Web Design Industry Jargon: Glossary and Resources


There are specialized terms referring to all sorts of aspects of web design. For someone just getting started in web design, or someone looking to have a site designed, all the technical jargon can be overwhelming. Especially the acronyms.

Below is a guide to industry terms that should get you well on your way to understanding what web designers are talking about. In addition, we’ve provided some resources for each term to give you more in-depth information.



Basically, this is the ability of a website to be used by people with disabilities, including visually impaired visitors using screen readers, hearing impaired visitors using no sound, color blind people, or those with other disabilities. A website with low accessibility is basically going to be impossible for those with disabilities to use. Accessibility is particularly important for sites providing information to those with disabilities (healthcare sites, government sites, etc.), though it is an important aspect to consider when designing any site.



Stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is typically used for creating dynamic web applications and allows for asynchronous data retrieval without having to reload the page a visitor is on. The JavaScript on a given page handles most of the basic functions of the application, making it perform more like a desktop program instead of a web-based one.


Anchor Text

The text a link uses to refer to your site. This can make a big difference in your site’s search engine results. See also: Backlink.


A portmanteau that combines “automatically” and “magically.” Generally, it refers to something that has a complex technical process that’s hidden from users, so that something almost appears to work by magic. If you think about it, many modern internet-based technologies could be classified as “automagical.”



Back End

The back end of a website is the part hidden from view of regular website visitors. The back end generally includes the information structure, applications, and the CMS controlling content on the site.


Backlinks are links from other sites back to your own. They’re sometimes also referred to as “trackbacks” (especially on blogs). Backlinks have a huge impact on your sites search rankings. Lots of backlinks from high-ranking sites can greatly improve your search engine results, especially if those links use keywords in their anchor text.

Bad Neighborhood

A “bad neighborhood” refers to the server where your site is hosted. A site hosted on a server that hosts other sites that spam or use black-hat SEO practices can end up penalized by search engines solely because of their proximity to those sites. In other words, be very careful about which web host you choose, what their terms of service are, and how strictly they enforce those terms if you want to avoid being penalized because of what your neighbors are doing. Linking to sites in bad neighborhoods can also have a negative effect on your search rankings.



Bandwidth can refer to two different things: the rate at which data can be transferred or the total amount of data allowed to be transferred from a web host during a given month (or other hosting service term) before overage charges are applied. It is generally referred to in term of bits-per-second (bps), kilobits per second (kbs), or other metric measurements. Lower bandwidth internet connections (such as dial-up) mean data loads slower than with high bandwidth connections (like cable or fiber).

Below the Fold

This term is a carry-over from newspaper publishing days. In newspaper terms, “below the fold” means content was on the bottom half of the page (below the physical fold in the paper). In web design terms, “below the fold” refers to the content that is generally going to be below the point first viewable to the average website visitor in their browser (in other words, viewers would have to scroll down to see the content).



Bounce Rate

A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave the site from the same page they entered the site, without clicking through to any other pages. This can be a good indicator of how good a website’s navigation is, as well as an indicator of the quality of the site’s content (a very high bounce rate doesn’t bode well for either of those things).


Breadcrumbs are the bit of navigation elements that generally appear near the top of a give web page that show you the pages and subpages the appear before the page you’re on. For examples, on a blog, the breadcrumbs might look something like: Home > Category > Year > Month > Post (or they might be a lot simpler that that). The breadcrumbs term comes from the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel33.”



Browser refers to the program a website visitor is using to view the web site. Examples include Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer.




Cached files are those that are saved or copied (downloaded) by a web browser so that the next time that user visits the site, the page loads faster.

Cascading Style Sheets

Also referred to simply as CSS, Cascading Style Sheets are used to define the look and feel of a web site outside of the actual HTML file(s) of the site. In recent years, CSS has replaced tables and other HTML-based methods for formatting and laying out websites. The benefits to using CSS are many, but some of the most important are the simplification of a site’s HTML files (which can actually increase search engine rankings) and the ability to completely change the style of a site by changing just one file, without having to make changes to content.



Client-side refers to scripts that are run in a viewer’s browser, instead of on a web server (as in server-side scripts). Client-side scripts are generally faster to interact with, though they can take longer to load initially.

Content Management System

Also known as a CMS, the Content Management System is a backend tool for managing a site’s content that separates said content from the design and functionality of the site. Using a CMS generally makes it easier to change the design or function of a site independent of the site’s content. It also (usually) makes it easier for content to be added to the site for people who aren’t designers.


In web design terms, a comment is a bit of information contained in a site’s HTML or XHTML files that is ignored by the browser. Comments are used to identify different parts of the file and as reference notes. Good commenting makes it much easier for a designer (whether the original designer or someone else) to make changes to the site, as it keeps it clear which parts of the code perform which functions. There are different comment formats for different programming and markup languages.


See Cascading Style Sheets.

CSS Framework

A CSS framework is a collection of CSS files used as the starting point to make XHTML and CSS web sites quickly and painlessly. They usually contain CSS styles for typography and layout.




Deprecated code is code that is no longer included in the language specifications. Generally this happens because it is replaced with more accessible or efficient alternatives.

Deprecation63 from Wikipedia
Deprecated Tags and Attributes in HTML64 from HTMLQuick.com
Disabling Deprecated HTML Using CSS65 from David’s Kitchen


Stands for Dynamic HyperText Markup Language. DHTML fuses XHTML (or any other markup language), the DOM, JavaScript (or other scripts), and CSS (or other presentation definition languages) to create interactive web content.


In GIF and certain other image formats, there is a limited color palette used for each image. Because of this, not all colors in an image are presented. Dither is used to approximate these colors by combining pixels of different colors side by side.



