The List for Web Designers

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Glossaries

Term Main definition
Keywords

OK, so this one is stretching our web design A-Z list a bit. However, keywords do play their part in search engine optimization and web marketing, which relates to web design. Marketing has an unbelievable level of influence on the success of the website projects you build.

Marketing your website can be done on-page, off-page and even totally offline.

While marketing may appear like child’s play, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Advertising, SEO, conferences, meet-ups, sponsorship, social networking, viral promotions, PPC, optimizing your site’s markup, distributing freebies that provide a link back to your site, and many other methods exist. Knowing about keywords, and about SEO and marketing, gives you a leg up. These things, though, are intrinsically going to be a part of the sites you build if you follow web design and web development best practices.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 138
JavaScript

JavaScript tends to scare beginning web designers off due to it being more complex than the simple markup language they’re likely more familiar with (HTML). However, JavaScript does play an instrumental part in making modern websites, and especially web applications. JavaScript enhances the user experience through asynchronous, real-time updating of web pages when an event is triggered (such as a click) through a technique collectively known as Ajax. JavaScript also provides slick interactivity and smooth effects that, by design, is aimed to improve interaction tasks.

JS frameworks like jQuery aid agile development.

JavaScript does have its limits (and for a good reason, as it could be used to exploit vulnerabilities in a user’s computer) and it may not always be available on a user’s browser because it can be disabled. Just like Flash, the best practice for JavaScript is that a web page should be usable and accessible without JavaScript.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 119
Interaction Design

Back in the early days of the internet, web pages were static. We have evolved past that boring era, and now we have pages filled with stuff that moves, responds to user actions, and provides rich components for our visitors that improve their experience (e.g. web forms and real-time information widgets). Interaction design focuses on the philosophy that websites should be utilitarian.

Getting visitors to interact with your site requires an engaging and useful experience.

Whether you use polls, have contact forms, or host a forum — knowing solid interaction design principles is a worthwhile pursuit.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 123
Ethnography

Let’s face it, your site’s most important component are the visitors who spend their time browsing your pages. The subjects of Ethnography and, to a greater extent, sociology, are based around the need to understand your audience. It involves collecting meaningful data through studies and research in order to determine the optimal design for a site.

Statistics, such as those from W3Counter, help you understand an audience.

While you may think people are all relatively the same, the cultural differences within us have effects in the way our designs are perceived. It’s worth learning about sociology, even in just a fundamental level.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 90
Debugging

Sometimes your code doesn’t work in the way that you intended. The need for debugging has only increased with the range of web languages we now use, the more complex styles of designs we produce, and the chaotic amount of browsers — that now includes the Mobile Web — we need to support. Ensuring that your code works (and works well) has become a skill that all designers should possess.

Firebug is an awesome browser extension for debugging front-end source code.

Being able to surgically resolve rendering issues requires a deep and insightful knowledge of the languages you work with, patience, experience, and critical thinking skills.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 78
CSS

CSS is the primary method of styling HTML elements. It’s what makes a boring page look visually stunning. 

Cross-browser compatibility is an issue with CSS — so it’s important that you validate your code, know all of the selectors, properties and values you can work with, and consider the browsers’ needs. If you’re thinking of expanding your knowledge of CSS for future-standards-compliant browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox, now is a good time to learn about how you can progressively enhance your web designs with CSS3.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 82
Browsers

Every internet-enabled device has software that makes those lovely pages of yours viewable by users. The browser is that software, and it is among the most vital elements of the web experience. Most browsers these days render sites uniformly, but old browsers like IE6 may give you issues.

If you see a person using Internet Explorer 6, you may as well abandon all hope!

While hundreds of browsers exist, there are at least five major browsers that you should be concerned about: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera. A web designer having all of these browsers installed on their work machine for testing purposes is not a bad idea. In addition, testing on mobile devices (using their native browsers) is also recommended.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 145
Synonyms - prospect, shopper, window-shopper buyer, correspondent, purchaser, vendee bargainer, haggler consumer, end user, user regular
Accessibility

Accessibility is one of the most critical aspects of our job, as many individuals browse the web with impairments that require non-traditional means of website access, such as screen readers and input-assistive devices. Accessibility, though, is also about universal design; designs that can be used through various situations such as mobile devices or older browsers. While there is no clear definition as to how far accessibility extends, a range of best practices to help certain conditions (such as visual, aural, and motor impairments) have been produced. If you’re not already aware of such issues, it’s well worth investigating further.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a great place to begin looking at the subject of accessibility.

Laws in many countries influence the need for web-accessible websites as a result of governments seeking to give its citizens equal access to information technology. Most web designers can implement accessibility standards at a basic level just by following web standards and best practices, and these implementations often improve the quality of the site produced, even for able-bodied site visitors. Web accessibility is quite an intricate subject, and will require time and experience to learn fully, but knowing that your products provide universal access makes it worth the extra effort.

Author - Richard Baker
Hits - 143
Synonyms - approachable, reachable. easily approached. come-at-able, get-at-able, getatable. capable of being reached or attained. handy, ready to hand.