A Quick Anatomy Lesson to Bring You Up To Speed
We’re kidding, of course, as you don’t really need to know what ANY of this stuff means (lucky you) because that’s our job, not yours. But just in case you’re curious, we’re happy to include a few of the words and phrases you may hear us blathering on about.
Some of these words and phrases—like “widget,” for example—can mean different things to different geeks. To us at Thrillworks, widgets are functional self-contained web modules that support the other content on the page; modules that the user can interact with. Like a product or location finder, or a related links box. But others may use “widget” to refer to anything from a generic product on an assembly line, to an obscure body part (see philtrum).
The point is we’ve seen lots of different people use the same word to mean different things online. As a result, some of these words and phrases have a bit of malleability to them, while others are more common and “set in stone.” That said, happy glossarying!
This one is too confusing (not to mention boring). If you REALLY want to know what ASP.NET is all about, call us. We’re experts. Now, to the breadcrumbs. Yeah!
Named after the trail of breadcrumbs left by Hansel and Gretel so they could find their way back home, “breadcrumbs” is simply a navigation aid that lets you quickly see where you are within a website. On a webpage, for example, breadcrumbs may look something like this: humour » jokes » knock-knock jokes » knock-knock jokes about web design companies. You get the idea. Since each section of the breadcrumb is also a hyperlink, it’s easy to retrace your steps. Much like overhead road-signs along the highway, or the signs in grocery aisles, breadcrumbs usually appear across the top of a webpage, below address bars or in headers.
This is what we call the main content area of your webpage, where all the yummy goodness (read: main body content) is found. As with the Caramilk Secret, we are unable to divulge more than that. Sorry.
Flash produces all that superfluous animation that designers with too much time on their hands create so you have to wait for a bunch of stuff to download before you’re able to enter a site. (Fortunately, there’s usually a “Skip Intro” button, which something like 99% of us click.) Are we anti-Flash? Absolutely not. We love it, in fact, and we’re great at using it, but only very, very, very, very, very sparingly. With Flash, in other words, less is more. We would never design a site for you in which your customer had to sit there, fuming, waiting for a bunch of bells and whistles to download. That is not our style. Our Flash downloads in a flash, looks awesome, and has a purpose.
A footer is a defined space at the bottom of your webpage (it’s at the bottom of every page on your site, in fact) where you see particular links. A site’s “Terms and Conditions” is a link you usually see in the footer, for example. Links to all the “legalese” are found here, too. As of late, footers often include a “lite” version of a sitemap to help visitors navigate through the website. Not by coincidence, we've done the very same on our site.
Similar to footers in that they are consistent on each page (though top of page instead of bottom of page). Rather than legalese and other boring stuff, your headers usually contain visual items such as your logo and your navigation tools. Headers also act as a kind of “visual anchor” in that they provide a visual consistency that helps tie your site together. Headers tend to smell better than footers. (Sorry. That was totally lame.)
Heading Tags (H1, H2, etc.)
In addition to being the least humourous entry in the Thrillworks glossary (if you think of a way to funny up this definition, let us know!), a heading tag is the code we wrap around the words on a webpage so your browser knows how to format the page text. In basic English, your main heading gets one tag; your subheading another; your body copy another; and so on down the line in a hierarchical fashion. Very useful when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and, again, entirely unfunny.
HTML / CSS
Short for HyperText Markup Language, HTML is the basic building block for most webpages. In other words, most of the "behind the scenes" that goes on eventually ends up producing HTML for your web browser. All you really need to know about HTML, though, is the fact that Thrillworks knows everything—and we mean EVERYTHING—about it, which is yet one more benefit for you!
CSS, short for Cascading Style Sheets, is worth mentioning here, too, as it's a language that works hand-in-hand with HTML, giving web developers all kinds of fancy ways to make your web browsing experience faster, easier and well… better all around. Besides allowing us to do all kinds of neat formatting stuff we couldn’t otherwise do with HTML on its own, CSS lets us create things like those printer-friendly links and those font resizers (A A A) you’ve probably seen. We know CSS inside-out, and will exploit it shamelessly for your benefit.
