Our Guide To Web Design

Image of a man viewing a tablet


Here at westfourstreet we can appreciate how confusing the web can be for our clients and how acronyms used can be a little confusing at times. So as a point of reference we have put together our guide to Web Design and the commonly used ‘buzz words’.

This guide will hopefully throw some light onto some of the terminology used and will be a useful reference for anyone hoping to gain a clearer insight to the processes that take place during a web project.

So lets get started!

Apps

To be specific, mobile apps. A mobile app is an application which has been specifically developed for small devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Browser

A browser is a computer program which renders HTML into web pages and a platform allowing users to browse the internet and websites.

CMS

A Content Management System (CMS) is an online program which allows website administrators to edit and add content on their website. A content management system is typically accessed using a username and password and most modern content management systems provide users with a visual representation of their website. This allows for a more visual and easier way to make updates and change images.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is effectively what styles a web page. A single CSS file will control the layout and style of many, if not all pages on a site. CSS will add style to HTML elements which are displayed on either a screen, on paper or in an alternative media format. In a nutshell, CSS adds the paint and structure.

Development

Web Development is what’s commonly referred to as the building of a website. A web developer will usually be provided design with design concepts which are then built using programming languages such as HTML5, PHP & Javascript and styles applied by using CSS3.

Favicon

This little square icon is what you will most likely to see in your browser tabs or displayed in the web address bar when viewing a website. It allows for a website owner to provide a little extra branding when a user visits. It’s also a way for users to identify your site ‘tab’ when they have additional tabs open at the same time.

Fixed Headers

This commonly used feature on websites means that when a user scrolls down the page, the top elements (usually the site navigation and contact details) remain at the top of the page at all times. A neat little feature which means users are never needing to scroll back to the top in order to navigate to a different page.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free web analytics service provided by Google which allows users to view statistics relating to their chosen website. The service tracks website traffic, traffic sources, user demographics as well the journey users take after landing on a specific page.

Hamburger Menu

No, this isn’t what you’d expect when visiting a fast food restaurant. It is in fact the term used for the large majority menus which are used on mobiles and tablets. The name stems from the fact that the icon that represents the menu is made up of three single lines, all stacked on top of each other and kind of looks like a hamburger. Upon clicking on the icon a user can expect to be presented with the site navigation or the menu options for the website or page.

HTML

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. HTML is a markup language and a set of markup tags which define how a browser must format and display the website content.

IE

Seems pretty straight forward that IE stands for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer but we have had a few raised eyebrows from time to time when referring to the browser as IE.

Infographics

Infographics are a popular way to present either analytical data or information to users. Infographics are also hugely popular amongst web designers and website owners.

Javascript (JS)

Javascript or JS, is a programming language used to make web pages interactive. It will run on a user’s computer and it won’t require constant downloads from your website. Many of the moving elements you see on a website are controlled by Javascript. For example, dropdown menus and scrolling banners.

Leverage Browser Caching

What leveraging does is allow for a users browser to load previously downloaded website resources from a previous visit. So these downloaded resources are pulled in via the users local disc and not over the network. This effectively speeds up the load time on a site and means your users won’t have to wait around. For example, having to wait around an image to display which has previously been viewed before by the user. It’s beneficial on websites where a user will regularly visit the same area of that particular site.

Meta Tag

A meta tag is an HTML tag which is used to include meta data within the header of your website. A meta tag can provide snippets of details and provide descriptions of your website. They can be used to tell search engines what your website is about.

Mobile Web Design

Pretty much is what it says on the tin. Mobile Web Design is the practice of designing web pages which are to be rendered on mobile devices. Because a mobile website will format differently to the desktop version of the same site, a web designer will at times be required to design the pages of a website specifically for mobiles and tablets. This allows clients to preview how their website will appear when users are not browsing on a regular desktop computer.

Optimisation

See ‘Search Engine Optimisation’.

Parallax

Parallax is currently a big trend in web design at the moment. What it does is allow for a background element on a website to move at a slower rate to the elements in the foreground. What this achieves is a kind of 2D/3D effect as the user scrolls down the page. If used subtlety it can make for a pleasant user experience and adds a level of engagement and stimulation to those viewing the page.

Responsive Web Design

A responsive website is a site which ‘responds’ according to the device a user is using to access your site. Responsive Web Design is hugely popular now that over half of web users are accessing sites using their smartphones or tablets. So what a responsive site will do is reformat itself to be more accessible and user friendly to the user on their chosen device.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of getting organic or natural search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are many factors which contribute to the level of optimisation a website has. One of the key factors is the quality of the content on a site and the user experience it provides.

Search engines are geared up to provide links to its users which are relevant and contain quality and informative content.

Read our article on ‘Why Great Web Copy Is Important‘.

Tag

A tag is set of markup characters that surround an element within the code of a website and will specify how an element should be formatted and how it should look and behave on screen.

User Interface (UI)

The user interface is what is presented to users when they view an application or web page. It will display various items in which a user can use to communicate with the program. In plain English, a menu-driven interface for example is one where a user will select commands from various menus which are displayed on a screen and allows the user to navigate to an item or page.

User Experience (UX)

One of our favourites! The User Experience (UX) is how a user interacts and engages with a website. A website that presents its content is an engaging way is far more likely to have return visits and produce high conversion rates.

Factors that contribute to a satisfying UX are improved usability, accessibility and visual engagement. These factors can provide a pleasurable experience to the user, allowing them to interact with a website and find content easily.

Many web design agencies including ourselves have a designer who solely focuses on the user experience and design of a website.

User experience design can also be referred to by UXD, UED or XD.

Website Brief

Seems pretty straight forward but a website brief will consist of various different items. These items will include information on the purpose of the website, its target audience, how users interact with the site and how users will get from A-B.

A good website brief will also provide information to a web designer on brand guidelines.

Web Standards

Web Standards are specifications which have been recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The aim of Web Standards is to make it easier for both web designers, web developers and the companies who develop web browsers to make websites appear far more consistently across various different platforms. It’s worth baring in mind that these are only recommendations and are used as general guidelines.

In their own words:

A W3C Recommendation is a specification or set of guidelines that, after extensive consensus-building, has received the endorsement of W3C Members and the Director. W3C recommends the wide deployment of its Recommendations.

We Hope This Helps?

So obviously we’re aware that not everything can be covered, but the above items should shed some light onto many of the acronyms or phrases which you may come across on a web project.

We pride ourselves on the work we deliver so if we can help you or your business with a project then feel free to contact us on Milton Keynes – 01908 967359 or get in touch here.