Have you ever talked to your website development and web design staff and found yourself nodding in agreement even though you understood only about 50% of what they were saying?
We've all been there before. And even when you feel you've caught up, you realize very quickly that you haven't. Constant learning is the key.
Your website project survival kit needs to be constantly updated. The terms to know are always changing. But don't worry- you don't have to learn how to perform web tasks or deploy concepts- you only have to know enough to be dangerous, ask the right questions and call out items that might not make sense.
Being uninformed about tech terms when speaking to internal team members who have your best interest in mind is one thing. Not understanding what an outside agency is telling you is entirely another and is far riskier.
So, here are some terms to put into your starter website project survival kit from our friends at the web design dictionary, along with some tips from us to put them into context.
Above the Fold
"This is the part of the web page that is visible on-screen before the user scrolls down. The term was originally used with reference to newspapers, where the newspaper would be folded and placed on a news stand. The visible part of the paper (above the fold) is what sells the paper. In web design, the part of the site that is above the fold has the same function. There must be enough content of interest above the fold to make the user want to dig deeper."
Tip: More and more people are browsing and buying using a variety of mobile devices, rather than relying only on desktops. As screen sizes differ, responsive design- or designing so websites function properly and appear correctly across various devices- is critical. In short, "above the fold" means different things for different devices and your web designer and developer need to build your website with this in mind.
A website's backend is made up of the "nuts and bolts" of the website, including code and server processes that make the website function. Think of the backend as the foundation and construction materials that comprise an office building. Conversely, the front end is what the office exterior looks, which interior finishes were selected and the decorations and design choices that a visitor experiences inside.
Content Management System
Most commonly known as a CMS, this is the browser-like interface by which non-programmers and non-techies can revise and edit your new website. Most CMSs are very user friendly and function in a manner similar to programs non-technical people use every day.
Tip: Not every CMS is equal. Make sure to discuss the CMS with your web developer/designer to understand its functionality and capabilities. And do your own research- speak to other business owners or marketing directors, investigate online and make sure that the CMS you are buying will work for your team and its goals.
Bonus Tip: The agency building your website should provide CMS training, or, at a minimum, provide you with a detailed CMS user manual. It is standard that training and/or manual delivery should be part of the estimated cost of the project, not an add-on fee.
"Linking to directly to pages within a site, other than the homepage. In the majority of cases deep linking to someone else's domain is acceptable, but there are sites that do not allow deep linking, preferring that all traffic go via the homepage. If unsure, ask permission before deep linking."
Tip: Backlinking, or the process of getting another website to link to yours, is a challenging but very valuable way to improve your search results on Google. The more reputable the website that links to you, the greater SEO value it has.
"A method for testing the effectiveness of a web page. An eye tracking device monitors the movement of the pupil to determine where on the page the subject looks first. It tracks the movement of the eye as the subject scans the page. This information is then used by the web designer to improve the page layout."
Tip: For most of us, utilizing an eye tracking device is not realistic. What's important, however, is having a basic understanding that web page designs should be built to capitalize on the way our eyes move across a website page. You don't need to be an expert- you just need to know enough to ask the agency you're interviewing about their strategic approach. Understanding visitor behavior plays a key role in determining where to place important information and CTAs (calls-to-action) on a page.
Bonus Tip: Once your website is built you can actually see where people click on certain pages by using a program called HotJar. This will enable you to test the design and make improvements to it over time.
Understanding your web developers, programmers and tech folks, or those at an agency you're looking to hire, is not an easy thing. This is not their fault. It's not your fault. The tech world moves so quickly.
And that means techies and non-techies need to keep learning and finding new and better ways to work together. We all have to find a way to meet in the middle to get things done the right way.
By taking the initiative to constantly stay in-the-know, you can learn enough to reduce project risk and increase the likelihood you'll receive the new website you paid for and deserve.
If you're seeking new website, reach out to us. We have strong expertise in website development, design and deployment. We'd love to learn more about your project.