage statistics, a visit represents one person accessing the site, regardless of the number of pages the user accessed (pageviews).

visit duration (•••)
The amount of time that any particular visitor spends on a site.
This might give a good meteric about how your site, or specific pages are valued by the visitor.

vortal (•••)
Short for vertical portal. Usually a very specialized website.


W3 (•••)
Short for WWW.

W3C (•••)
Short for World Wide Web Consortium. W3C’s mission is to “lead the Web to its full potential” by developing Web standards.

Web Standards (•••)
Standards are specifications recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium for standardizing website design. The main purpose of web standards is to make it easier for both designers and those who create web browsers to make a consistent user experience across platforms.

WAMP (•••)
WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP) is a development platform that web developers use to create dynamic web sites

Wayback Machine (••)
The Wayback Machine ( is a large archive of web pages, cached since 1997. All those bad design mistakes you made back in the day are achieved and kept for prosperity here at this site..

web application (••)
A program designed to be used in a browser, as opposed to a stand-alone program like Excel or a browser itself.

Wire-framing (••)
The act of sketching out a website with its basic elements, to get a clear view of its structure, without being distracted by branding, content or other UI elements.

wizard (•)
A method of helping a user through a complex task.


XHTML (•••)
XHTML (Extensible HTML) is HTML that rewritten to be compliant with XML rules.

XML (••)
XML (Extensible Markup Language) defines rules for writing other markup languages.

XUL (•••)
XUL (pronounced “zool”) is a user interface markup language developed by the Mozilla Project. Mozilla FireFox is an example of an application written in XUL.


Yahoo! (•)
One of the first search engines and for a while the most popular site on the web. However they lost a lot of ground to Google, mainly because their site was an overly complex, all things to all men, offering of too many options.

YouTube (•)
YouTube ( is a Google owned website that allows users to share videos with a discussion area for each video. Business can start their own video channels and there are other video related offerings. A great place to host a video for your website, embedding code so that it plays on your page.


Z order (•••)
The layered relationship of a set of objects, such as windows, on the display screen.

Zine (••)
Short for magazine, on the Net it usually refers to an electronic magazine – more commonly known as a newsletter. Zines are typically transmitted via email.

ZIP (•)
ZIP is a Windows-based compression format which is useful for grouping and compressing a file or a collection of files. ZIP files can also contain directory structures. It is often useful to zip a file when emailing as this makes sure the file will not become corrupted. The zip file can also be password protected.

zone file (••)
A zone file contains the information needed to translate a domain name into an IP address.