Stands for Domain Name Service (alternately Domain Name System or Domain Name Server). Basically, it’s the thing that converts IP addresses into domain names. DNS servers are provided with the IP address of your web server when you assign your domain name to those servers. In turn, when someone types your domain name into their web browser, those DNS servers translate the domain name to the IP address and point the browser to the correct web server.


The doctype declaration specifies which version of HTML is used in a document. It has a direct effect on whether your HTML will validate.


Dom, The

Stands for Document Object Model. It’s a language-indpendent, cross-platform convention for representing objects in XML, XHTML, and HTML documents. Rules for interacting with and programming the DOM are specified in the DOM API.


The domain is the name by which a website is identified. The domain is associated with an IP address. Domains can be purchased with any combination of letters, hyphens (-), and numbers (though it can’t start with a hyphen). Depending on the extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.), a domain can be anywhere up to 26 to 63 characters long.


Stands for Document Type Definition. DTD is one of several SGML and XML schema languages. It provides a list of the attributes, comments, elements, entities, and notes in a document along with their relationships to each other.



Short for electronic commerce. It’s the buying and selling of goods online, through websites. Products sold through e-commerce can be physical products that require shipping, or digital products delivered electronically.


Elastic Layout

An elastic layout is one that uses percentages and ems for widths paired with a max-width style to allow the site layout to stretch when font sizes are changed. It’s ability to flex to accommodate the browser width and reader’s font preferences are where it gets its name.



In XML, an element is the central building block of any document. Individual elements can contain text, other elements, or both.


Em is a unit of measurement for sizing fonts and other elements within a web page relative to the item’s parent element. A 1em font is equal to the point size for the font already defined in the parent element (2em would be twice the current size; .5em would be half the current size).

Embedded Style

An embedded style is a CSS style written into the head of an XHTML document. It only effects the elements on that page, instead of site-wide as a separate CSS file does. Style in an embedded style sheet will override styles from the linked CSS file.


Ex is a measurement for font height or size relative to the height of a lowercase “x” in that font family.


Extensible Markup Language

Otherwise known as XML. XML is a markup language used for writing custom markup languages. In other words, XML describes how to write new languages (it’s sometimes referred to as a “meta” language because of this). It also serves as a basic syntax that allows different kinds of computers and applications to share information without having to go through multiple conversion layers.


External Style Sheet

This is a CSS document that is written in a separate, external document. The biggest advantage to using an external style sheet is that it can be linked to by multiple HTML/XHTML files (which means changes made to the style sheet will effect all the pages linked to it without having to change each page individually).



Favicons are tiny (generally 16×16 pixels, though some are 32×32 pixels), customizable icons displayed in the web address bar in most browsers next to the web address. They’re either 8-bit or 24-bit in color depth and are saved in either .ico, .gif or .png file formats.


Fixed Width Layout

A fixed width layout has a set width (generally defined in pixels) set by the designer. The width stays the same regardless of screen resolution, monitor size, or browser window size. It allows for minute adjustments to be made to a design that will stay consistent across browsers. Designers have more control over exactly how a site will appear across platforms with this type of layout.


Fluid Layout

See Liquid Layout

Focal Point

The focal point of a web site is the spot on a web page that they eye is naturally drawn to. This could be an image, a banner, text, Flash content, or just about anything else. You want to make sure that whatever is acting as your focal point is the most important part of your site.



The fold is a term carried over from newspaper design and pagination (where the fold referred to the physical fold in the paper). The fold in a website is the point on the webpage that rests at the bottom of someone’s browser (in other words, to see anything below the fold, they would have to scroll down). There are varying opinions on how important the fold is in web design.

Font Family

Font family is a group designation for defining the typefaces used in CSS documents. The font family tag generally lists multiple fonts to be used, and usually ends with the generic font category (such as “serif” or “sans-serif’).


Font Style

In CSS, the font style refers solely to whether a font is italic or not.

Font Weight

The font weight refers to how thick or thin (bold or light) a font looks.


The front-end is basically the opposite of the back-end. It’s all the components of a website that a visitor to the site can see (pages, images, content, etc.) Specifically, it’s the interface that visitors use to access the site’s content. It’s also sometimes referred to as the User Interface.


Graceful Degradation

Graceful degradation refers to a website’s ability to have elements that may take advantage of the capabilities of newer browsers done in a way that allows users with older browsers to still view the site in a manner that at least allows access to basic content. It also applies to making sure that if one small portion of your site doesn’t work in someone’s browser, it doesn’t break your entire site for them.


Graphical User Interface

Also referred to by its acronym: GUI. A graphical user interface uses an input device (like the mouse) and visual representations of how the user is able to interact with a web application. In other words, it’s all the front-end stuff you see on a web application. It’s purpose is to allow you to interact with a web application without having to enter code.



Also referred to a “hex” numbers, they are a base-16 numbering system used to define colors online. Hex numbers include the numerals 0-9 and letters A-F. Hexadecimal numbers are written in three sets of hex pairs. Because screen colors are RGB (Red, Green, Blue), the first pair defines the red hue, the second pair defines the green hue, and the third pair defines the blue.



Contrary to popular belief, a hit does not represent a single visitor to a website. A hit is actually a request for a single file from your web server. This means one page can actually generate multiple hits, as each page generally has more than one file (an html or other base file, a css file, multiple images, etc.) and each one is requested from the server whenever the page is loaded. Some marketing people like to quote hits to unknowing consumers as the number makes their site sound like it’s getting a whole lot more traffic than it actually is.


The .htaccess file is the default directory-level configuration file on Apache servers. They are also known as “distributed configuration files.” Configuration directives contained in the .htaccess file apply to the directory in which the file is placed as well as all of its subdirectories. Within the .htaccess file things like authorization and authentication, rewriting of URLs, cache control and customized error responses can all be specified.


Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the primary language used to write web pages. HTML is primarily intended as a way to provide content on websites (with CSS handling the layout and stylistic options), though it can also be used to determine how that content is displayed.



Also referred to as an HTML element, an HTML tag is the bit of code that describes how that particular piece of the web page it’s on is formatted. Typical tags specify things like headings, paragraphs, links, and a variety of other items.


Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between a web browser and a web server.



Similar to HTTP, HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol over SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or, alternately, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Like HTTP, it’s a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between browsers and servers, but this time it’s done over a secure, encrypted connection.


A hyperlink is a link from one web page to another, either on the same site or another one. Generally these are text or images, and are highlighted in some way (text is often underlined or put in a different color or font weight). The inclusion of hyperlinks are the “hyper” part of “hypertext.”



Hypertext is any computer-based text that includes hyperlinks. Hypertext can also include presentation devices like tables or images, in addition to plain text and links.



Short for Inline Frame. An iframe is used to display one or more web pages within another normal web page (one that isn’t a frameset page).

Image Map

An image map is used in XHTML to allow different parts of an image to become different clickable elements (and can also allow some portions of the image to have no clickable element).



In CSS, elements that don’t have a pre-defined style will take on the style of their parent element within the document tree.

Inline Style

Elements with CSS written directly around the element it affects, instead of in a separate style sheet or header style.



Stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or sometimes Perl or Python), and is referring to the specifications of a web server (defining the operating system, web server, database, and scripting language, in that order). One of the advantages of LAMP setups is that the software used is all free and open source.


Landing Page

A landing page is the page where a visitor first enters a website. Oftentimes, a special landing page is created to elicit a specific action from the new visitor (usually in connection with an advertising or marketing campaign).

Link Farm

A link farm is any website setup specifically to increase the link popularity of other websites by increasing the number of incoming links to that site. While some link farms are single pages listing unrelated links, others consist of networks of sites that contain multiple links back and forth to one another. Search engines can generally recognize these types of schemes and often remove link farms from their directories and penalize the sites linking to and from them.

Liquid Layout

A liquid layout is one that is based on percentages of the browser window’s size. The layout of the site will change with the width of the browser, even if the visitor changes their browser size while viewing the page. Liquid layouts take full advantage of a person’s browser width, optimizing the amount of content you can fit onscreen at one time.




This refers to the coding applied to a text document to change it into an HTML, XML, or other Markup Language document.

Meta Data

Meta data is the data contained in the header that offers information about the web page that a visitor is currently on. The information contained in the meta data isn’t viewable on the web page (except in the source code). Meta data is contained within meta tags.


Meta Tag

A meta tag is an HTML tag used to include meta data within the header of your web page.



Navigation refers to the system that allows visitors to a website to move around that site. Navigation is most often thought of in terms of menus, but links within pages, breadcrumbs, related links, pagination, and any other links that allow a visitor to move from one page to another are included in navigation.



Nesting refers to putting one HTML element within another element. When this is done, the elements have to be closed in the reverse order from how they were opened.


Non-Breaking Space

A non-breaking space (also referred to as  ) is a white-space character that isn’t condensed by HTML. It’s primary function is to hold open table cells or add spacing between words (or a the beginning of paragraphs if an indent is desired).


Open Source

Open source refers to the source code of a computer program being made available to the general public. Open source software includes both web-based and desktop applications. Open source programs are generally free or very low cost and are developed by teams of people, sometimes comprised mostly of volunteers.



A pageview is a request for an entire web page document from a server by a visitor’s browser. In other words, for each page view your site had, someone (or a search engine spider) looked at that page.


Short for “permanent link.” Generally used only on blogs, a permalink is a link that is the permanent web address of a given blog post. Since most blogs have constantly-changing content, the permalink offers a way for readers to bookmark or link to specific posts even after those posts have moved off the home page or primary category page.



A plug-in is a bit of third party code that extends the capabilities of a website. It’s most often used in conjunction with a CMS or blogging platform. Plug-ins are a way to extend the functionality of a website without having to redo the core coding of the site. Plugins can also refer to bits of third-party software installed within a computer program to increase its functionality.

Progressive Enhancement

Progressive enhancement is a strategy for web design that uses web technologies in a layered fashion that allows everyone to access the basic content and functionality of a web page, using any browser or Internet connection, while also providing those with better bandwidth or more advanced browser software an enhanced version of the page.


Property is a CSS term and is roughly equivalent to an HTML tag. Properties are what define how a style should appear on a given web page.


A pseudo-element is an element used to add a special effect to certain selectors.


Pseudo Class

Like pseudo-elements, pseudo classes are used to add special effects to certain CSS selectors.


Really Simple Syndication

Also referred to as RSS. RSS is a standardized XML format that allows content to be syndicated from one site to another. It’s most commonly used on blogs. RSS also allows visitors to subscribe to a blog or other site and receive updates via a feed reader.



Refers to the physical number of pixels displayed on a screen (such as 1280×1024). Unlike in print, display resolution does not refer to the number of pixels or dots per inch on a computer screen, as this can be changed by changing the resolution of the screen (which, of course, does not change the physical size of the screen). The resolution of an image, however, is often referred to in terms of pixels per inch, though this has very little effect on how the image is displayed on screen.



Generally, a schema is an XML document used in place of a DTD to describe other XML documents.


Generally refers to a portion of code on an HTML page that makes the page more dynamic and interactive. Scripts can be written in a variety of languages, including JavaScript.



In CSS, the selector is the item a style will be applied to.

