Glossary of Web and Print Design Terms

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alt text
a hidden description of an image on a web site - helps visitors who are blind and search engines know what them images represent
banner ads
rectangular ads on web pages, which when clicked lead the visitor to the advertiser's site. A 'banner' is usually a horizontal ad found at the top of a page, as opposed to a 'skyscraper', which is a vertical ad found in a column
short for 'web log'. An easily updated online journal.
context-sensitive file paths which appear on each page to help you know where you are in a site
the program on a computer that presents the Internet. For example, Explorer and Safari are popular browsers. Each browser interprets the code of a web page slightly differently.
change format styles button
A button which allows the user to change web page format, such as font size or background colour
comma-delimited file
a spreadsheet or database file that contains data only, in which the contents of the different fields in a record are separated by commas, and the records are separated by paragraph marks. Less common than a tab-delimited file. This type of file is an easy way to move data from one program to another.
contact-us form
a form encouraging the visitor to write an email message to the site owner. A form is more reliable than a 'mailto' link.
control panel
Your web host may offer what is called a control panel. This would be a password-protected web page which would give access to many available features, include traffic analysis, email set-up and more.
CMYK colour
colour scheme which is used for document to be produced by offset printing. Stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow K (black). Graphics for computer monitors are usually in RGB (Red Green Blue) format.
Cascading Style Sheet. This is a document that sets the presentation styles for a web document, such as font colour and size, border and margins, line-spacing and many other features. By having all the formatting information in a central place, the actual web pages can be more quickly updated site wide, among many other benefits. Many web sites still have 'embedded formatting', which makes web sites larger in file size and harder to update.
description meta tag
a description of a page hidden in the source code - the text people will see in a search engine listing
DNS setting
Domain Name Server. The DNS setting, maintained by your domain registrar, points people browsing for '' to the specific web host where your web site resides. They do this by redirecting the request to the IP address of your host.
a unique address in the form of a name, such as '' or ''. Related to but not the same as an IP address.
domain registrar
the company that licenses your domain for you Your domain registrar and web host can be two different companies. Once you register your .com with one, we go to the registrar's settings to connect the domain to your web host, wherever it may be.
drop-down navigation
a list of related links that pops into view only when the cursor rolls over a main link button. This is a useful way to limit the basic navigation to about ten buttons, which unfold into more options at the visitors' whim.
any part of a web site or graphic image can be an element. Photos, text and forms are elements of a site, for example. Logos, photos, drawings and text can be components of a graphic design.
email link
also known as a 'mailto' link. When clicked, it opens the visitor's email program and allows them to send a message to the site owner. May not work if the person is on a machine they don't own.
escape characters
some characters are interpreted differently from computer to computer. Special characters must be referred to by an international number if they are to be displayed consistently. Also called 'special characters'
the tiny logo that appears to the left of web addresses in the address field of web browsers. They stick to links as well, so users can see them in their browsers' bookmark list.
software for creating and viewing interactive animation. Visitors require a plug-in reader in their browser, which nine out of ten people already have.
fly-out navigation; fly-u menu
extra navigation links that appear only when a category but is touched by the cursor. Similar to a drop-down menu, but usually appear to the side of a vertical menu, rather than dropping down from a horizontal menu.
a typeface as used in computer software, such as web browsers and graphics programs
a small program that lets the visitor change the typeface of a web page by clicking a button
a series of one or more windows (called 'fields' allowing the visitor to enter text and send it to the site owner. The various entries ('data') can be received by email, be processed automatically by software or added directly to a database.
online system that allows anyone in a public or private group to leave messages for all, and respond to existing messages. Responses to a message are organized together in 'threads'.
File Transfer Protocol - something like email, it allows one to upload files of any size to a remote computer. This is the method used to put web pages on your site. It can also be used to allow visitors to upload large files to a folder on your site for your use.
full bleed
a graphic design with elements that go to the very edge of the printed document
web pages built with code using XHTML, which designed to be extensible and thus not abandoned by site designers in future. Already, trying to support Explorer or Netscape versions below 5 takes unnecessary time. Worse, it embeds code that may fail in future as new standards take hold.
'guess what?' notice
a message that appear to folks using non-compliant browser on how to upgrade, as they canít see all the features of a standards-compliant site
head elements
information hidden in the code which gives the browser information such as a description of the site, international character set used, links to CSS and Javascript files, etc.
interactive animation
animation that changes according to visitor actions such as mouse-clicking, dragging or entering text in form fields
internet service provider (ISP)
the company that lets you view the Internet
a computer scripting language for providing interactivity on the Internet
words embedded in the code of the page to help search engines classify the content. Research and choice of keywords is a critical component of search engine optimization (SEO).
an arrangement of all the elements of a web page or print document. A project may have several layouts: for example, a web site could have a general navigation and columnar layout, a thumbnail page for reduced images, a page with forms, etc. One layout can be repeated over many pages. In this case, the layout may be built into a template which can serve as a master document to make all resulting documents updatable from a single source.
layout, fixed
a site layout that is always the same width on the monitor, usually centered or left-aligned on the visitorís screen
layout, liquid
more expansive: a browser layout that automatically stretches to fill the visitorís screen
link button page
this is a place to make your preferred link code available. It is placed in such a way as to allow the code to be visible, so that it can be grabbed by people linking to you to insert on their links pages. Having links to your site from other people helps you place higher in search engine listings.
