Website Design Talk: 3 Terms To Know

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) –The programming language used to create website documents and text. The universal basic language of websites.

Why is this important?

Most website text is in HTML. HTML text will behave differently on different computers and different browsers, such as Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox — so your website will look different! For example, let’s say you designed your website text in Arial with a size of 11 point. But on your co-worker’s computer it is displayed in Times Roman 18 point. Because the typeface is different and is larger, the line breaks change and the column is deeper. This has happened because HTML styles are only suggestions, and can be over-ruled by the user’s computer.

A HTML web page layout (the arrangement of elements on a web page) can vary for the same reasons — Internet Explorer might display an HTML layout in a different way than Firefox — so your layout gets jumbled. The solution is to work with programmers who test the website on as many browsers as possible.

For an example of how computer settings can change a website’s look, see below.

NYT--different HTML type

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE (IA) — how a website is organized. Usually a diagram that shows web pages and their content, how they link together, and particular functions and features of the web pages. See example below:

Why is this important?

Websites are a content-driven medium. Once a visitor gets to your site, the primary function of the website is to give the visitor the content they are interested in. If they have trouble finding the content they want, they leave — and visitors get frustrated in only a few seconds. Information architecture is a way of thinking about and organizing your content — from the visitor’s point of view. After the information architecture is established, the web designer can conceptualize the navigation tools: the menus and submenus that visitors will use to move around the site.

OPTIMIZATION — modifying a website to improve its ranking by search engines, such as Google. When Google lists results of a user’s search, an optimized website will be listed higher in the results, which may drive more visitors to the website. Optimization usually involves reviewing text, page titles and HTML labels.

Why is this important?

If your organization relies on search engines to generate web traffic, optimization can be a good investment. Fundamentally, optimization is simply good writing — it makes your content clearer and stronger, so that both search engines and visitors benefit. Be cautious about optimizing services that claim to “game” search engines — sooner or later they catch on, and your rankings will decline.

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FACT OF THE MONTH

The hundred billionth crayon made by Crayola was Periwinkle Blue.