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Understanding What Your Web Designer is Talking About

By November 2, 2017May 23rd, 2020Design Tips

Learn web designer jargon and improve your communications in the web design process

This is part of our ongoing “Design Tips for Clients” series. Whether you’re one of our clients or you’re looking to learn about design, we’ll give you an introduction to color, typography, industry jargon and much more.

Have you ever been talking with your web designer and they use a term you’ve never heard before, leaving you lost?

We’re sorry. We don’t mean to confuse you.

Like most people, we sometimes forget our industry jargon isn’t common place. If your designer mentions a term or topic that you’re not sure about, ask them to explain it more. Part of the web designer role is to keep you informed. If you don’t understand what we’re talking about, then we’re not succeeding at that aspect of our job.

You should always feel comfortable asking your designer to clarify what they have said. However, if you like looking things up on your own, we’ve put together a reference guide of terms you might hear your web designer use.


Accessibility is the concept of making website content available to all users, specifically those who may have a disability. To accomplish this, web designers will employ techniques throughout your website that help people with vision, hearing, or other disabilities to navigate your website. For the most part, these techniques are in the code, so you won’t know they’re there. However, making your business website available to everyone can help to increase traffic to your business.


The back end of a website refers to the components that are not seen by visitors, such as the information structure, applications, or content management system.


The term is traditionally heard when talking about newspapers. However, the concept can be applied to web design. “Below the fold” refers to the content that appears on the bottom half of a newspaper page. This content is secondary to that that appears above the fold.

So in web design, the information that appears above the fold is the information you want the visitors to see when they first land on your site. It needs to get their attention so they scroll down or click through the site. The information below the fold should expand on keeping your visitor’s attention, but it should not be of more importance that what appeared at the top of the page.


Body copy refers to the paragraphs or text that make up the bulk of text content on a website.


A browser is an application that allows users to access the web. Common browsers include Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge. Every web browser has different standards, so your content may look a little different across web browsers and web browser versions.


A call-to-action is a button or link that tells the reader to do something, such as “Buy Now” or “Sign up for our newsletter.” These are used to encourage the user to complete and action and are an important part of converting visitors into buyers.


Cascading style sheets (CSS) are web documents that contain the styles for your website. For example, these documents will contain instructions for the size, font, color, and placement of headlines and body copy. CSS also contains instructions for adding special effects, such as drop-shadows or rollovers (when you hover on a link it may change size or color to indicate an action can be taken). CSS documents are important to creating the look and tone of your website.


A content management system, or CMS, is an interface application that allows a website owner to easily make changes or updates to their website. The most commonly used CMS is WordPress, which allows users to maintain blogs, online stores, and change the look and layout of your website and doesn’t require the user to know how to code.


A domain is the name that identifies your website. For example, the Raving software domain is “” Your domain name should be easy for users to remember and spell, match your business, and not be too long.


E-commerce, or electronic commerce, is the buying and selling of goods online. These products can be physical (clothes) or digital (music). As people shop online more, it’s important for any business that sells a product or service (allow customers to be able to book an appointment and pay in advance if possible) to have an online presence and be able to sell and handle payments online.


A favicon is a small icon that appears to the left of the website address in the web address bar. They are usually the logo for the company, which helps the visitor to know they have typed in the right web address.


A font usually refers to the different variations of a typeface, such as Times New Roman Bold or Times New Roman Italic.


Font-family is a CSS attribute that establishes a default font to use for an element along with backups. The fonts a user sees are determined on the fonts installed on the user’s computer. One way to ensure the content displayed as desired, or as close to as desired as possible, is for your designer to use the font-family attribute to set backup fonts if the first is not available. For example, suppose you want Helvetica to be the primary font used for body copy. Your designer may set backup fonts to be Arial or just a general san serif if Helvetica is not available. This ensures that the content look and legibility is maintained across devices.


The font-style attribute is mainly used to make text italicized.


The font-weight attribute is used to change the weight, or thickness, of text. For example, your designer can set the font-weight to bold or bolder to increase the thickness of the text, or lighter to make the characters look thinner than normal.


The front end is the part of the website a visitor can see, such as the pages, images, video, text content, etc. It is the part that allows the visitor to access the content.


A hero image is a main image that appears at the top of the webpage. It is usually the width of the page, or very large.


Hosting involves using web servers to store and maintain a website. When a website is hosted by a web server, it can be accessed by web users.


The landing page is the page a visitor “lands on” after clicking or following the main website URL (see Raving Software’s home page). The landing page is usually the home page of a website, but many websites have a separate landing page that often include an “Enter Site” button so the visitor can access the rest of the site.


Navigation is generally known as the menu bar, which is located at the top of a website. It allows you click or navigate your way through a website. Most websites use a fixed navigation so that it can be accessed regardless of how far down a user has scrolled. Navigation menus are often repeated at the bottom of a webpage so the user doesn’t have to scroll all the way to the top of the page to move throughout the site.


A plug-in is usually a third-party application that is used with a CMS, such as WordPress, to extend the capabilities or function of a platform. For example, WooCommerce is a popular e-commerce plug-in used on WordPress that allows people to run and maintain an online store.


Responsive design, also known as mobile-friendly design, refers to ensuring your website displays and performs seamlessly whether it’s accessed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or cell phone.


Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is a technique used to increase a website’s ranking on web search result pages. The higher a website appears in the search result rankings, the more visitors (and potential customers) a website is likely to receive. While organic (free) SEO tactics can improve your SEO rankings, paid SEO will have a greater effect.


A sitemap is a hierarchal list of the pages in your website. It can appear at the bottom of each web page or on its own page. It is important for web crawlers because it returns those links to search engines and helps your website to appear in search results. It is also helpful for users as it provides an easy way to navigate through the website.


A typeface is generally used to refer to the overall font family name, such as Times New Roman or Helvetica.


White space isn’t necessarily white, it can be whatever color the background of your website is. White space is the empty space that appears around the contents on your website. It is used to add breathing room between elements or sections, and can help guide viewers through the content. White space helps users to not feel overwhelmed by too much information crammed onto a page. Your website needs to be visually appealing to visitors and white space is an important element in creating that visual appeal.


Wireframes are simple layouts of a website that focus on the structure and functionality (how the website will work) of a website. These are created in the early stages of website development and don’t contain any design styles. The point is create the “skeleton” of the website and make sure everyone understands how its expected work.


Sources: “25 Web Design and Development Terms Every Marketer Should Know” by Alex Mercer and “Web Design Industry Jargon and Web Terms: Glossary and Resources” by Cameron Chapman.

Is there a design topic you want to know more about? Let us know in the comments or contact us through email.

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