The Term Game: An ABC of the WWW
Discussing the World Wide Web can sometimes feel like a pretty overwhelming bunch of technical terms, especially for those of us who don’t interact with it on a regular basis.
How can something inside a screen have its own architecture? And what is breadcrumb navigation if it’s not a secret map leading to snacks?
Wondering the same? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve put together a short dictionary of the terms often associated with all things web-related. So grab a coffee, put your feet up, and get ready to learn.
A web page is an online document written in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) or XHTML (eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language). This markup language is then interpreted by a browser and displayed as visual and audible web pages. The actual layout of a web page is defined by CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), scripts, and images. Web pages are linked together through so-called hyperlinks.
The sitemap of a website is an overview of all web pages that are included on the website. The sitemap shows how the different web pages are linked and helps the user gain a conceptual understanding of the site. Ideally, a sitemap is interactive and allows the user to go directly to the different pages.
The fold is an imaginary line that divides your website into two parts. The part above the fold is what you see immediately after loading a website in your browser. The part below the fold can only be seen after scrolling down the page. So depending on the size of your browser or screen, the position of the fold can vary. Try to place your most relevant information and links above the fold.
The header of a web page describes a structural element which helps to better divide content. A header is always located at the very top of a web page and usually includes a company’s name, logo, and the main navigation. Usually, this header reoccurs on all pages of a website and is used to give a quick overview of the site’s purpose as well as its information architecture.
Information architecture describes the way information is presented on a website. This includes three main aspects:
1. The structure of the information, such as which elements to link and which categories to group
2. The design and flow of the navigation
3. The wording of different content elements and categories
A well thought-out information architecture ensures website visitors will quickly and effortlessly find what they are looking for.
Navigation describes the way a user travels through a website in order to achieve their goal. Visitors want to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible, and if one site can’t lead them to it, there are a plethora of others offering the same service. When optimizing navigation, websites often use subtle tricks to lead the user to where they need them to be. An e-commerce site, for example, may aim to make navigation towards its profit generating areas much more visible.
Breadcrumbs are a form of navigation that help users to orientate within a website by indicating their current location. Breadcrumbs usually start at the home page and then list, step-by-step, the various web pages a user has visited to get to their current page. The listed steps are usually interactive and can be used to return to any page between the home page and the user’s current location.
Traffic describes the amount of data that users receive from and send to a website. The traffic of a web page is calculated from the number of page visitors and the number of file requests per visitor. When there is too much traffic for one web page it can result in denied access, however popular websites prevent this from happening by splitting the file requests of many users between several servers.
Unique Site Visitor
The number of unique site visitors indicates how many people have actually visited a particular web page. Web analytic tools identify visitors by their IP address which makes it possible to not only measure traffic but also see if visitors come to a site only once or several times. If visitors return, they are still counted as one unique site visitor.
The “404 not found” error is a server response to being unable to return a requested link to a user – because of a broken link or due to a page being moved or deleted. Hence becoming one of the most recognizable errors we find when browsing. The non-threatening nature of the 404 and its abundance has led to the rise of comical 404 pages.
And there we have it. Any website terms you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments or shoot us a tweet @usabilla.