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Web Design Glossary

The web design glossary on this page will help you understand many terms related to web design, web development and IT terms that are confusing to you. We will update the web design glossary as often as we can with new words and as we speak to more customers and receive more input from website visitors we will add to the glossary.

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Glossary

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ASP.NET

ASP.NET is a technology platform developed by Microsoft.  The .net platform allows a website to implement what is called "server side code".  This means that a website can run programs and retrieve information from a database on the webserver hosting the asp.net web pages.  The ASP.NET platform is a small part of the Microsoft .Net framework.  The .Net framework allows programmers to easily create applications that can be used both on the web and on the desktop without having to radically alter the way that they do things.  Before ASP.NET programming a website and programming a desktop application were very different and so developing a program for business that had both a web component and a desktop component was much more expensive and harder to maintain.  All of Fox Development's web applications use the ASP.NET platform.

Blog

A blog is a contraction for the words "web log" and can be about just about anything you can imagine.  A blog usually allows one to create categories to organize topics and includes something known as a track back URL.  The purpose of the track back is to allow you to provide a link to another site or article on the web that you may be writing about, track backs can also be used to link one blog article you wrote to another blog article you may have written in the past.  The track back allows visitors to read more about the topic. 

Most blogs also allow readers to leave comments about the blog article, adding more content to the topic.  Blogs can be very effective when used by a business to promote a product or service by increasing the amount of information available about the product or service.  Used properly the blog can be a very effective search engine marketing tool.

Web Development

Web development is sometimes used interchangeably with "web design" to indicate anything and everything that is involved with creating or maintaining a website.  To IT professionals and programmers, web development has a more speciffic meaning.  Web development relates speciffically to the non visual aspects of a web site, background programming and behind the scenes things that make a website do something with information that customers provide or respond to data in some way.  A shopping cart application is an example of a web development process.  Web design on the other hand is the production of the visual aspects of a website.

FTP

FTP or "file transfer protocol" is one of the oldest internet protocols in existance.  FTP is used to move files from one location to another.  An FTP server is actually a piece of software that runs on a server computer that allows files to be transferred to it or from it.  An FTP client is a software program that one uses to upload or download from an FTP server.  FTP is the means by which most all static websites are edited.

Web Portal

A web portal is essentially a gateway to all sorts of related information.  There are different kinds of portals of different sizes.  The big ones are sites like yahoo.com or aol.com that provide a launch pad to sites all over the Internet.  However; through the development of new technologies it has become possible for small businesses to operate their own web portals for their customers to provide them with access to speciffic portions of their company like customer service or information related to a speciffic service or product line.  The Fox Development website utilizes a web portal to provide all of its content and functionality.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is the complete set of activities that relate to increasing traffic to a website by utilizing search engines.  Search engine marketing activities include things like search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click campaigns, banner advertising, link exhanges, content management, affiliate advertising and other things that are all designed to increase your site's ranking on the search engines and drive traffic and customers to your website.  Search engine marketing can be an intensive process requiring a lot of time and commitment to be effective especially in highly competitive industries but in most all cases the results are worth the effort.

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Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is the set of activities that are involved in making a website more search engine friendly.  Search engine optimization or the acronym SEO are commonly used by people to indicate anything related to moving a site up higher in search engine rankings.  Search engine optimization does not by any means guarantee better search engine rankings or more traffic to your website, what is does do is make a website that is already rich with content more available to search engines.  SEO is an activity that is part of an greater overall search engine marketing campaign.  To put it simply, imagine owning a race car,  tuning the race car to run as fast as it possibly can does not guarantee that you will win the race, BUT it definately improves your chances especially against another car that is not so finely tuned.

SSL Security

SSL security or "secure socket layer" security is an encryption technique that is based on a public and a private key.  The public key is generally stored on a large website maintained by an SSL certificate authority, many authorities exist throughout the world and have to pass stringent criteria in order to be considered a valid SSL authority by the WWC (world wide web consortium).  When you visit a site protected by SSL (these sites url's begin with a https:// instead of http://) your web browser is given one half of the encryption key by the website you are visiting, it then goes to the authority that issued the SSL certificate to the site you are visiting to get the other half. 

