Click on a term to see its definition.
A/B testing is a form of quantative user testing done on a live site. Users are presented with one of 2 possible variations of content. Their actions are then analysed in order to determine which gives the best outcome. The outcome will generally be a sale, enquiry or similar. Our friends at Google offer the most cost effective way of doing this - not surprisingly! You can of course pay tens of thousands of pounds for enterprise applications but then you will be in the realms of Multi Variant Testing.
Acceptance level/Acceptance criteria
A list of criteria that the final product must meet before the customer will accept them. They should be agreed by the customer and supplier at the project initiation stage in traditional projects or at stages through the project in more agile environments.
In Web terms this is all about ensuring that every single user out there can use all of the functionality on a site. This ranges from using colour carefully to cater for the colour blind through ensuring that the technology doesn't exclude users to catering for users who can't see your site at all or perhaps cannot use a keyboard or mouse. By developing to the standards set out by the W3C and others we take pride that out output is as inclusive as possible.
Agile software development
Another tricky one to define succinctly but here goes. Agile software development is a group of processes based on an iterative rather than waterfall approach. It places the emphasis on short activity periods in which cross functional; self-organising teams deliver functioning subsets of the full feature list. It manages change quickly and efficiently.
This refers to the way in which content elements change their appearance as the user interacts with them. For example a navigation tab may change colour to highlight itself as the user hovers the mouse over it. A link may change colour one it's been selected.
Android is an operating system developed by Google. Well, it's actually developed by the Open Handset Alliance but that feels pretty much like Google to us. It has been developed primarily for smartphones and tablets.
You'll hear this term particularly if you're dealing with open source content management systems. It's an open source HTTP Web Server that has passed the test of time having been originally developed in 1995. It is efficient, secure and extensible and can be deployed on Windows or Linux operating systems.
Application Program Interfaces are used for software applications or components to talk to each other. As a development agency we may need to interface with a customers (or a third party) system. An API would often be used to do this. "We already have an API for that" is amongst our most favourite phrases.
Beacons are used in commination with cookies. Typically they are 1 pixel x 1 pixel transparent images placed into the page so as to be invisible. They affectively act as a marker as they will be called into the page from a different web server. This occurrence can therefore be recorded.
Beta is a software development phase which follows it's less heralded cousin Alpha (but then you guessed that). It is normally the first release of the software which is feature complete. It's generally the first point at which the software is released outside of the development team for testing by customers or perhaps a wider community who feedback to the developers. It may be unstable and will have bugs but should be usable.
A browser is a software application which allows the user to access, retrieve and present files from the World Wide Web. The file can be identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier of a link in another page. If you've never applied much thought to such things you are probably using Internet Explorer or, if you are a Mac user, Safari. Google may have persuaded you to install Chrome or you may have discovered Firefox.
Pronounced "cashing". This is an area of memory which stores a web page so that it does not have to be downloaded (or in some cases constructed) each time the user requires it. It might be cached on the web server which hosts the website, in the users browser or anywhere in between. Can provide somewhat problematical in testing when the tester is viewing a cached page rather than the amended version. For Internet Explorer users the term Temporary Internet Files is used for cached pages.
A canonical tag defines to search engines which URL is the authoritative one where similar or even identical content can be accessed though one or more URLs. For example the exact same page may be delivered by http://www.example.com or http://www.example.com/index.html
A Content Management System is a tool which allows a user to efficiently manage the content on one or more websites. They range from small, lightweight open source systems to enterprise versions.
Website content which is only delivered to certain users or in certain situation for example pages which are only available to logged in users or at a certain time of day. Content used in A/B testing or Multivariate testing is by definition conditional
A piece of content or a group of them which is displayed or can be displayed on a web page
A cookie is a text file stored on a users computer by the browser when a particular website is visited. it contains information about the user which is retrieved by the webserver when the user returns to the website. This is how Facebook is able to present you with your own personalised page when you navigate to the homepage at www.facebook.com. Try amending your browser settings to stop cookies being set and see how it changes your browsing experience. There is a darker side to cookies which is why the EU has recently legislated to dictate that cookies may only be set once the users "informed consent" has been obtained. We have recently written a White Paper on the subject.
