A software framework for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It includes a large library and supports several programming languages, allowing language interoperability (each language can use code written in other languages).



In the context of the Web, building a site that everyone is able to access, regardless of their level of physical or mental ability.

Active Server Pages (ASP)

Microsoft’s first server-side script-engine for dynamically-generated web pages.

adaptive layout

A layout system that enables the visual elements in a web page or application to adapt to changes in the size of the application window or capabilities of the device on which the application is running.


A mobile operating system that is based upon a modified version of the Linux kernel and currently owned and maintained by Google.

Application Service Provider (ASP)

A business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network. Software offered using an ASP model is also sometimes called “On-demand software” or “software as a service” (SaaS).


A catch-all term referring to all materials needed to successfully complete a project. In terms of web design and development, “assets” typically refer to the text content, graphics, photographs, videos, audio files, and databases.

Assistive Technology (AT)

An umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process of enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to or different methods of interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.


black hat

A reference to vintage cowboy films where the “good guy” always wore a white hat and the “bad guy” always wore a black one, this term first appeared in reference to computer “hackers” that would create computer viruses or break into networks or computers with malicious intent. In terms of the web, “black hat” has also been used to describe people who attempt to get higher search rankings by nefarious means (keyword stuffing, link farms, etc.).


A software program that allows a user to view images and read hypertext documents (i.e. web pages). Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Opera, and Safari are all browsers.



Also known as “closed captioning,” a means of displaying text over a video in an effort to provide additional or interpretive information to viewers who wish to access it. On the web, captioning is used to enhance and increase usability and accessibility, especially to users with disabilities who are using a screen reader.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

Declarations that describe how a document should be presented on the Web. CSS can be written for different media, can be part of an HTML document, or can be a separate file that is applied to multiple HTML documents.


A web browser developed by Google that is based on the WebKit layout engine and application framework.


A commercial rapid application development platform invented by Jeremy and JJ Allaire in 1995, originally designed to make it easier to connect simple HTML pages to a database. As of 2010, versions of ColdFusion (now owned by Adobe Systems) include advanced features for enterprise integration and development of rich Internet applications (RIA).

compiled programs

A computer program (or set of programs) that transforms source code written in a programming language (the source language) into another computer language (the target language, often having a binary form known as object code). Compiled code tends to run faster than non-compiled code.

Content Distribution Network (CDN)

A system of computers containing copies of data, placed at various points in a network so as to maximize bandwidth for access to the data from clients throughout the network. A client accesses a copy of the data that resides on a server that is closer to them, as opposed to all clients accessing the data from the same central server.

Content Management System (CMS)

Software used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. On the web, a content management system is designed to simplify the publication of web content to web sites and mobile devices—in particular, allowing content creators to submit content without requiring technical knowledge of HTML or the uploading of files.


Also known as a web cookie, browser cookie, or HTTP cookie, a piece of text stored by a user’s web browser. A cookie can be used for authentication, storing site preferences, shopping cart contents, the identifier for a server-based session, or anything else that can be stored as text data. Cookies can be encrypted or unencrypted.


The use of words to promote a person, business, opinion, or idea. It is generally limited to promotional situations, regardless of the medium (print or web). On the web, it may also be referred to as content authoring or writing. Content writing on websites may include among its objectives the achievement of higher rankings in search engines. Known as “organic” search engine optimization (SEO), this practice involves the strategic placement and repetition of keywords and keyword phrases on web pages, writing in a manner that human readers would consider normal.


A modularized version of CSS that consists of several separate recommendations. Rather than attempting to shove dozens of updates into a single monolithic specification, CSS3 allows an easier and more efficient update to individual pieces of the specification. Modules enable CSS to be updated in a more timely and precise fashion, thus allowing for a more flexible and timely evolution of the specification as a whole.



A WYSIWYG web development application originally developed by Macromedia and now owned and maintained by Adobe Systems. This desktop software program allows users to preview websites in locally installed web browsers, provides file transfer and synchronization features, the ability to find and replace lines of text or code by search terms and regular expressions across an entire site, and boasts a templating feature that allows single-source update of shared code and layout across entire sites without server-side includes or scripting. The behaviors panel also enables use of basic JavaScript without any coding knowledge.

