If you’ve ever been in charge of your company’s website (or are considering having a site built), you know that there are some industry terms that designers, developers, and consultants throw around. If you’re not a techie, you might sometimes feel like your web designer is speaking a foreign language. Sometimes you might recognize a buzz-word you heard on the news or read about in a business journal. Sometimes, these are technical terms that just go with the terrain. All of them are necessary for you to understand though – to make sure you get the most out of your site and your service providers.
1. Web Browser
If you are reading this blog post right now, you are viewing it through the wonders of a browser. A browser is a piece of software on your computer, tablet or phone that lets you explore the world wide web and read web pages. Common browsers you may have heard of are Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
Each browser does its job a little differently, reading the code of your web page and translating it into a visual display for visitors in its own way. Which explains why sometimes your site looks a little different when you look at it on your mom’s ancient computer. Most web developers will complete cross-browser testing, to make sure the website works and displays correctly on all modern browsers. (Notice I didn’t say displays “exactly the same way” in all browsers… Your website is not a printed flyer; it is an organic and dynamic tool that will vary from screen to screen.)
Web browsers are updated frequently to take advantage of new code standards and technology, and to work on newer devices. This means that your site will likely need to be updated as new browser technology is released into the world, usually within 2-3 years.
2. Domain Name
This is one of the most confusing elements of a website to many business owners. Your domain name is your website’s address, it is what people type in to get to you. For instance, NetSource’s website’s domain name is netsourceinc.com. The Microsoft Corporation’s domain name is microsoft.com.
In order to be able to use a domain name for your company’s website and email, you need to register it. No one actually owns their domain name, they register the domain name and renew periodically (typically annually, though you can register for longer periods). It is similar to renting a post office box: you pay for the box each year so you can get mail delivered at your PO BOX, but you don’t own it… it belongs to the post office.
There are many Registrars who you can register your domain with – GoDaddy and Network Solutions are two of the largest in the US. If your web developer registers or “purchases” your domain name for you, be sure that they listed someone at your organization as the Registrant. This will allow you to easily transfer to a different host or service provider, if necessary. Better yet, be sure you have your own login credentials for your Registrar account.
3. URL (or Uniform Resource Locator)
Similar to domain name, a URL is your address online. Whereas a domain name is your entire site’s location, or your house, a URL is the location of a single page, or a room in the house. Every page of your website (every single image and file actually) has a unique URL that can be typed in or linked to. For instance, your About Us page might have a URL like this: https://www.mysite.com/about-us
4. SSL (Secure Socket Layers)
Without getting into technical details, your website will require an SSL if you will be sending or receiving sensitive, private data like credit card numbers, social security ID’s, etc. SSL allows you to send encrypted data, which is a necessary security measure for things like online stores taking payments, credit applications, and some employment forms.
An SSL will need to be renewed and re-installed on your website on a regular basis, typically annually.
5. Screen Resolution
Screen resolution, or display resolution, is a measure of the pixel width x the height of a computer, laptop, or phone screen. In general, the larger the screen or monitor, the higher the screen resolution. However, someone might have a large screen set to a low screen resolution, in order to make things bigger and easier to read.
The most common resolutions on desktop are: 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 (according to w3schools.com). The most common mobile screen resolutions are: 640 x 1136 and 1080 x 1920 (according to deviceatlas.com)
The resolution of the screen viewing your website will affect the way your site looks to the visitor. On desktop screens, you might notice more “blank space” to the left and right on higher screen resolutions. You will also have more scrolling on lower screen resolutions.
As you can see, because of different screen sizes, you don’t have full control of your visitor’s experience on your site. Combined with browser (mentioned above) website display will always vary. It is virtually impossible to deliver the exact same site visually to all computers, screens, browsers, and devices. It is the website developer’s job to make sure all visits are successful, and that a visitor on their iOS laptop has no idea that the website they see is not exactly as you intended, even though it looks slightly different on someone else’s big screen.
A mobile website is a site which displays optimally for mobile devices (phones and tablets). This means menus, touch areas for links, and overall layout have been adjusted to fit a smaller screen and/or resolution. Responsive websites are a special type of mobile, because they use CSS (cascading style sheets) to adjust the display of a single page based on the resolution of the screen and the device accessing the page. So the code for https://www.yoursite.com/about will automatically display differently based on whether it is being viewed on a desktop computer, tablet, or phone.
We have many articles on this blog discussing mobile and responsive, if you’d like to learn more.
CMS (or Content Management System)
Websites perform the best for companies when they are up-to-date. That’s why many business owners and managers choose to have their website developed on a Content Management System, or CMS. Simply, a CMS allows you to manage the content on your website. Depending on the system you choose, you might have only limited to full control of your site. Examples of common CMSs include WordPress, Joomla and DotNetNuke.
When talking about your Monthly Hosting, bandwidth will typically come up. Generally in this case, bandwidth is referring to a maximum amount of data transfer each month or given period, or monthly data transfer.
Every file on your website – page code, style sheets, images, and other documents – is requested and downloaded from your website hosting space whenever it is requested by a new visitor. This data transfer uses the web host’s bandwidth to send the data. Larger file sizes, and higher traffic (meaning more file requests), will use more bandwidth. Many hosting plans and pricing will reflect this in higher costs.
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization)
Search Engine Optimization refers to the techniques and practices used to improve and maintain a website’s search ranking, or where they appear in search engines like Google and Bing for their chosen keywords. SEO is always changing and evolving based primarily on changes to Google’s ranking algorithms, however many of the basic factors include: keyword relevance, on-page content relevance, standards-based website development, page performance/speed, mobile accessibility and usability, quality inbound links, quality internal links, recency, and popularity.
To learn more about SEO and get more details, check out some of our other SEO articles.
You likely have a goal in mind when you develop your website: sell products online, generate leads, entice potential customers to download your white paper, etc. These actions can be tracked and counted in your website’s traffic analytics as “Goals.” Each successfully completed goal is a conversion. The number of conversions you generate per overall visits is your conversion rate: for instance 150 online sales last month out of 25,000 website visits would give you a conversion rate of 0.6%.