Semantic Markup

In semantic markup, content is written within XHTML tags that offer context to what the content contains. Basic semantic markup refers to using items like header and paragraph tags, though semantic markup is also being used to provide much more useful context to web pages in an effort to make the web as a whole more semantic.


Server-side refers to scripts run on a web server, as opposed to in a user’s browser. Server-side scripts often take a bit longer to run than a client-side script, as each page must reload when an action is taken.



Stands for Standard Generalized Markup Language. It’s a markup language used for defining the structure of a document. SGML isn’t mentioned very often, but it’s the markup language that serves as the basis for both XML and HTML.


Stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. It’s an XML-based protocol exchanging information across the internet to allow an application on one site to access an application or database on another site.



A specification is a document that offers an explicit definition and requirements for a web service or technology and generally includes how the technology is meant to be used, along with the tags, elements, and any dependencies.



A tag is a set of markup characters that are used around an element to indicate its start and end. Tags can also include HTML or other code to specify how that element should look or behave on the page. See also HTML Tag.



A template is a file used to create a consistent design across a website. Templates are often used in conjunction with a CMS and contain both structural information about how a site should be set up, but also stylistic information about how the site should look.



Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A site’s URL is its address, the item that specifies where on the Internet it can the found.



Usability refers to how easy it is for a visitor to your site to use your site in its intended manner. In other words, are navigation, content, images, and any interactive elements easy to use, functioning the way they were intended, and that your intended target visitor will not need any special training in order to use your site.



Valid web pages are those that return no errors based on the type of HTML/XHTML specified in the doctype declaration at the beginning of the file. In other words, the code used on the page conforms to the specifications for that version of HTML/XHTML. This can be checked through various validation services, most commonly the one from W3C.



Web Page

A web page is a single document, generally written in HTML/XHTML, meant to be viewed in a web browser. In many cases, web pages also include other coding and programming (such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, or ASP). Web sites are generally built from multiple interlinked web pages.

Web Server

A web server is a computer that has software installed and networking capabilities that allow it to host web sites and pages and make them available to internet users located elsewhere. There are a few different setups that can be used for a web server, including the LAMP setup mentioned earlier.


Web Standards

Standards are specifications recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium for standardizing website design. The main purpose of web standards is to make it easier for both designers and those who create web browsers to make sites that will appear consistent across platforms.



Stands for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. Basically, XHTML is HTML 4.0 that has been rewritten to comply with XML rules.



Stands for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a specification for creating other, custom markup languages. It’s an extensible language because it allows for the user to define the mark-up elements.