Dynamic HTML (DHTML)

A late ’90s buzzword for a collection of technologies (HTMLCSS, JavaScript, and the Document Object Model) used together to create interactive and animated web sites. This buzzword has been replaced several times over with terms such as “DOM scripting,” “Ajax,” and, most recently “HTML5.


Expression Studio

A suite of tools created by Microsoft for designing and building web and Windows client applications and rich digital media.



A free and open source web browser created by Mozilla that uses the Gecko layout engine to display web pages. Mozilla Firefox implements the most current web standards in addition to several features which are intended to anticipate likely additions to the standards.


An Adobe multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. It is frequently used for advertisements, games, and as a component of rich Internet applications (RIAs). Flash manipulates vector and raster graphics to animate text, drawings, and still images. It supports bidirectional streaming of audio and video, can capture input via mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera, and, if properly coded, can be made accessible to some assistive technologies.



The identification of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a cell phone or an Internet-connected computer terminal. Geolocation may refer to the practice of assessing the location, or to the actual assessed location.



See HyperText Markup Language.


The next major revision of the HTML standard that is currently under development. Like its immediate predecessors, HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.1, HTML5 is a standard for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web.

human-readable URL

A web page location (typically seen in the address bar of a browser) that can be easily read and understood by humans.

Hyperlinks are words or phrases within an HTML document that provide a connection to another HTML document. Hyperlinks create the “web” in World Wide Web.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

A simple mark-up language used to create hypertext documents that can be read on any computer. HTML is the structural basis of every web page.



See internationalization.

Information Architecture (IA)

The information design, organization of content, and navigation of a website or intranet. A complete IA document includes a site map, wireframes for each template, and any necessary notations regarding navigation, flow of information, and features included on the site.

Interaction Design (ID)

Defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems. Interaction designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services that they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances and beyond.


A means of adapting computer software to different languages, regional differences, and technical requirements of a target market. Sometimes abbreviated as i18n as there are 18 letters between the “i” and the “n” in this rather lengthy word.

Internet Explorer (IE)

A series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems starting in 1995. The latest stable release is Internet Explorer 9.


Apple’s mobile operating system, used to power devices such as the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.



A cross-platform, object oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. It can be used to create whole applications; however, its primary contribution to the web has been in the form of Java applets: self-contained, executable programs that can be used in a web page.

Java Server Faces (JSF)

A Java-based Web application framework intended to simplify development integration of web-based user interfaces.

Java Server Pages (JSP)

A Java technology that helps software developers serve dynamically generated web pages based on HTML, XML, or other document types.


A client-side scripting language originally developed by Netscape and later standardized by ECMA. Programs authored in JavaScript adds interactivity and conditional behavior to web pages. JavaScript, despite its name, has little in common with the programming language Java.



A term that is more relevant or of higher importance in a given page of content on the web. A popular form of keywords on the web are tags which are directly visible and can be assigned by non-experts also.



Refers to giving or receiving permission as well as to the document recording that permission. On the web, licenses often govern the the use of photography and software.

See hyperlink.

local storage

A catch-all term referring to any of several mechanisms for storing data on a client machine (typically within a web browser). Data placed in local storage is isolated for use only by the domain that stored it and persists after the browser is closed. Examples of local storage include cookies, userData, local databases, and the localStorage object.


The process of translating a product into different languages or adapting a language for a specific country or region (a “locale”). Sometimes abbreviated as “L10n” as there are 10 letters between “l” and “n” in this relatively long word (the capital “L” is used to further differentiate it from “i18n,” which stands for internationalization, a related term).


Mobile Safari

See Safari Touch.

Mobile Web

The Mobile Web refers to the use of Internet-connected applications, or browser-based access to the Internet from a mobile device—such as a smartphone or tablet PC—connected to a wireless network.


Media and content that uses a combination of different forms. Multimedia includes some combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactive content.


native app

An application designed to run in the computer environment (machine language and OS) being referenced.


open source

Describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s source materials and the licensed usage thereof.


A web browser and Internet suite developed by Opera Software. Opera is the most popular mobile browser, and the most popular desktop browser in some countries.

Operating System (OS)

Software consisting of programs and data that runs on computers, manages computer hardware resources, and provides common services for efficient execution of various application software. Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OS X are examples of common operating systems.


payment gateway

An e-commerce application service provider service that authorizes payments for e-businesses and online retailers. Payment gateways protect credit card details by encrypting sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, to ensure that information is passed securely between the customer and the merchant and also between merchant and the payment processor.


