Tech Talk for Dummies – Decoding the Code

Sometimes, us agencies can become a little bit complacent when it comes to using technical jargon; we live and breathe it and we sometimes forget not everyone else is used to hearing the same acronyms we have become so familiar with. It can, sometimes, be quite a daunting prospect for a business to have their website built or redesigned, especially by an outsourced developer, because of this language barrier.

How are you supposed to trust someone isn’t trying to make something sound more complex than it actually is, or, even worse, are they actually doing exactly what you have asked? And, let’s be honest, we don’t always feel comfortable asking – especially when certain terminology is used in such a blasé manner.

Here in the Brave camp, we don’t like having confused clients. We want to clear up any mystery surrounding web development, tech talk, and funny sounding acronyms for good. So, we have put together a list of the words thrown around our office on a regular basis that may not be all that familiar to those of you out there that aren’t living in the land of code!

CMS

Content Management System – a software system that is used to manage the content on your website. It allows you to login into the ‘back-end’ of your website and edit images and text. Some examples include Drupal and WordPress. A CMS is designed to simplify the process of editing and adding website content, without requiring technical knowledge of HTML.

What is ‘back-end’ and ‘front-end’?

At a very basic level, the back-end of a website relates to the initial programming put in place that the front-end sits on top of, it is the part hidden from view of website visitors. The back-end generally includes the information structure, applications, and the CMS controlling content on the site.

The front-end is the practice of producing code in the format of HTML, CSS and JavaScript to produce the visual elements such as images, content, and layouts.

Typically a front-end developer deals with coding the layout, design, and appearance of a website whilst a back-end developer structures the platform on which this code sits.

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language – Relating to the front-end of web development. HTML is the coded language that is used to construct web pages and display content like images, text, and video on the web. It’s usually used in conjunction with other languages that allow the developer to add functionality, such as PHP and JavaScript.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheets – CSS is the code that front-end developers use to designate how a web page should be presented. It formats the look and feel of the website, and sets global styles for colors, fonts, images, and menus.

Javascript

JavaScript is a programming language used to make web pages interactive. It is often used to create quizzes and polls. Javascript is used by both front-end and back-end web developers.

HTML5

HTML5 is the latest version of HTML. It actually combines the three kinds of code previously described above: HTML, which provides the structure; JavaScript, which makes things interactive and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which take care of presentation.

PHP

Hypertext Preprocessor – PHP relates to the back-end of web development. It is a server side programming language that is used to produce database-driven websites and scalable corporate solutions and is often used in conjunction with HTML.

HTTP

Hypertext Transfer Protocol – HTTP defines how messages are formatted and broadcasted and what actions browsers should take in response to various commands. For example, when you enter a URL in your browser, this sends a HTTP command to the web server directing it to take and transmit the requested page.

301 redirect

A permanent redirect from one URL to another, usually from your old website to your new website. 301 redirects are also used to redirect traffic from old web pages to a new page that has taken its place, this ensures you will not miss out on potential traffic just because that particular landing page is no longer in use.

404 Not Found

A page the user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your website. Usually this is because the page has been deleted and a 301 redirect hasn’t been implemented or they’ve mistyped the URL.

302 Redirect

Similar (as the name suggests) to a 301 redirect but these are only temporary redirects used when a page is being taken down for now, but will be returned later. Using a 302 tells Google not to remove the page from the rankings.

Hardcoding

Hardcoding is to use an explicit rather than a symbolic name for something that is likely to change at a later time. On a basic level it means it is more difficult to change something if it later becomes necessary; in order to change the code one would need to alter the programming not just the code itself.

Dev copy

Developer Copy – Taking a ‘dev’ copy just means mirroring your live site on the local system for development. This is common for commercial sites, where you have a live production server but you also need a development server, which is run locally to test plug-ins, themes, mods, and everything else that you don’t want to do on the live production server.

Breakpoints

These are the points in which a website’s content will adjust to display the content in the best possible way for the user. This term is often used in responsive design where breakpoints are pivotal in ensuring the layout of the page fits to adjust various different screen sizes.

Cookies

No, not the yummy things we try our best to avoid before summer, these cookies are a text file sent every time we enter a new page online (unless you have turned this feature off on your computer) which include an anonymous unique identifier that is sent to a browser from a website and stored on your computer.

Cookies are used to build up a sort of profile on the user; they can track the kind of websites you visit, the frequency of visits made and then use this information to send targeted adverts that follow you around whilst you are online, and can suggest various websites and items you ‘may like’ based on your historic activity.

So that’s it…

We hope you found our list useful, and if there is anything we’ve missed that you would still like to know, leave us a comment below, we’re always happy to help!

 

Written byTony Conte

Founder and Owner of Brave Agency, an Integrated Agency transforming businesses through design, digital and marketing, helping you, our clients to get results by applying the right strategy.

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