All industries have their own jargon, those annoying words, phrases and anacronyms that industry insiders dream up as industry specific terms. The web development industry is full of them not to mention the wider IT industry.
Of course these are often necessary and can prove extremely useful but when they are more commonly used by those outside an industry they are often misused and confusing. So let’s look at some very basic web development terms which you might well need to know when talking to your web developer.
A web page is a single page (document) created by a web developer that sits on a web server with a link that can be searched on the Internet and served up to the user.
A website is a collection of web pages hosted together linked via a navigation (menu) created by a web developer that sits on a web server with a link that can be searched on the Internet and served up to the user.
The term webpage is often incorrectly used to describe a website.
Web graphics are pictures/images used on a website. These can include photos, logos, headings and sometimes even the navigation names. Not all words on a site are necessarily text. They can be images. Text is often created as an image because it looks more professional, however, Google can’t read text which is created as an image so there is a sound argument that most text on a website should be true text and not an image.
Domain name – URL
The domain name is the name of the website on the Internet with an extension such as .com or .com.au etc. A domain name can be used for other related Internet functions such as running email addresses. A domain name becomes a URL when it is added to a computer called a Domain Name Server and it is then sent (pointed) to a web server to serve up a website or email accounts.
This stands for Internet Protocol. An IP address relates to a webserver and is usually a series of numbers such as 206.332.415.899. The company which hosts a website, meaning your website is sitting on their web server, will ask to have the part of the URL which is used to display a website (the A record) to be pointed to their web server using their IP address so they can serve the website up to the Internet. It is really attaching the URL to your website.
For a website to be available to web users it needs to be hosted on a web server. A web server is simply a computer but it has web server software loaded onto it. Websites are also loaded to this computer, the web server, so when a user browses the internet via a web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer etc.) the website address is located as a link. The user clicks on the link and a call is sent to the web server where the website is hosted via the IP address and the web servers serves the website up to the user.
If a user knows the website URL for the site they want to visit then it can be easiest to type it straight into the address bar in the browser but a search engine is handy if the user only knows the name of the business they are looking for. They are even more important if the user is searching for a product or a service but doesn’t know what providers offer these in their area.
By far the most commonly used search engine is Google.
A link is a web address of a document on the Internet. That document could be a website, a page within a website, a pdf document, an image etc. You may see the link as a web address such as https://www.spinoffdigital.com.au/what-we-do or it could be some text such as What We Do with a web address in behind it. It could also be a photo or some other image with a web address behind it. When you click on the text, photo or image the link behind it is activated and the document opens.
The navigation of a website is the menu you use to choose which pages you want to look at on a website. The structure is made up of the main navigation and drop-down menu items. When you mouse over the main navigation any drop-downs coded under it will display.
Refresh – Caching
Your computer, tablet or phone has a cache. This is a storage bank of websites you have visited recently. The device stores copies of recently visited sites so when you come back to them they will load more quickly. It is quicker because your device does not have to send a message to the web server where the site is hosted but simply retrieves it from your device’s cache. All devices will have a setting to auto clear a cache but if you visit a site regularly there is a chance you will be seeing the same saved version even when an updated version of the website is available.
You can refresh a website to make sure you are seeing the latest version if you think there is an issue. Most web browsers will have a refresh button but using your keyboard is often more effective. To do this open the site and simultaneously press Ctrl/F5. You may need to do this two or three times for best effect.
To clear the cache on tablets and phones you may need to go to settings.
There is also a chance that a server (in your office, at you ISP etc.) could also be caching preventing you seeing the latest version of a site. You would need your IT support to clear your office server.
You can always check the site using another browser if you think a website is caching beyond your device. Most of us have a default browser we use regularly but you can download another browser. If you haven’t opened a website in this browser recently it should not be caching so you know you are seeing the latest version.