A-Z Guide to Web Design

 After last week’s rather in-depth article, I decided to post something a bit more light-hearted. I’d like to do something a bit more fun, and well, what could possibly be more fun than the alphabet? In this article, I will list a mini-glossary of Web Design terms. Feel free to use any of the terms from this list during your upcoming holiday parties, to impress your friends with your vast knowledge of Web Design jargon!


Today’s Internet is all about AUTHORITY. Your online authority, at its simplest, is the single most important thing for your brand. To further understand your site’s authority, use Optimum7’s new visibility testing tool.


A controversial theory among web designers today is whether it is important to place things above or BELOW THE FOLD. While a past common belief dictated that designers needed to place calls to action and other important information close to the top of the page, this idea is becoming less and less popular. Don’t believe me? On October 31, mobile web strategist and front-end designer Brad Frost tweeted,  “The Fold Does(n’t) Exist…” and included a link to this page. After visiting that page, I can’t help but agree with him.


A CMS is a content management system. Popular CMSs include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. A CMS allows everyday users with little to no knowledge of HTML to actively participate in efficient content creation. In my opinion, using a CMS is a huge advantage to preventing a hit from Google’s frequent algorithm updates.


A DOMAIN is the name by which a website is identified and it is associated with an IP address. An example of a domain is optimum7.com.


E-COMMERCE is the buying and selling of a product or service over the Internet. Popular e-commerce software includes Volusion, Magento, and X-Cart.


FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. FTP allows you to transfer files from one host to another host over a network, such as the Internet.


G is for GEEK. This is a slang term that is very near and dear to my heart. Are you a geek? Embrace it, and use it to your advantage!


A website’s HOMEPAGE is the page that a user most commonly sees when they visit your domain. It is important that a homepage reinforces your brand name, assures your user that they are in the right place, and defines a clear call to action. Please don’t confuse a homepage with an entry page. An entry page is the first page a visitor arrives at when they visit your site, no matter what link they use. For example, if you post a recent article from your site to Facebook, and a user clicks that link, they are brought to the article page. This article page is an entry page, not a homepage.  Entry pages will vary from user to user.


Google servers visit pages on the Internet and read their contents. After analyzing the content, Google builds an internal INDEX. It is important to allow your site to index pages so they can show up in search engine results.


JQUERY is a multi-browser JavaScript library designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML.  Most web designers use jQuery because it can achieve complex functionality with clean, concise code.


KERNING is the act of adjusting the spacing between letters or characters. Kerning is important because it allows users to easily read through lines or a paragraph. For a fun kerning activity, please see KernType.


A major aspect of design is creating a LAYOUT. If you look at any well-designed layout, you will notice that designers almost always work with a grid. We line things up, we make one side balance the other, we use whitespace, etc. Designers do this so that you will (a) understand where to look and (b) know what we want you to do.


Web designers play a large part in creating a MOBILE PRESENCE. In a past article, Mobile Site Options for Small Businesses, I explain the different ways to build a mobile presence, no matter what your budget is. Mobile design is incredibly important today, and will most likely only become more essential as smart phone use increases.


A fundamental aspect of almost any web layout is the NAVIGATION. The navigation allows users to move from page to page on a site. It is important that your navigation be easily recognizable, and contains absolutely no broken links. The easier your site is to navigate, the more likely users will be to travel from page to page.


O is for OPTIMUM7, the finest marketing and consultation agency around, and your source for all things online!


A popular tool among designers, and my personal favorite, is Adobe PHOTOSHOP. Photoshop is an image-editing program used in both print and web design.


Today, users and search engines alike are highly concerned with QUALITY CONTENT. This includes both written and visual content. Have you ever heard the expression; “you eat with your eyes first”. The same goes for web design. When you find a great article in Google, and land upon a spammy-looking site you’re likely to return to your search. Make sure your site is high quality, through and through.


The concept of RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN was first introduced by Ethan Marcotte. The basic idea is to design a website that “responds” to its surroundings. Through responsive design, we create just one version of a site, which conforms to the size of whatever device it is being viewed on.


SPEED OPTIMIZATION is highly important to today’s web designers. With an ever-impatient society, it is our job to create a site that loads as quickly as possible. If we fail to fully load in 4 seconds or less, you’ll most likely lose your user.


Today’s designers need to rely on TEXT as much as possible. Gone are the days of navigation as images. We need to use as much text as possible, so search engines can efficiently crawl our sites, and so our sites will load as quickly as possible. In addition, thanks to CSS3, we can now create fantastic Photoshop-like effects, such as text-shadows, to jazz up our headlines as desired.


I’d like to set aside the letter U especially for the most important client of all: the USER. While designing, it is always important to keep the user in mind. Hypothesize how the user will interact with the site, and create your design accordingly. Once the site is launched, use Google Analytics to further understand your users, and adjust your design as needed.


VISUAL HIERARCHY is arguably the most important principle in design. The term refers to the order in which the human eye perceives what it sees. In theory, the most important things should be seen and understood before aspects of less importance.


The World Wide Web Consortium has created WEB STANDARDS to allow designers and developers to create sites that will appear consistently across browsers and platforms. To test how your site holds up to the W3C’s standards, use their validation tool.


XML stands for extensible markup language. It defines a standard set of rules for encoding documents that can be understood by both people and machines.


After reading this far, you are probably ready to delve into a career in web design, but I’d like to inform you of one common challenge among designers- the client. More specifically, the YOYO CLIENT. We have all experienced this type of client, who can’t make up their mind, or is always asking for one more change. My advice here is to stick to your gut. You are the designer, and you know best.


Web design is a fast-paced, constantly-evolving field. The most important tool for any web designer is a ZEAL FOR KNOWLEDGE. In this industry, you have to be passionate about what you do. You need to eat, breathe, sleep, and love design. Luckily for me, web design isn’t truly work. I love what I do, and I love to learn the new techniques and theories. To any new designer who may be reading this, who feels intimidated by those with more experience, I have a message: Stop. Do not be afraid. Take chances, make mistakes, ask questions, read, and learn. If you consistently try your best every day, and work to learn as much about your field as you can, you are every bit as good as any seasoned designer.

Optimum7 designers are focused on real results and conversions. Contact us today for a well researched, strategic, creative and well executed website design. We’re here to help!