Ever wonder what on earth your web team are on about when they talk shop? Or what keywords in the brief actually mean in regards to the outcome of your new site?
The internet is an ever-developing source of information, code and buzz words that designers use and evolve as technology advances. Even when the internet was first opened fresh from the can it had been infiltrated by a multitude of acronyms that often bamboozled those who were curious of the phenomenon-turned-necessity. However it is important to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into and these 5 must-know web design and development terms will help you on your way.
HTML and CSS
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and is the language of the web.
Put simply, HTML provides a way for a web designer/developer to tell your web browser how to treat a particular elements of your website, including treatment of text, images, tables etc. HTML contains tags that allow the designer to create their content with semantic meaning so that paragraphs are identified as text copy, while images are imported as images and so on. However HTML isn’t enough on its own to create beautifully designed web pages.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) provide a method for designers to create a visual set of rules, or functioning guidelines, that determine how each element within a web page will be rendered on screen by the browser. CSS allows page elements such as text, the background and the size, shape and position of all the different parts of a page to be set.
Responsive design is an approach to web page creation that makes use of flexible layouts, flexible images and cascading style sheet media queries. The goal of responsive design is to build web pages that detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly. This means that iPhone, iPad and the squillions of other various tablets and mobile devices that show websites on their inbuilt browsers show the website as the designer intended for that particular machine.
You can read more about the leaps and bounds that Responsive Design has made in the past few years.
Information Architecture (IA)
Information Architecture (IA) is a generic term used to describe the semantic layout of content and information on a website. It refers to the organisation of the information, dealing with what pages go where in a website’s structure, what content is contained on each page, and how each of these interact with other pages within the site. Many clients are keen to jump into the design and development of their website without taking into careful consideration what they want to say, sell or advertise. IA is concerned with making it as easy as possible for users to find the information they’re looking for with the aim of increasing conversion, revenue and/or user satisfaction.
To assist in ordering your content we map out the individual pages and the overall menu system of the site to show how the site will unfold. However, without carefully considered text and image content the viewer won’t be fully engaged in the overall package. If in doubt talk to your developer and they will be able to offer alternatives or recommend a good copywriter or photographer.
Have you every visited a site and not known where to look? What exactly they were trying to draw attention to? This confusion isn’t just limited to the web, but it’s being used increasingly when referring to the design and layout of a web page. Put simply, visual hierarchy refers to the arrangement of design elements on a page so that the most important elements appear to have more emphasis.
This emphasis is normally achieved through the use of size, colour, font and special effects such as drop shadows. Visual hierarchy is often a conscious decision as a result of an effective Information Architecture process.
WordPress is a free Content Management System that Argon implements at the back end of their websites to make the content accessible to their clients. A CMS is a system used to manage the content of a website as well as allowing users to publish, edit and modify content as well as check maintenance from a central interface.
WordPress is loved by the designers and developers at Argon. So much so that Jamie, our Web Manager, wrote this glowing report on the platform early in 2013.