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Website Design Terminology

The following top-level common website terms are defined below as the words relate to websites and website design.

Design: This is the look of the website including the colors, fonts, photos and graphic images used to create unified templates for the site.

Content: This is the narrative of the site, including photos, videos, audio and graphic images.

Code: This is the information that tells the browser how to render a website.

Language: Website code is comprised of languages. Each language has its own set of rules, hierarchy and terms that must be adhered to in order to render the website properly in browsers and to provide the expected functionality. Languages like PHP, Javascript, jQuery and AMP work together to create and enhance the basic building block language HTML5. Even the simplest of web pages can take thousands of lines of code to render correctly. And because it is comprised of language, the way each page is coded is based on the person who codes. No two coders will get to the same end result in the same way.

HTML5: Hyper-Text-Markup-Language 5 is the current international standard for the markup language (code) for the structure and presentation of World Wide Web content.

Features/Functionality: This is terminology to describe things we might want the website to do or display that require additional coding above and beyond the standard coding that displays content. A basic feature/functionality is a simple contact form. More complex is a contact form that saves the user's input into a database. Maps are complex features. Maps that display data based on visitor input are very complex.

CRITICAL CONCEPT Template/Theme: The word "template" or "theme" as it is used in reference to websites is very vague and must be defined before you contract with anyone to design a website. For some, it is simply the graphic design of how a website should look, without the coding to turn the design concept into a live website. For others, it is simply a set of individual content pages with appealing designs. The code for these designs is not linked, which means when you want a change for a universal feature on all your web pages, you must open every web page and make the code changes by hand.

For our purposes, when we refer to template/theme we are referring to a type of document that is used to design a "fixed" page layout. All content pages are linked to an appropriate template/theme. Then, anytime a change to the "fixed" layout is needed, the change can be made to the template/theme and upon save, all of the site's content pages are updated. This is a critical time-saving feature that also has a tremendous impact on website accuracy.

Template and coding requirements are intertwined and will need to be fully spelled out in an Request for Proposal (RFP) and contract with a designer.

SEO: The generally accepted definition of this acronym is "Search engine optimization"; however we at prefer to think of this as "Site Engagement Optimization." This is a combination of code and content that influences where each website page appears in search engines.

Domain Name / URL: This is the friendly address for the website. For example:,

Parked Domain: This is a domain name owned to prevent others from registering a site domain name similar to a company's preferred domain name. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was a common practice to have multiple domain names pointed to one website. Around 2005, search engines began penalizing for this practice. So now you may own similar domain names, but it is now common practice to only associate a website with one domain name.

https:// A website that utilizes a standard security protocol (SSL) (think 256-bit encryption) for establishing links between a web server (host) and a browser. An SSL certificate must be in place for each variation of a website address users type into their browser. For instance, we have a certificate for both and This is not the same as a "secure website".

Host: This is the service that holds the files that makeup the website.

Mobile-first indexing: Google, Bing and other search engines have prioritized rankings based on how a website performs on mobile devices with the site's desktop performance a secondary consideration.

Responsive site: Website design automatically adjusts layout and content delivery for screen resolution.

Content Security Policy (CSP): A website's content security policy is an added layer of security to mitigate cross site scripting (XSS) attacks adn data intejection attacks used to deface the site, steal data and/or distribute malware. SEO firm

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