Further Resources


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  92. 92 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/01/25/35-free-high-quality-e-commerce-templates/
  93. 93 #
  94. 94 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/elastic/
  95. 95 http://jontangerine.com/log/2007/09/the-incredible-em-and-elastic-layouts-with-css
  96. 96 http://www.cssglance.com/category/gallery/layout-technique/elastic-layout/
  97. 97 http://stevenclark.com.au/2008/03/04/elastic-layouts-still-have-issues/
  98. 98 http://www.w3schools.com/XML/xml_elements.asp
  99. 99 http://www.tizag.com/xmlTutorial/xmlelement.php
  100. 100 http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/xml-schema/
  101. 101 http://www.clagnut.com/blog/348/
  102. 102 http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=397663
  103. 103 http://mondaybynoon.com/2006/03/13/effective-style-with-em/
  104. 104 http://www.quackit.com/css/embedded_style_sheets.cfm
  105. 105 http://www.htmlite.com/CSS001b.php
  106. 106 #
  107. 107 http://www.xs4all.nl/~sbpoley/webmatters/emex.html
  108. 108 http://kb.mozillazine.org/Em_units_versus_ex_units
  109. 109 #
  110. 110 http://www.w3schools.com/xml/default.asp
  111. 111 http://www.xml.com/pub/a/98/10/guide0.html
  112. 112 http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-04-1999/jw-04-xml.html
  113. 113 http://www.w3schools.com/CSS/css_howto.asp
  114. 114 http://webdesign.about.com/od/css/a/aa051203a.htm
  115. 115 http://www.tech-evangelist.com/2007/11/03/css-external-style-sheet/
  116. 116 http://mppierce66.home.comcast.net/~mppierce66/web/fi/
  117. 117 http://www.favicon.cc/
  118. 118 http://www.html-kit.com/favicon/
  119. 119 http://www.photoshopsupport.com/tutorials/jennifer/favicon.html
  120. 120 http://www.freecsstemplates.org/preview/beachsunset
  121. 121 http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5314471.html
  122. 122 http://green-beast.com/blog/?p=199
  123. 123 http://www.searchenginefriendlylayouts.com/fixed-width_layouts
  124. 124 #
  125. 125 http://webdesign.about.com/od/webdesignbasics/ss/focal_point_ba.htm
  126. 126 http://www.stylishdesign.com/the-focal-point-is-the-most-important-design-element/
  127. 127 http://threeminds.organic.com/2007/12/the_fold_is_an_unnecessary_des.html
  128. 128 http://www.360innovate.co.uk/blog/2009/05/infatuated-with-above-the-fold-web-design-by-john-ellis/
  129. 129 http://www.graphpaper.com/2008/07-29_the-scrolling-experience-and-the-fold
  130. 130 #
  131. 131 http://www.w3schools.com/CSS/pr_font_font-family.asp
  132. 132 http://webdesign.about.com/od/fonts/a/aa080204.htm
  133. 133 http://www.w3schools.com/css/pr_font_font-style.asp
  134. 134 http://www.hscripts.com/tutorials/css/fontp.php
  135. 135 http://www.w3schools.com/Css/pr_font_weight.asp
  136. 136 https://developer.mozilla.org/en/CSS/font-weight
  137. 137 http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html
  138. 138 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writingainterfacestyleguide/
  139. 139 #
  140. 140 http://webtips.dan.info/graceful.html
  141. 141 http://www.anybrowser.org/campaign/abdesign.html#degradability
  142. 142 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphical_user_interface
  143. 143 http://axp16.iie.org.mx/Monitor/v01n03/ar_ihc2.htm
  144. 144 http://www.sylvantech.com/~talin/projects/ui_design.html
  145. 145 #
  146. 146 http://www.december.com/html/spec/color.html
  147. 147 http://cloford.com/resources/colours/500col.htm
  148. 148 http://www.webmonkey.com/reference/Color_Charts
  149. 149 http://www.opentracker.net/en/articles/hits-visitors-pageviews.jsp
  150. 150 http://www.mediacollege.com/internet/statistics/hits/
  151. 151 http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml
  152. 152 http://www.thejackol.com/htaccess-cheatsheet/
  153. 153 http://www.htaccesstools.com/
  154. 154 #
  155. 155 http://www.w3schools.com/html/DEFAULT.asp
  156. 156 http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/
  157. 157 http://www.htmlgoodies.com/primers/html/
  158. 158 http://webdesign.about.com/od/htmltags/a/bl_index.htm
  159. 159 http://htmldog.com/reference/htmltags/
  160. 160 http://www.devx.com/projectcool/Article/19816
  161. 161 #
  162. 162 http://www.w3.org/Protocols/
  163. 163 http://www.wdvl.com/Internet/Protocols/HTTP/
  164. 164 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Https
  165. 165 http://www.freebase.com/view/en/https
  166. 166 #
  167. 167 http://www.ironspider.ca/format_text/hyperlinks.htm
  168. 168 http://webdesign.about.com/od/dreamweaverhowtos/ht/htdwhyperlink.htm
  169. 169 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext
  170. 170 http://www.cyberartsweb.org/cpace/ht/jhup/history.html#1
  171. 171 http://www.w3schools.com/TAGS/tag_iframe.asp
  172. 172 http://www.dyn-web.com/tutorials/iframes/
  173. 173 http://developer.apple.com/internet/webcontent/iframe.html
  174. 174 #
  175. 175 http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/images/images_famsupp_220.html
  176. 176 http://www.elated.com/articles/creating-image-maps/
  177. 177 http://www.frankmanno.com/ideas/css-imagemap/
  178. 178 http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/css-inheritance-cascade.php
  179. 179 http://monc.se/kitchen/38/cascading-order-and-inheritance-in-css
  180. 180 http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?cid=2795D
  181. 181 http://www.quackit.com/css/inline_style_sheets.cfm
  182. 182 http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/tutorials/css/inline
  183. 183 #
  184. 184 http://lamphowto.com/
  185. 185 http://www.viswiki.com/en/LAMP_(software_bundle)
  186. 186 http://www.copyblogger.com/landing-pages/
  187. 187 http://www.digital-web.com/articles/11_ways_to_improve_landing_pages/
  188. 188 http://www.conversationmarketing.com/2008/10/14-instant-landing-page-upgrades.htm
  189. 189 http://www.netmechanic.com/news/vol5/promo_no7.htm
  190. 190 http://webdesign.about.com/b/2008/03/03/what-is-a-link-farm.htm
  191. 191 http://seoforblogging.blogspot.com/2008/08/link-farm-what-it-is-and-how-you-can.html
  192. 192 #
  193. 193 http://www.maxdesign.com.au/presentation/liquid/
  194. 194 http://www.netmag.co.uk/zine/develop-css/create-a-simple-liquid-layout
  195. 195 http://matthewjamestaylor.com/blog/perfect-3-column.htm
  196. 196 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/negativemargins/
  197. 197 http://www.sitepoint.com/article/html-37-steps-perfect-markup/
  198. 198 http://www.digital-web.com/articles/markup_as_craft/
  199. 199 http://www.mezzoblue.com/downloads/markupguide/
  200. 200 #
  201. 201 http://www.library.uq.edu.au/iad/ctmeta4.html