Once your browser has both half of the keys it establishes an encrypted connection to the website.  This encrypted connection means that all data that is sent from the site to your browser and from your browser to the site can only be viewed by you and the site you are visiting.  Anyone who tried to intercept this data would only see a mess of random letters and numbers because they do not have the key to unlock the transmission.

Sometimes you may see a warning when you visit a website that is using SSL that your browser cannot identify the party that issued the SSL certificate.  What this generally means is that the website you are trying to browse is using its own internally generated SSL certificate from one of its own servers.  This does not mean that your information is not protected, it only means that your browser does not have the certificate in its list of known providers.  If you know that the website you are visiting is a trustworthy site then it is generally safe to proceed, however if you have any doubt that the website owner is not who they say they are then you may want to reconsider.

Static IP

A static IP address is an IP address assigned to you that never changes.  Most cable and DSL providers assign their consumer grade customers with a dynamic IP address that may change often or may be the same for weeks on end.  In order to host a website or email services your IP address needs to remain constant otherwise computers around the world will not be able to find you because you are not where they expect you to be.  Most cable and DSL providers offer business class service packages that include a static IP address either as part of the service fee or for a small additional charge.

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is not a change in software or any kind of an actual upgrade for the web and its technologies.  Web 2.0 is more like a different way of thinking about the web and providing things to our audienance or customers.  Web 2.0 envisions the web as a platform for communications and applications.  When the web first premiered it was more like a reall great place to put a billboard.  The web 2.0 perspective takes into account the capability of tele-communications technology, the expectations of a global population who have become used to the web over the years and the need for the web to be a little more practical and active in the lives of people and businesses.  A website designed to take full advantage of web 2.0 perspectives is a website that "does" something.  More than a simple shopping cart, a website that responds to customer needs and demands in a dynamic way and provides immediate access to information in by taking advantage of all of the technologies that have grown up on the web over the years.  A good example of a web 1.0 mentality was Britanicca Online the web 2.0 evolution of that concept is Wikipedia.  Wikipedia provides a holistic overview of a topic in ways that Britanicca online could never have accomplished because Wikipedia takes advantage of a much larger group of users and utilizes technologies that put that data in the hands of the users and places controls into the hands of the community of users. Ebay and paypal are other examples of web 2.0 websites.  These websites are provide a gigantic range of immediately available features.  The day of the business card on the web type website have come and gone, customers these days demand that a website give them something, they want the web experience with a business to be as rich and as fulfilling as any interaction with the business itself.

Web Application

A web application is a program that is delivered via a web browser.  There are many examples of web applications, e-bay is a web application, shopping carts are web applications, this web site is a web application!  Basically, any website that actually takes input from a user and returns output to the user is a web application. 

The web application itself is run on the server that the  website is hosted on.  These programs take input provided by a user and return processed information, or they may perform tasks without input and deliver automated results.  Web applications are created by web developers who must be experienced programmers with a great deal of knowledge about how to create program.  This level of ability is far and away greater than what is required to make a simple web page or web site.

Web applications can be written in any number of programming languages but the most popular are php, asp and the latest from Microsoft asp.net.

Web Design

Web design is a general term used by many to mean anything that has to do with creating a website.  To thos involved in creating and maintaining websites, web design has a more speciffic meaning.  Web design is the group of activities that relate the creating the visual elements that a user sees in their web browser.  The backgound code or programming for a website that offers eCommerce or other features is produced by another process known as web development.

Dynamic website

A dynamic website is any website that is connected to some form of data source that allows content to change based on the information in that data source.  The most common example of a dynamic website is an eCommerce site connected to a database.  The information that customers see comes from a database that is constantly changing.  Creating a dynamic website is a much more demanding process than creating its opposite, a static website.  A static website gets its content only from the .html or .htm file that it is created from.  To change the content on a dynamic page one will usually log into the site and use on-line tools to add products or articles to the site, to change the content on a static page one needs to use an off-line html editor like Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page then upload the page to a webhost with an FTP client.

Static website

A static website is the most primitive form of a web site.  A static website can only be changed by modifying the .html files that make up the website.  Static websites can work very well for a company that does not have much information to present or does not require any eCommerce features or other elements that require a connection to a database.  Static websites become difficult to maintain when frequent updates to content are required.  If the website is going to present data that changes on a regular basis then the better choice is to create a dynamic website.