A graphics editing program developed and published by Adobe Systems Incorporated. It is commonly used by designers for print and the web.


A widely used, general-purpose scripting language that was originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages.

pixel density

A measurement of the resolution of devices in various contexts; typically computer displays, scanners, and digital camera image sensors. It describes the number of pixels contained within a set space. As display technologies have evolved, manufacturers have been able to increase the pixel density of devices to make the picture sharper. For instance, most desktop monitors have a pixel density of 72 pixels per inch (PPI); the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, by contrast, has a pixel density of 326ppi.

progressive enhancement

Progressive enhancement is a strategy for web design that emphasizes accessibility, semantic HTML markup, and external stylesheet and scripting technologies. Progressive enhancement 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.


On the web, typically a low-fidelity proof-of-concept application or interface to be used for testing the usability or viability of that interface or application.



The number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed. A higher number of pixels displayed equals a higher resolution.


A mechanism (typically used in the context of photography) by which a copyrighted work is licensed for one-time use without restrictions.


A dynamic, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. A primary aim of the language is to maintain an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write. Ruby is the underlying language used in the Rails and Sinatra web frameworks.

Ruby on Rails

An open-source framework that brings the Ruby programming language to the web.



A graphical web browser developed by Apple and included as part of the Mac OS X operating system. A version of Safari is also available for Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Safari Touch

A mobile web browser for iOS-based devices including the iPhone and iPad.

screen reader

A software program that reads the contents of the screen aloud to a user. Screen readers are a form of assistive technilogy used primarily by individuals who are blind.

screen size

On a computer monitor, the viewable image size is the actual amount of screen space that is available to display a picture, without obstruction from the case or other aspects of the unit’s design. Screen size is not necessarily an indication of a display device’s overall resolution as that calculation is made by multiplying the screen size by the pixel density of the device.

search engine

A web application designed to search for information across publicly available pages on the World Wide Web.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The process of improving the visibility of a website to search engines.

site map

Provides a global, hierarchical view of a website’s pages or application’s “screens” for organizational purposes. Most site maps do not show every page-to-page or screen-to-screen connection; that function is usually served by detailed user flows.


A mobile phone that has advanced computing capabilities and supports tasks such as email and web browsing.

source code

Any collection of statements or declarations written in a computer programming language.


A set of rules defining the presentation of a structured document.



HTML tables define data in rows and cells. In the early days of the web, HTML tables were widely used for website layouts, but with the advent of CSS, that practice became unnecessary and is now frowned upon. HTML tables should be used solely for tabular data.


A portable personal computer equipped with a touchscreen as a primary input device.



A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that specifies where an identified resource is available and the mechanism for retrieving it. The best-known example of the use of a URL is for the address of a web page.

usability testing

A technique used to evaluate a product by testing it on users.

usage statistics

Detailed, but anonymous aggregate data collected during a user’s browsing session on a website.

user experience

The interaction a user has with an interface. From a planning perspective, the user experience is typically defined in wireframes, but every aspect of the web design and development process—from wireframing to copywriting to design to programming—affects the user experience.

user testing

See usability testing.


web app

An application that is accessed over the Internet. Common web applications include e-mail and productivity software. Web apps may be accessed from any browser and some have even been streamlines for access from smartphones and tablets. Web apps are often juxtaposed with native apps, but each has inherent strengths and weaknesses.

web browser

See browser.

web page

A document or information resource that is suitable for the Web and can be accessed through a web browser and displayed on a monitor or mobile device.

web standards

Technologies for creating and interpreting web-based content. Web standards are developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other groups and standards bodies and are carefully designed to deliver the greatest benefits to the greatest number of web users while ensuring the long-term viability of any document published on the web.


A collection of related web pages, images, videos or digital assets that are addressed relative to a common URL.


A basic visual guide used in interface design to suggest the structure of a website and relationships between its pages. A webpage wireframe is a similar illustration of the layout of fundamental elements in the interface. Typically, wireframes are completed before any artwork is developed.


An acronym for “What you see is what you get.” The term is used in computing to describe a system in which content displayed during editing appears very similar to the final output.