Here, we attempt to define, in non-technical terms, some of the terminology and three-letter-acronyms commonly used in the online environment. As always, if there are any questions or comments then do not hesitate to contact us.
A website is a place on the web at a specific URL which contains a set of web pages on a related topic. URL (yourcompany.com)
A Uniform Resource Locator is a website’s unique address on the web also called your domain name.
The Internet is the name given to the international network of networks of computers that anyone with the right equipment can access. It is a catch-all term, and is not limited to the web: it includes all services that are available to anyone with a computer, a modem and a connection to the Net.
The Web (or the World Wide Web) is that part of the net which comprises text and images on pages, and is accessed via a browser. Websites are many and varied and since the technology is so new they differ widely in scope, content, complexity and value to the user. They are also not simply limited to displaying text, pictures and links: they can contain multimedia elements and can also be linked to powerful databases so that they serve as an interface: examples of such are the search engines.
A browser is a computer program that allows you to view webpages. The two main examples are Netscape Navigator (“Navigator”) and Microsoft Internet Explorer (“Explorer”). These programs display webpages when told to look at the correct address.
An ISP is an Internet Service Provider. To access the Net from your office, you must have an account (or agreement) with an ISP in a similar manner to a magazine subscription. Your ISP may or may not be your web hosting company.
If you create a website then it must be hosted somewhere: essentially you must rent part of someone’s disk space on a computer that has a permanent highspeed connection to the Net. This hosting service should always include a mail server ( so you can have an e-mail address like email@example.com, for example), daily back ups, site statistics, uptime guarantee and CGI – the ability to add interactivity to your website.
Site statistics track users to your website. Hits and page views are all tracked through site statistics. User information such as the browser they are using, how they found your site (the referrer), what pages they visited and how long they stayed can be incredibly valuable statistical information for ongoing development of a website.
FTP stands for “file transfer protocol” and is the method by which entire computer files are moved around the Net. A browser only looks at a file on the Net, whereas an FTP program actually moves the file from the distant computer to your local one or vice versa.
HTML stands for “hyper text mark up language” and is the format in which all documents on the web are created. Most people do not actually create their documents directly in html format; they usually use an html editor such as Adobe GoLive, Macromedia Dreamweaver, or Microsoft FrontPage, which takes care of most of the mundane, repetitive tasks involved in web page creation. This created HTML then needs to be “stripped” or “compressed” to remove redundant coding and optimize the load time of your site.
GIF (pronounced with a hard “g”) stands for “graphics interchange format” and is one of the two image file formats generally used for images on web sites are saved in (the other being JPEG).
JPEG (pronounced “jay-peg”) is the other file format that images used on websites are saved in. It’s name stands for “joint photographic experts group”. PNG called a “ping” is another web based image file, that will become the future standard of the web in three to five years.
Flash a trade name for .swf files. This is a vector based movie format that allows for special effects to be displayed on the web. Entire websites can be created in Flash.
A search engine is a place on the web where you go to find other websites. Some are indexes and some are directories, but all need you to supply them with details of your site. Thus it is utterly imperative that when you create your site, you design your site with a high ranking in a search engine as a prerequisite. Spider Search Engine create indexes of websites by going out to websites and reviewing all the pages at that URL. Directories are indexes requested by the website owner or someone working on their behalf.
A relational database management system is a how database driven content is accessed, modified and delivered on the web. A shopping cart is an example of a RDMS as it tracks your user information, what you have purchase, the price of the items, the running total and then your credit card and shipping information.
Three-Letter-Acronyms are used by technology people to show they know what they are talking about. They are generally designed to mystify non-technical people. Time saving in discussion, but silly in general use.