Ultimate Web Development Jargon Buster

Ultimate Web Development Jargon Buster

Web developers are an essential part of almost every project at Big Human. Our engineering team has helped create some of your favorite apps and websites, optimizing existing site architectures and even building new ones from scratch. But to describe exactly what they do, engineers quite literally have a language of their own. Frontend, backend, JavaScript, and HTML — the field is filled with technical buzzwords that can be easy to confuse and hard to comprehend.

Since web development is filled with dev-specific speak, ensuring a project’s success means making sure everyone knows each part of the process. Our engineers are happy to provide an explanation for anyone who asks, but it’s never a bad idea to do some research and get a basic level of understanding. So, to get the entire team on the same page and using the same words, we’ve created a glossary of web development terms everyone — from the engineer to the client — should know.

Our Web Development Jargon Buster is a growing document, so make sure to check back regularly for new additions.

404 error

A 404 error is a message a user sees when a request can’t be found or a page doesn’t exist. This usually happens when a user types in an incorrect URL or if a web page has been deleted.

Algorithm

An algorithm is a set of steps that finds a solution to a problem. When engineers create an algorithm, they document the specific actions they took to perform a task or resolve an issue.

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is a software that helps multiple applications interact with each other, and access information and data easily.

Alternative (Alt) Text

Alternative text is used within an HTML code to describe images and how they relate to a webpage’s content. It’s sorted by search engines and shown on a webpage if the image or asset fails to load. As short but thorough descriptions, alt text is also an accessibility feature since it can be read aloud to users who have screen readers. If you’re looking to improve SEO, alt text should be added to all images. 

Backend

This is the part of an app or website users don’t see. Backend refers to the server or database that functionally supports the frontend, which is what users see.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is a measure of the amount of information that can be transmitted through a data connection in a given amount of time. It can be measured in bits-per-second (bps), megabits-per-second (mps), or gigabits-per-second (gps).

Bug

A bug is an error that prevents an app or website from operating the way it’s supposed to. Bugs This is one of the most common web development terms you’ll hear.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Cascading Style Sheets is a simple design language that streamlines the creation of web pages. CSS is aesthetic — it handles the look and feel of a web page. It outlines a page’s layout, colors, fonts, spacing, and more while also accounting for different devices and screen sizes.

Cache

A browser or web cache temporarily stores a webpage’s static assets (images, code, etc), so users can easily and quickly jump from page to page without having to download them each time.

Content Management System (CMS)

A Content Management System is a software that helps multiple users create, change, store, and oversee content on a website. It’s a tool that can help people build a website without writing code from scratch, often using templated pages and workflows.

Cookies

HTTP cookies are small pieces of data that a server sends to a user’s web browser. Browsers store cookies to remember static information. Cookies are mainly used for personalization (user preference settings), session management (keeping users logged in, saving items in their shopping cart, etc), and recording and analyzing user behavior and browsing sessions.

Debug

Debugging is the process of scanning a software for bugs (errors), finding them, and then removing or resolving them. It can sometimes take longer to debug a program or software than to code it.

Domain Name

A domain name is the name of a website and part of the web address people use to find a website or webpage online. The domain name for this website is bighuman.com.

Framework

A framework is a collection of tools and resources that help web developers build and manage websites and applications more efficiently. Frameworks house these tools in a central location, so engineers don’t have to search for each separately.

Frontend

This is the part of an app or website the user sees. It’s the visual elements and coding that dictate the way users interact with a product.

Functional Requirements

Functional requirements specifically define how a product or software must operate, and what features and functions it will be required to perform. They establish the basic capabilities a system should have and outlines what a software should do.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

HTML is a computer language (or code) that structures a web page’s content and informs browsers how to display web elements like text, links, and media files. The hypertext organizes text on a page while the markup language determines the style and structure. HTML is also used to format documents and embed hyperlinks.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol / Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTP/HTTPS)

HTTP is used to transfer data across the internet. HTTP sends the data from a web server to a web browser. The “S” in HTTPS stands for “secure,” which means the data exchanged between a browser and a website is encrypted. Any website that asks for sensitive data like login credentials should use HTTPS.

JavaScript (JS)

JavaScript is a programming language that allows engineers to input complex features on a web page and make it interactive. JS improves the user experience by making static web pages more engaging. Common examples of JavaScript-enabled elements are search boxes, interactive maps, and animations.

jQuery

jQuery is a compact JavaScript library that simplifies the method of using JavaScript. jQuery takes long lines of code and condenses them into a single line.

Library

Libraries store prewritten, reusable lines of code that developers can use to create apps and websites quicker and easier.

Metadata

Put simply, metadata is data that describes other data. It’s an additional layer of code that structurally summarizes important information to help software identify and sort data. 

Meta Description

The meta description is an HTML element that briefly summarizes and describes a webpage’s content for search engines. A page’s meta description is shown as a short overview on a search engine results page, which helps the user get an idea of what the page is about and how it relates to their search.

Meta Tags

Meta Tags are part of the metadata and include the meta description and meta title. They provide information about a webpage directly in the page’s HTML. Search engines use meta tags to understand and sort through information on the webpage.

Meta Title

Often different from the page’s title, the meta title succinctly describes a webpage’s topic and usually includes keywords that can be retrieved and ranked by search engines.

Minification

Minification shrinks code and markups to reduce file sizes, load times, and bandwidth usage on websites and apps. This process improves site performance and accessibility, which helps deliver a better user experience.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The MVP is an early version of the product built with simple features and using the fewest amount of resources. Feedback from the MVP helps developers and designers improve the product.

Non-functional Requirements

Non-functional requirements describe a product or software’s quality attributes or operation standards. They often answer a user’s needs, defining and ensuring a system’s usability and effectiveness.

Operating System (OS)

An operating system is the main software that manages a computer’s hardware, resources, and basic functions. It helps users run applications on any device.

Plug-In

A plug-in is a software extension or add-on that can be installed into an existing program to add new features and optimize its capabilities.

Responsive Design

This is an approach that makes sure websites and pages automatically adapt to different devices and screen sizes.

Schema Markup

A schema markup is code that can be added to a web page’s HTML to provide more information, so search engines can better understand and sort the content. 

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

A Secure Sockets Layer is the standard protocol for establish encrypted links between a server and a website or browser. This guarantees that any and all data transferred between the server and browser is secure.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

A Uniform Resource Locator is the fancy term for a web address. It’s an identifier that’s used to locate specific resource or web page on the internet. The URL always begins with a website’s domain name. 

Wireframe

Every product needs a blueprint and that’s what a website’s wireframe is. Taking the user journey into account, it lays out a site or a page’s basic structure, functionality, and information architecture.

Product Design Glossary

Web development and product design lingo often overlap, so take some time to read the Big Human Product Design Jargon Buster.

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