Cascading Style Sheets are files which define how the content of a website is presented. They separate the content itself from the presentation layer in order to give uniformity. They deal with fonts, colours and the like and make amendments easier. They can also be used to present the content differently on varying devices such s desktop browsers, mobile phones, tablets or even tactile braille readers,
A call to action is an element on a page that encourages the user to take an action such as getting a quote, requesting a brochure, reading more, linking the content in their social media. Your call to action should be clear and unambiguous.
A dedicated server is a server which is allocated to a specific website or customer without having the be shared with others. The server will be owned by the provider who will also offer maintenance services. The uncontended use of the server and it's services is sometimes the more cost effective solution for sites requiring higher bandwidth.
The page within a content managed website, or section of a website which is returned in the absence of any further direction. For example, a websites home page is normally a default. The page www.example.com may well not exist so the page www.example.com/index.html is returned.
Design Concepts are where the designer presents their first interpretation of the design. They may be presented as images or prototypes and will cover enough of the pages and content elements to give the customer enough information for them to "sign-off" on the approach and allow the concepts to be developed. Alternative concepts may be developed but a single path is generally chosen from them.
Usually images (but not always photographs) these are the inputs that developers (or content editors) need from the designers to create websites. Many of these will be contained within the PSD files which make up the designs but the creation or sourcing of imagery (ie photos) will be a separate task and often time consuming task.
The Domain Name System (or Service or even possible Server) is one of those which can be easy to define but very difficult to fully understand. All server locations on the internet are defined by numeric IP Addresses. The DNS system is the means by which the more familiar alphanumeric website addresses (or URLs) that we all use are translated to the correct IP address.
Content within a web page which changes based on the users inputs. Usually without calling back to the web server to do so.
The means of buying or selling products or services over computer networks including the internet. Includes the means of product selection and payment as well as user and account management.
An extranet is a website which allows controlled access to a restricted set of users outside of the organisation to which it belongs. These users often include the likes of customers, suppliers, members vendors or other such partners.
Fluid Design is a mostly outdated concept where the layout of a webpage adapts based on the available width of the desktop browser displaying it. Content elements would generally change width (basen on a percentage of the overall page width) but not much else. Now largely replaced by the concept of Responsive Design.
Software which is available through a licence which does not require a mandatory payment. Access to the source code is not usually provided and there will be restrictions inherent in the licence.
File Transfer Protocol. The network protocol for the transfer of files (normally large in size) over the internet. This is often achieved using software applications know as FTP clients. The files are uploaded to or downloaded from websites (or sections of websites) configured as FTP sites. Many hosting providers will offer FTP as a means of uploading the files required to maintain a website.
The functional specification will, based on Wireframes, define exactly how the application or site will behave as well as its structure. Used in conjunction with designs and possibly a technical specification it is a key document for all project stakeholders to understand and sign up to.
Global styling refers to they styles which apply across an entire site or a site section. They will be applied from a global style sheet.
Hyper Text Markup Language is a Markup Language rather than a programming language (important to remember that one when talking to developers). It defines the actual content of a web page and contained 'tags' which are used by CSS to define how that content will look. For example HTML will define that there is a main heading which will read "Main Heading". It will indicate that it is the main heading of the page by tagging it as an H1 like this: <h1>Main Heading</h1>. CSS will define the font, size, colour and another presentational details of this and any other similarly tagged content on the website.
HyperText Transfer Protocol is, in simple terms, the protocol on which the internet operates. If defines how messages are formatted and transferred between browsers and webservers. The first use of this protocol was by Tim Berners Lee who is regarded as the 'inventor' of the internet.