  202. 202 http://htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/head/meta.html
  203. 203 http://searchenginewatch.com/2167931
  204. 204 http://www.addme.com/meta.htm
  205. 205 http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_meta.asp
  206. 206 #
  207. 207 http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2005/11/28/the-8-types-of-navigation-pages/
  208. 208 http://webdevelopersjournal.com/articles/navigation.html
  209. 209 http://13styles.com/
  210. 210 #
  211. 211 http://webtips.dan.info/nesting.html
  212. 212 http://htmldog.com/guides/cssintermediate/grouping/
  213. 213 http://kb.iu.edu/data/agjn.html
  214. 214 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-breaking_space
  215. 215 http://www.opensource.org/
  216. 216 http://www.designvitality.com/blog/2007/07/the-open-source-web-design-toolbox-100-tools-resources-and-template-sources/
  217. 217 http://sixrevisions.com/tools/30-useful-open-source-apps-for-web-designers/
  218. 218 http://evhead.com/2006/08/pageviews-are-obsolete.asp
  219. 219 http://www.dullest.com/blog/page-view-metrics-bah-humbug/
  220. 220 http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/tyranny_of_the_page_view.php
  221. 221 #
  222. 222 http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/2008/11/what-is-a-permalink/
  223. 223 http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks
  224. 224 http://designreviver.com/freebies/22-firefox-3-plugins-web-designers-cant-live-without/
  225. 225 http://intellectualcramps.blogspot.com/2008/12/designing-plugins-for-reuse.html
  226. 226 http://codex.wordpress.org/Writing_a_Plugin
  227. 227 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/understandingprogressiveenhancement
  228. 228 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/progressiveenhancementwithcss
  229. 229 http://ejohn.org/blog/progressive-css-enhancement/
  230. 230 http://icant.co.uk/articles/pragmatic-progressive-enhancement/
  231. 231 http://htmldog.com/reference/cssproperties/
  232. 232 http://meiert.com/en/indices/css-properties/
  233. 233 http://www.westciv.com/style_master/academy/css_tutorial/properties/index.html
  234. 234 http://www.w3schools.com/css/tryit.asp?filename=trycss_firstletter
  235. 235 http://www.w3schools.com/CSS/CSS_pseudo_elements.asp
  236. 236 http://www.devarticles.com/c/a/Web-Style-Sheets/Learn-CSS-part-7-Pseudo-Elements/
  237. 237 http://snook.ca/archives/html_and_css/understanding_pseudo_elements/
  238. 238 http://www.devarticles.com/c/a/Web-Style-Sheets/Learn-CSS-Pseudo-Classes/
  239. 239 http://htmldog.com/guides/cssintermediate/pseudoclasses/
  240. 240 #
  241. 241 http://www.whatisrss.com/
  242. 242 http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/rss/rss.html
  243. 243 http://rss.softwaregarden.com/aboutrss.html
  244. 244 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display_resolution
  245. 245 http://www.thescreamonline.com/technology/monitor/monitor_res.html
  246. 246 http://www.w3schools.com/Schema/default.asp
  247. 247 http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-08-2005/jw-0808-xml.html
  248. 248 http://www.stylusstudio.com/xml_schema.html
  249. 249 #
  250. 250 http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/feedbackphp.shtml
  251. 251 http://www.tizag.com/htmlT/script.php
  252. 252 http://www.yourhtmlsource.com/javascript/basicjavascript.html
  253. 253 http://css.maxdesign.com.au/selectutorial/
  254. 254 http://www.stevesouders.com/blog/2009/03/10/performance-impact-of-css-selectors/
  255. 255 http://opensource.adobe.com/wiki/display/flexsdk/CSS+Advanced+Selectors
  256. 256 http://www.digital-web.com/articles/writing_semantic_markup/
  257. 257 http://robertnyman.com/2007/10/29/explaining-semantic-mark-up/
  258. 258 http://www.pearsonified.com/2007/04/definitive-guide-to-semantic-markup.php
  259. 259 #
  260. 260 http://www.w3schools.com/web/web_scripting.asp
  261. 261 http://bytes.com/serversidescripting/
  262. 262 http://websiteowner.info/articles/cgi/whichside.asp
  263. 263 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SGML
  264. 264 http://www.isgmlug.org/sgmlhelp/g-index.htm
  265. 265 #
  266. 266 http://www.w3schools.com/soap/default.asp
  267. 267 http://www.scottnichol.com/soap.htm
  268. 268 http://wdvl.internet.com/Authoring/Languages/XML/Soap/
  269. 269 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Web_service_specifications
  270. 270 http://www.w3.org/
  271. 271 #
  272. 272 http://www.web-source.net/html_codes_chart.htm
  273. 273 http://www.davesite.com/webstation/html/taglist.shtml
  274. 274 http://htmlhelp.com/reference/wilbur/list.html
  275. 275 http://english.artegami.com/44-tutorials-for-creating-web-templates/
  276. 276 http://www.thesitewizard.com/gettingstarted/dreamweaver5.shtml
  277. 277 http://www.voidix.com/website.html
  278. 278 #
  279. 279 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Resource_Locator
  280. 280 http://www.w3.org/Addressing/URL/Overview.html
  281. 281 http://www.usabilityfirst.com/websites/index.txl
  282. 282 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/31/10-principles-of-effective-web-design/
  283. 283 http://www.usereffect.com/topic/25-point-website-usability-checklist
  284. 284 http://stud.cmd.hro.nl/0773253/notusable/blog/the-ultimate-webdesign-usability-checklist/
  285. 285 http://validator.w3.org/
  286. 286 http://validator.w3.org/
  287. 287 http://codex.wordpress.org/Validating_a_Website
  288. 288 http://blogingenuity.com/2009/04/07/how-to-validating-your-website-the-easy-way-part-1/
  289. 289 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_page
  290. 290 http://computer.howstuffworks.com/web-page.htm
  291. 291 #
  292. 292 http://www.howstuffworks.com/web-server.htm
  293. 293 http://lifehacker.com/software/feature/how-to-set-up-a-personal-home-web-server-124212.php
  294. 294 http://www.apache.org/
  295. 295 http://www.motive.co.nz/glossary/web-standards.php
  296. 296 http://www.w3.org/
  297. 297 http://robertnyman.com/2007/05/21/what-are-web-standards-a-comprehensive-explanation-of-what-is-comprised-in-the-term/
  298. 298 http://www.maxdesign.com.au/presentation/checklist.htm
  299. 299 #
  300. 300 http://xhtml.com/en/xhtml/reference/
  301. 301 http://www.yourhtmlsource.com/accessibility/xhtmlexplained.html
  302. 302 http://www.quackit.com/xhtml/xhtml_tutorial.html
  303. 303 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML
  304. 304 http://www.w3schools.com/xml/default.asp
  305. 305 http://www.xml.com/
  306. 306 http://webdesign.about.com/od/webdesignhtmlatoz/a/blglossary.htm
  307. 307 http://www.motive.co.nz/glossary/index.php