By removing the prefix “hyper,” well, now you know what this one means, right? Yeah, a link! Simple. That thing you click on. Hyperlinks are the most essential ingredient of the Web; indeed, they are what helped make the Web itself so revolutionary. Putting the information you want “just a click away,” hyperlinks are the “instant gratification” of electronic reference tools. By the way, did you know that Google’s unique and creative use of hyperlinks is what makes it so easy for you to find what you’re looking for?
Metatags are special HTML tags that allow supplemental information about a webpage to be embedded within the page itself. Unlike normal HTML tags, metatags do not affect how a webpage looks; instead, they provide a way of including summary information and keywords into a page without it being seen by the visitor. This supplemental information helps search engines accurately index a website.
Comes in many flavours: top nav, left nav, primary nav, secondary nav, etc. It kind of speaks for itself – helps the user navigate through the site. Get it right and your visitors will be overjoyed and shower you with love. Get it wrong and, well, your visitors will get annoyed and click over to your competition.
This is a page that isn’t represented in the navigation. There’s no link to it, so search engines and visitors can’t find it without specifically being told where it is. It’s essentially a hidden page within the website. Why would you need orphan pages you might ask? You could have a marketing need such as a contest or a survey, or you could be trying to determine how much traffic is coming from a specific advertising campaign. It’s cloak-and-dagger stuff. Very James Bond. And importantly, very importantly, do not shed a tear for the orphan page—it has its purpose and is more than happy in its solitude.
PHP is an extremely popular (like over-20-million-ish-websites-popular) open-source programming language (like ASP.NET) used to create dynamic webpages. It is the “P” in the popular LAMP framework, which also includes Linux, Apache, and MySQL. (Get it? L. A. M… P!) Although this is how PHP is typically deployed, it also runs… Hey, do you know what? We’re almost at the end of our glossary, this definition is actually mega-boring, so what say that, like our definition of ASP.NET, you just give us a call if you really feel you need a detailed definition. Now, on to RSS! A real laugh fest, this one!
RSS (Really Sexy Syndication…er, make that Real Simple Syndication) is the standard for the syndication of web content. The most widespread usage of RSS is in the distribution of news on the Web. For example, if you wish to allow other sites to publish some of your content, or if you want individuals to be able to keep abreast of what you’re up to, you would create an RSS feed and register it with an RSS publisher (like feedburner.com). Syndicated content usually includes news-related matters such as headlines, news stories and event listings. It is, we are sad to say, yet another nail in the coffin of traditional newspapers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a website through high search engine result rankings. This is most commonly achieved by the use of keywords—words imbedded in your site’s headings and copy that you think browsers will type into search engines. If you own a pizza shop in Burlington, for example, then “pizza” and “Burlington” will be two of your main keywords because that’s what some dude in Burlington with the munchies will type into Google.
Simply put, sitemap is to website what table of contents is to book. It’s a page that lists all of the pages on a site, thus making it easier for you to find information on a site without having to navigate through a ton of pages. The sitemap also helps search engines find pages on your site. It is the perfect feature for those guys who refuse to ask for directions on a road trip, even if it means taking a wrong turn and getting lost. With your trusty sitemap, getting lost is simply not an option.
Short for Secure Sockets Layer, SSL is used for secure webpages like logins and for actions that require privacy, like financial transactions, as well as for transmitting private documents via the Internet. SSL requires a virtual certificate and uses a system that encrypts data. Many websites use this protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers. SSL “Tip O’ the Day?” Make sure that little padlock icon is locked before you type in your credit card number!
Widgets are functional web modules that support the other content on the page; modules that the user can interact with. Like a product or location finder, or a related links box. If you want to get really technical, they’re doothingys (aka thingamabobs) that help users interact with a website.
Want to Know More?
All this widget talk got you wanting more? We’d love to chat. Drop us a line.