HyperText Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer (SSL). HTTP with encryption and secure identification of servers. A basic level of security used for any sensitive transfers such as of user details or payment information. Look for https:// in the address bar of your browser to indicate that this is being used. Different browsers use symbols (such as padlocks) of colour to indicate this as well.
Internet Information Services is a Microsoft application and set of services used for managing websites on a Windows server. It manages URLs, Security and the like.
Set by the Government this is a 6 level scale (from 1 (unclassified) to 6 (top secret)) on which the impact of the compromise of information assets is assessed. This in turn dictates the control measures required to manage that risk. So, an infrastructure which meets the standards required for Confidential information is said to be IL3 compliant. There is a direct relationship with standard protective markings if you are familiar with such things.
Information Commissioners Office
UK government agency that is responsible for enforcing data protection laws in the UK
The Information Architect at bss digital is the person who is responsible for combining the customers requirements with their knowledge and experience of technology, usability and the site or applications intended user to define its structure, layout and functionality. Their primary output is the Functional Specification but they will be involved in the project through its lifecycle.
An intranet is a website (or network) which allows controlled access to a restricted set of users consist of those inside of the organisation to which it belongs.
A string of numbers which is a unique identifier for each computer on the internet.
Stakeholder feedback is continuously integrated into the prototype implementation throughout the process, with each iterative release converging on the final release.
This may refer to the layout of the page. A term borrowed from print design to indicate where different content elements will appear on a page. May also refer to the layout of HTML or similar.
See Fluid design
Log or Log Files
These are text files generated by the website or the webserver which records, with a timestamp, information about how the website is operating. Used mostly by the likes of us when investigating problems!
A difficult one to define this but here goes.. .NET is a software framework which provides an application framework which enables developers to produce applications to work on Windows environments with relative ease. It allows the use of many different programming languages. Much of or development is done in .NET but it's not a technology to which we are wed.
As per A/B testing but with more combinations
Software for which the source code is made available to developers. For use, modification or distribution provided that modifications and derived works are distributed on the same basis. Open source software is often developed in a collaborative manner.
Picture Elements are the components which make up images on screens and monitors. Each pixel can only be one colour at a time.
Pay Per Click is a model by which Search Engines promote links when certain search terms are used in return for a charge based on the number of times that link is selected. In Google, these are the links towards the top of the page on a different background colour and those on the right of the page.
Files created by Adobe's Photoshop applications are known as PSDs after their .psd file extension. These files are produced by designers and used by developers to implement the design.
Nothing to do with Monty - well not exactly anyway. Python is a highly powerful programming language which is extremely readable to us humans (as opposed to developers). At this point any definition soon heads off into tech speak but our developers love it and use it often. It must be good.
Rapid feedback and collaborative decision making
Communication between the web developer and the stakeholders needs to be effective and immediate to ensure that the process is not held up because agreement cannot be formed on specific implementation details.
Release early, release often
As soon as a feature, design element or interaction behaviour is implemented; it is made available for review and feedback. A feature of Agile development processes.
In a Responsive Design (think Fluid Design +) the width and orientation of the browser in use is key but so is the capabilities o the device and its interface. In this way content elements may change shape, size, position and appearance as well as even being replaced with other, more appropriate content. We would recommend that this approach be considered for all websites in order to be able to give the most cost effective approach to delivering a great browsing experience to all users.
Really Simple Syndication is a standardised system of formatting data so that it can be read by a client reader. The reader will then aggregate the feeds from a number of blogs, news pages or the like allowing the users to easily keep up to date with web pages which change frequently.
Search engine robots and spiders
Search engines use programs called robots or crawlers to 'spider' the web creating copies of web pages that can later be indexed. Starting with a list of URLs they will read all of the URLs linked to on those pages and in this way build a list for future attention.
Search Engine Marketing is the umbrella name for all of the techniques used to market a website through search engines including natural search engine optimisation as well as paid for services such as PPC.
A semantic markup is one which contains meaning outside of presentational information. So a markup which contains the element <data Field 1>bss digital</data Field 1> is not sematic - <company>bss digital</company> is.
