“Live Long and Prosper”
As you move into the world of the web you will need to learn some new vocabulary. In the web world there are a range of technologies, acronyms and disciplines that can confuse the newbie (there’s one already – newbie – personage new to the technology). Here are ten to help you converse with the nerds in your life.
Lets ease you in here but I have been surprised over the years by the number of people wishing to learn web technologies that didn’t know what a browser is. A browser is the software used to view web pages. These include Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Apple’s Safari.
All of these browsers are free downloads, or come preinstalled.
Here you are benefitting from the fact that the web was ‘Born Free’.
Uniform Resource Locator – The posh name for a web address that you enter in the browser’s address bar. Ask Joe Bloggs what the URL of Facebook is and they’ll have no idea. Ask them the web address and no problem. The URL of facebook is www.facebook.com. Don’t go there now you’ll waste another 2 hours of your live.
4. Domain Name
The Domain Name is the textual representation of an IP address. Huh? You know lots of domains already, examples been facebook.com, bbc.co.uk, mustbebuilt.co.uk etc. Behind this name lies an IP address, a number that identifies the web server where the files for that web site are hosted. They are lots of online resources that convert a domain to an IP address. We use domain names because www.bbc.co.uk is more memorable than the IP address 188.8.131.52.
A domain name makes up part of a URL – not bad two techie terms in one sentence.
Tip: One famous IP address is 127.0.0.1. This is known as ‘localhost’. If you install a locally running web server it will have an IP address/domain name of 127.0.0.1/localhost.
Hypertext Markup Language – the core language of the web. Web pages are built with HTML. HTML is an open standard maintained by an organisation called W3C – the World Wide Web Consortium. You can’t be serious about web technologies without knowing some HTML. Why not start with the mustbebuilt tried and tested 20/20 HTML approach. Twenty HTML tags to get you started. You’ll also want to learn some CSS to make your pages look pretty.
Cheat! I’ll sneak CSS in here with HTML. CSS stands for Cascading Stylesheets. CSS works along side HTML to make pages presentable. CSS is the ‘designy’ side of web technologies. It is where you choose your colours, fonts and layout style for your web pages.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol – the way HTML files are sent to your browser. You see this everyday in the URL’s you visit for example http://www.bbc.co.uk, http://www.facebook.com. When you enter an URL like this you are essentially telling the browser to get information from that domain using a method called Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Remember web pages are build using Hypertext Markup Language HTML.
Any web site you visit is held on a web server somewhere. That web server will have an IP address to identify it and in most cases a domain name to make it more user friendly. If you want to have a web site you’ll need a web host. Large organisations like Universities tend to host their own web sites on their own web servers. The vast majority of web sites, are however, hosted by hosting companies. You pay them an annually or monthy fee which is in effect a way of renting some space on a web server, where you can upload the pages that make up your web site. How do you upload? Well you need to use something called FTP coming up next.
File Transfer Protocol – whereas HTTP is the way you view pages, FTP is the way you publish them. There are lots of FTP applications available like FileZilla and SmartFTP that you can install. These allow you to move files to your web host, to in effect publish them. When you buy hosting, your hosting company will provide you with an FTP host (the name of server) and a login/password combination. Enter these in your FTP application of choice to get access to your web server.
9. Screen Resolution
Ask yourself these questions. Do you know your screen resolution? Do you know what screen resolution means? As a potential web professional you need to understand that people will visit your web site with a whole range of different technologies. The range of browsers mentioned above is one variable. Another is screen resolution. Screen resolution is the number of pixels available to the user on their screen and is measured in terms of width x height. With destop machines these can range from 800 x 600 for smaller screens through to large monitors of say 1680 x 1024. There will also be visitors with values above and below these examples. As a web designer you need to make a design decision as to what screen resolutions you wish to focus on. The aim is generally to avoid horizontal scroll. That is you design a page that will fit the screen without forcing the user to scroll horizontally. For an example of the decision making process see the mustbebuilt section on picking a layout with Dreamweaver. This is in reference to Dreamweaver but is applicable whatever web tools you use to write your HTML.
Search Engine Optimization – the art of raising the profile of your web site with search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing. A good web designer will use SEO techniques instinctively. For example, make proper use of HTML elements like <title> and <h1>. There are ‘black hat SEO’ techniques that are considered underhand ways of trying to raise you ranking and ‘white hat SEO’ where you use legitimate techniques. Beware of ‘SEO experts’ promising you top ranking in Google.
As you would imagine there are plenty more and in later posts I’ll post another ten and then another ten. However this is a good start.