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

  1. 1

    Wow. What an article!

    Might send this over to the people in marketing who have no idea about the web!

  2. 2

    Great A-Z coverage of web design terms! I am sure this will be very handy for a lot of people that aren’t familiar with some of the jargons :) well done!

  3. 3

    Wow. Amazing compilation of terms! Will take this post in stock.

  4. 4

    Very useful!

  5. 5

    wowww…really amazing…. very helpful… Thank you….

  6. 6

    Useful, I think many clients would benefit from this as sometimes they can get rather confused with all the tech speak out there.


  7. 7

    Congratulations Smashing Magazine, you just won an award for the most useless article of the year 2009.

  8. 8

    Nice.Thanks Smash

  9. 9

    Very nice. Thanks, Cameron!

  10. 10

    Good usefull post, nice resource ^_^

  11. 11

    amazing…!!! Great job. I love SM =)

  12. 12

    Nice article.
    Something about progressive enhancement?

  13. 13

    Great reference post!

  14. 14

    @Marco yeah I’d like to see that in this list :)

  15. 15

    You can also bookmark the following:


    Which will give you both laymans and in depth answers.

  16. 16

    now that’s really useful! thank you

  17. 17

    Great article but I would have appreciated some more advanced terms. I am not a professional web designer but I know all the terms listed!

  18. 18

    Floris Fiedeldij Dop

    May 21, 2009 1:38 am

    Finally! A good resource for these terms, that I can link to all the people that constantly ask “but that just goes over my head” and never bother to read up on it. This is a quick and simple explanation of the term, all gathered in one resource. How can they not bookmark it (unless they have a desire to not learn and stay ignorant).

  19. 19

    Thank you for the web design dictionary!

  20. 20

    Small correction, Ajax is an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (not HTML).

  21. 21

    Everything in one place, great.

  22. 22

    Henrik Kjelsberg

    May 21, 2009 2:19 am

    Nice list.. Well done
    Couple of things that should be mensioned.
    – Ajax´s official name is XHR ( XML Http Request )
    – Url is somewhat deprecated. Uri would be the correct term in most cases.

  23. 23

    nice brushing …

  24. 24

    Violet Bliss Dietz

    May 21, 2009 2:39 am

    So nicely done. I’m bookmarking this for a web design backgrounder that I can forward whenever I’m working with someone who wants to know more.

  25. 25

    great article! very useful.

  26. 26

    huh!! big list :(

  27. 27

    You forgot jQuery!! It’s so awesome it deserves to be in the list.

  28. 28

    Accessibility is not just about disability! It also referes to ensuring websites can be used by people with different technologies – slow connections, small screens, PDAs, mobile phones.

    Quote from W3C: “Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities. For example, a key principle of Web accessibility is designing Web sites and software that are flexible to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations. This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in certain situations, such as people using a slow Internet connection, people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm, and people with changing abilities due to aging. ”


  29. 29

    Great post…helpful too..thanks…

  30. 30

    Wow! Not only a really useful glossary, but a collection of excellent resources as well.

  31. 31

    nice post, thank you!

  32. 32

    Dalibor Vasiljevic

    May 21, 2009 3:34 am


  33. 33

    This is excellent, a great resource – bookmarked!

  34. 34


    Thats one of the most content rich articles I have ever read!! Just amazing :D I’ll sure will start reading Camerons articles in the future too!!

  35. 35

    Holy shit what a good article!! ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyou
    ThankyouThankyouhankyouThankyouhankyouThankyou So much!!!!

  36. 36

    Yorick Peterse

    May 21, 2009 5:35 am

    Finally a decent article, I was getting tired of all the “X amazing bla bla bla” articles.

  37. 37

    man this post kicks ass, nice job guys/gals.

  38. 38

    What a great little resource. This will be an article to return to in the future for reference, and I love how you’ve provided a few links pertaining to each term. Kudos for a great article, Cameron. Consider it bookmarked!

    P.S. – Thanks for using one of my articles at Blog Ingenuity for your section on validation. It was a pleasant surprise to see the pingback this morning, and as long as someone gets some use out of my articles I’m happy.

  39. 39

    This is a valuable bit of work. Thanks for that. I can refer clients to this when they want to “know more”.

  40. 40

    great resource, even for web savy folks. I almost want to take a test over the material or even use it as a benchmark for interviews. thanks.

  41. 41

    I can’t thank you guys enough for all the resources you share!
    This is simply amazing!

  42. 42

    Very useful, thanks!

  43. 43

    Excellent work, very useful. Thank You!

  44. 44

    this – rules – mucho! just like Floris said above, this is perfect for directing people to who don’t (or won’t or can’t) grasp particular web concepts. kudos!

  45. 45

    at last!

  46. 46

    WoW, WoW

  47. 47

    wow list, very detail

  48. 48

    Where’s REST?

  49. 49

    Wow… one of the most comprehensive and truly useful posts I’ve ever seen on any design blog. Well done!

  50. 50

    You’re really smashing my brain out!

  51. 51

    Nice article. Definitely can forward to others who are new to web design/development.

    Good job Smashing!

  52. 52

    Bookmarked! Great post Cameron!

  53. 53

    Thanks so much for this! We’re gonna start referring all our clients to this glossary of terms. Super helpful.

  54. 54

    Very useful post.
    A lot of information for designer, developers on single page.

  55. 55

    nice post, re-tweeted

  56. 56

    Simply SMASHING!!! An instant classic.

  57. 57

    Great post—very useful reference to point marketing and management to

  58. 58

    I’m sure my clients will appreciate this. Thanks for the article!

  59. 59

    Great blog. Wow, I’ve been designing websites for a number of years and yet, I’ve learned some new terms from reading your post. Thank you. This is a great reference, not only for someone just getting started in Web design, but the clear and concise explanations can also be used in helping clients to understand some of the terminology. Using web design industry jargon truly is like learning a new language.

