Jargon Buster Part 2 – What the Heck is my Web Developer on About?
Now you know your SEO from your SERPs as covered in Jargon Buster Part 1, it’s time to look at a few more web development terms which may have you flummoxed.
We’ll start off nice and easy with a term you’ll no doubt be familiar with.
It’s easy to think of a website as free-for-all ‘clickfest’, where you, the user, only clicks on items you’re interested in, but I’ve got news for you. They’re not meant to be like that.
Well-designed websites will guide the user through their journey, giving them an easy path from whatever page they land on. The user journey should not only guide the user to where they want to go, but to where you want them to go.
So, you could think of a website as a digital book that naturally needs a start and finish point. Depending on the site, of course. If a user lands on your homepage and you’re selling a product, you eventually want them to purchase, so the journey has purpose. The same applies if the ultimate goal is for the user to sign up to your mailing list; you want to get them to that point with ease and enjoyment.
On the flipside, poorly designed websites are hard to navigate. They confuse the user, taking them around in circles and not where they want to go, or where you want them to go.
If your goal is to keep the user on your site, you’ll want to guide them through their journey by peppering each page with CTAs (example here), that lead the user to another page of interest.
As the name suggests, navigation is the process of navigating from one web page to another. Like navigation on a car journey, good website navigation is pretty much essential for an effective user journey. It helps visitors to your site flow from one page to the next with no stress.
Decent navigation helps the user quickly and easily access the info they want, and helps you lead them where you want them to go to keep them interested and ultimately convert them into a customer. Poor navigation will result in the user getting fed up and abandoning your site.
Think Hansel and Gretel – a breadcrumb or breadcrumb trail is a type of navigation that shows the user’s location, and the journey they took to get there. The user can follow the trail to get back to where they started.
Breadcrumbs are useful for navigation through a site that has a lot of content structured in a hierarchical way. They usually appear at the top of a page.
So, if you’re shopping for wine glasses on a department store site, your breadcrumb trail might be Store > Homewares > Kitchen > Glassware. You can click of any of these ‘crumbs’ to return to that section.
Link text / Anchor text
Link or ‘anchor’ text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. It’s what you click on to follow the link – simple as that. It might not seem super significant, but good use of anchor text can improve your SEO.
A hyperlink is a link a user can click on to take them to another page. This is a hyperlink.
HTML – Hypertext Markup Language
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the coding language used to create web pages. Basically, it’s strings of code that determine the content and structure of your website.
A backlink a link from one website to another. Backlinks can improve SEO by signalling to search engines that your content is valuable enough to be linked to by other sites.
Like HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a coding language used for building websites. While HTML is used to create the content of the page, CSS is used for the design – the look and feel. This is important to keeping all your stuff on-brand.
Coding is the process of writing in a language – like HTML or CSS – to get your website to do and say what you want it to. The coding language tells your browser how to display your content. Good coding keeps your site looking sharp on all devices.
Meta data & meta tags
Metadata is data about data. Still with me? Good. For example, the metadata of your favourite song might include the artist’s name, the year it was released, and the album it comes from.
In HTML, meta tags provide metadata about your webpage. The metadata isn’t displayed on the page itself, but it can be read by search engines – making it important for SEO.
Alt tag / alt text / alt attribute
Alt tags/text/attributes specifies alternative text for an area if an image can’t be displayed. It tells the visitor to your site what the image is supposed to depict if they can’t view it for whatever reason. This could be due to the page not loading properly due to a slow connection, an error in the coding, or because they’re using a screen reader.
Alt tags are picked up by search engines, so using them for product images is good for – you guessed it – SEO. Also its a requirement for accessible web design which is going to be a big thing pretty soon.
A plugin is a piece of software you can add to your website to help it display a particular type of content. One example is the Mailchimp plugin for mailing list signups. Other types of plugins include social media feeds – showing your most recent tweets, for example – and PDF readers.
Plugins can help you display a whole host of additional content to help improve the look and feel of your site and make your content pop.
If you’re still unsure of your backend from your front-end, check out Jargon Buster Part 1 for more easy-to-understand explanations.