link buttons
if at all possible, you want to get people to link to you. Search engines care deeply about how many links are pointed to your site. A link button is a small graphic, usually your logo, attached to html code that provides a text link for the visitor and hidden search terms for the engines. You ask online registries and people with related sites to link to you, hopefully using a small graphic and the code you provide.
links page
A page on a web site linking to different web sites which will benefit your target audience. This may include directories, resources, software, professional in related fields, and sites which provide a link back to your site as well.
meta tags
portions of the hidden code in a web page that tell the world how to view and classify the page. They also convey information such as copyright, title, description and keywords; vital elements for search engines.
navigation art
artwork that accompanies the navigation links. Often found at the top or left side of a web page, usually consistently found on every page of a site, it will include the logo and site title.
navigation links
buttons that take the visitor to the main sections of the site
O, P
page title
a name for a web page that appears in the top of the browser window, which clarifies the subject of a page and helps search engines index your site
Paypal - a fee-based service that can process credit card transactions from any web site. It relieves the site owner of needing to open a merchant account with Visa or Mastercard.
PDF files
Portable Document Format - a 'universal' format for presenting pages that can be read and printed by most computers
permission marketing
by compiling a contact list of people who have given their permission for you to send email or other communications you broaden your ability to send up-to-date information and new offers to a targeted audience. Gather such a list using an 'opt-in' newsletter form on your web site, and by providing a sign-up list at events.
Hypertext preprocessor. It allows web pages to change depending on input from code embedded in the source code of a page or data entered by a visitor.
placeholder page
When you have registered your domain and set up your web host, you have a web site with no content. A placeholder page is a single page with a bit of information to look at while your site is being developed. It usually provides your business name and contact info. You can display a message about what you do as well. The simpler, the better, as you generally want to put your development budget into the site itself. You can promise the arrival of the site which is under development, but only if you're pretty sure you can meet your own deadline.
privacy statement
a policy document to let visitors know what the site owners plan to do with information visitors enter into forms
a version of a graphic or other project element made available to a client for approval
Quicktime movie
a widely-used video format developed by Apple for use on the Internet an CD-ROM
RGB colour
Graphics for computer monitors and digital printing often use the RGB (Red Green Blue) scheme for colour rendition, but not for offset printing, which uses CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow K [black]).
rich media
graphics which blend several formats, such as still, video, animation and interaction
rotating content
web page content which changes automatically on a regular basis
search engine
an online service which catalogues web pages and presents listings of site relevant to keywords submitted by the user
search engine optimization
a collection of processes with the goal of making a web page or site understandable to search engine spiders, ideally to place high on results pages
send-to-a-friend button
a button which when clicked goes to a page that allows the visitor to put in an email address of a friend and send them a prepared message describing the site and it's URL
shopping cart system
A database system allowing purchase of items from an online catalogue
site description
a description of a page hidden in a 'meta tag' in the source code - the text people will see in a search engine listing
site map
A text list of all the pages on a site, to help people and search engines find their way around
special characters
some characters are interpreted differently from computer to computer. Special characters must be referred to by an international number if they are to be displayed consistently. Also called 'escape characters'
site statistics
information provided by the web host about visitors to your web site. See 'traffic analysis'.
the subjective quality of how compelling a web page is, and how likely it is that the visitor will stay longer, explore deeper, and ultimately fulfill the objectives of the web site. Factors that increase 'stickiness' include ease of navigation; fast loading speed; clear and possibly unique content of use to the visitor; and attractive (but not distracting) graphics.
style sheet
a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) document with centralized formatting instructions for your site text and layout
links to various pages within a certain section of a web site
tab-deliminated file
When you want to move tabular data such as contact information, you can export it from the program you created it in as a tab-deliminated file. A tab-deliminated file puts tab characters in between each piece of information in a record, and a paragraph character between each record. This will make it readable in both spreadsheets and word processors. Another option is the comma-deliminated file.
a central document that establishes the page layout for a number of 'slave pages'. This allows easy and consistent creation of new pages, as well as site-wide corrections and updates.
a small version of an image which serves as a button linking to a larger version of the same image.
traffic analysis
the process of deciphering site statistics. The main thing would be to see how many people are looking at your site. Then when you do a mail out or other advertising, you can see exactly how big an increase in the traffic you get. The other big thing is to see how many pages each person views ( a way to figure out if the site is Ďstickyí or not) and whether they come back again later. If they keep coming back to one or two pages in particular that will help you know their priorities. Iíd give this one hour to access the panel, look at the figures and give you a bit of a breakdown on whatís there now.
user-updatable page content
portions of a page which can be updated by the site owner with minimal knowledge of web development. Can be as simple as a text file or as sophisticated as an online form-based system using a database.
virtual tour
a graphic presentation of a space, such as a building, using anything from slideshows to video to 360-degree animated panoramas
W, X, Y, Z
web directory
an online database of web pages organized by type. Some directories are free to join, others charge for listings. By listing your site in a web directory, you use the popularity of that site to help build the popularity of yours.
web host
The company that maintains the computers where your files reside, making them available to the Internet. This may or may not also be your Internet service provider and/or domain registrar.
web server
the computer where your web site files are held and are accessible to the Internet