  60. 60

    I like the Motive Web Design Glossary http://www.motive.co.nz/glossary/index.php

    I love the photo from the Meta Data; where can I snag a hq version?

  61. 61

    Fantastic collection of terms, especially for those of us with decidedly non-technical clients. Thank you!

  62. 62

    awesome post

  63. 63

    Sonia Jean-Marie

    May 21, 2009 1:29 pm

    I can’t believe this article, this is the kind of stuff that should be published all the time! This was incredible informative!

  64. 64

    That’s a pretty useful post :-)

    @Henrik Kjelsberg: AJAX and XHR are two different things.

  65. 65

    @Heather Kyle: That’s unfortunate. Not a single one of these concepts should be new even if you’ve only been in the industry a month.

  66. 66

    Surprising not to see CSS Sprites included, a la http://www.smashingmagazine.com/tag/sprites/

  67. 67

    Thats an amazing post.

  68. 68

    This should be the article of the year!!! Excellent post. Thanks SM

  69. 69

    Excellent Post! You can also publish a PDF version of this article as it will be of great help to all the web users of different categories. Such information is hard to find at a single place. Though few topics are missing but that’s OK. Thanks SM for this article and do consider to publish a PDF copy for the people to download.

  70. 70

    Excellent piece. Thank you.

    I’m going to forward this to the people who think they know!

  71. 71

    How can “Minify” be left out ???

  72. 72

    I have my technical round tomorrow for web designer interview, this saved my day. I had to prepare something for my friend, Now I can just link :D

    thanks a ton

  73. 73

    Neat list, thank you

  74. 74

    Smashing stuff!

    Although I already knew most of those terms, it never hurts to refresh the memory once in a while.

    Thanks SM!

    Keeps up the great posts.

  75. 75

    Pardon me, Shawn, I said “terms”, not “concepts”. Anyway, again, great reference.

  76. 76

    great one from Cameron, really inspired from your post. I can’t resist from Bookmarking this post.

  77. 77

    Nice. I love it.

  78. 78

    Awesome post. I wonder what the licenses on this content is, I’d love to port it over to spanish and distribute it freely to some people at work.

  79. 79

    Wow, reading this really reminds me of the vast amount of industry-specific information I have forced into my head… when you lay it end to end…

  80. 80

    Excellent……….great info.

  81. 81

    Wow, another great resource!

  82. 82

    Very nice. Just dugg it. I think we need a Web Design Wikipedia so we can keep this information together. So much changes so fast as soon as this was posted there was probably a new term. Just look at the twitter trends


  83. 83

    Caroline Schnapp

    May 23, 2009 6:57 am

    You should ‘id’ the h4 headings in this post so that we can provide a link that goes directly to 1 definition. Example change this HTML:


    To this:

    <h4 id="schema">Schema</h4>

  84. 84

    wowsers. this is properly ace. thanks.

  85. 85

    Sanchit Thakur (ILLUMINZ)

    May 23, 2009 12:30 pm

    Exactly what Web Design & web development is all about.

  86. 86

    Louise McGregor

    May 24, 2009 2:03 am

    Thanks for this, it’s a great resource. I’m going to add it to our web experts resources – even if they know the terms already it’s good to have definitions and background websites to help in their discussions with others.

  87. 87

    Unlikely glossary gloss over generic terms from Smash.
    Oh well, next design terms for designers please. Thnx.

  88. 88

    Wow, this was a really useful article. :’3

  89. 89

    The description of EM is rubbish, particularly compared to the description of EX

    Automagical has no place in this list – it is used more widely outside web-design circles than it is inside. Everything else was pretty basic stuff.

  90. 90

    bookmarked… shared …recommended!

  91. 91

    That was excellent! I have it bookmarked for regular use.

  92. 92

    great post thank you!

  93. 93

    This is AWESOME! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  94. 94

    Really nice post, but why no JavaScript and Java? I’ve sent this to the less technical people within the company and I know they will ask…

  95. 95

    Web Design Bristol

    June 25, 2009 3:55 am

    This is a great resource, thanks alot. This goes straight into my bookmarks!

  96. 96

    Very Helpful, Thanks for the effort.


  97. 97

    OMG, shocked.
    Smashingmagazine rules !!!

  98. 98

    Wonderful and Very Helpful

  99. 99

    You missed Z-Index ;-)

  100. 100

    This is absolutely awesome, I love it, bookmarked,
    This blog rocks big time

    123 power system

  101. 101

    Hi this is domain..Automagical has no place in this list – it is used more widely outside web-design circles than it is inside. Everything else was pretty basic stuff…www.hostplannet.com

  102. 102

    I read your article.The things you have written sound very sincere and nice topics i am looking forward to its continuation. Many of us don’t know about this event.

    Your post is helpful.

    Computers and web design services

  103. 103

    Thanks for very nice article. Take a look at php tutorial.

  104. 104

    Thanks for very nice article. Take a look at creating a website

  105. 105

    This is a great compilation. Very useful.

    Learn PHP

  106. 106

    Great stuff – thanks for putting this together

  107. 107

    Brilliant article.
    Very good for new students in web and related design

  108. 108

    This site is awesome. I continually find new stuff & unique listed here. Appreciate that information.

  109. 109

    Wow Awesome list, its has some great resources in it. I’ve used some of these tools myself.

    Another Favicon tool you should add is


  110. 110


    For sharing this webdesign Glossary. I am also working on a tutorial project which teaches every newbie and web designers to create there own website right from scratch.

    I recommend every one who wants to learn web designing to visit.


  111. 111

    This webdesign page would be really helpful to someone who doesnt know anything about webpage design.

  112. 112

    This is an useful article. You may refer this also web development tutorials


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