Search Engine Optimisation is any action, process or configuration used to improve the search engine ranking of a webpage. There are many different people and companies out there who offer their opinions on this subject but a well built website with correctly considered content is the key. It's important to optimise your website for its users. Optimisation for search engines is to some extent a natural by product.
A website recognised a user by session management. For example a user should not be required to log in when they request a different web page from within the same website. The website will maintain a session so that the "user" is recognised. A session may expire after a certain period of in activity or my a user action such as closing a browser or logging out. See also cookies.
Shared servers are those at the budget end of the hosting market which host multiple websites for multiple customers. Mostly used for small scale and often non commercial sites.
Typically used as an intranet solution and occasionally for websites, Microsoft SharePoint is a quick distributable way of delivering web based collaborative tools. It is most often used for content management, document management, CRM and workflow.
Shareware is software which, while it must be paid for in time, is initially offered for a period at no charge. The free trial period is used to allow the prospective customer to try the fully featured product before committing to a financial outlay.
Pronounced as is 'sequel' Structured Query Language is a language which is used to define queries which are used to select and organise records in a database. More important than you would imagine as Content Managed Websites will store content in a database.
Secure Socket Layer and encryption protocol used to provide the secure transmission of data over the internet. See HTTPS.
A style guide gives designers the "rules" which those implementing designs must follow. It gives designers freedom whilst at the same time ensuring that the brand is not compromised. Web style guidelines are often overlooked.
European Privacy Directive (2002/58/EC)
A European directive that is primarily concerned with the protection of privacy in electronic communications, for both individuals and organisations - even when the information being collected is not personally identifiable. It covers all electronic communications, which includes the Internet.
Uniform Resource Locator is the address of a website, page or resource on the internet. They include the protocol to be used. The name/address of the host computer and the path to the file or page. So in the case of the url http://www.bssdigital.net/glossary the protocol is http, the webserver and site are defined by www.bssdigital.net and the specific page by its path of /glossary.
Usability is the concept of how users can easily and efficiently interact with a website or application in order to achieve their aims. It should be at the core of everything a development agency does from requirements gathering; functional, visual and technical design, technology selection, development and testing.
User Journeys are a way of viewing a websites structure based on use scenarios. A persona is developed for types of users. The designed will then examine how these users would interact with and navigate through the site to meet the business need e.g.; finding a product, making an enquiry, obtaining a certain piece of information.
User-centric design methodology
This is a design approach which anchors the design and build process around the user. The process involves the following steps: 1. Specifying the context of use (who will use it, what for and how?). 2. Specifying Requirements (what are the requirements of the users and the business/organisation. 3. Creating designs. 4. Evaluating designs.
Virtualisation is where a single computer is used to operate multiple instances of an operating system. The instances are referred to as Virtual Machine's (VM's). This provides savings in terms of hardware provision and maintenance. Internally it allows many combinations of Operating Systems and software installations on a single physical machine.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. The Community is led by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the web) and has over 350 members ranging from the likes of Google and Microsoft through educational and research organisations and government bodies.
The Web Accessibility Initiative is the W3C's Strategies, guidelines, resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities. Through the WAI the W3C produces guidelines such as Web Accessibility Guidelines. When you see reference to websites being "A", "double A" or "triple A" compliant the compliance referred to is to WCAG.
The analysis of data gathered by measuring the user journey on a website in order to optimise the site. Often used in conjunction with A/B or multivariate testing.
A wireframe is a diagram showing the various elements that will be present on a web page. They are generally produced without any visual design as they are focussed on what the page does and what content elements it will contain rather than what it looks like or what the actual content is.
What You See Is What You Get (pronounced wiz-ee-wig). An editor used in a CMS which displays the content while you are editing it in a form very closely matching that in which it will appear on the website page when that content is published.
eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language. A markup language which is derived (confusingly) is similar to HTML but follows the rules of XML and brings advantages over HTML but these are largely for the developer.