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The Techie Glossary

5 min read

Ever see the terms CSS or SSL and immediately tune out? Well, this one’s for you. No need to feel overwhelmed, we’re getting back to basics with this glossary of key tech terms, specially curated for all those who get lost in code. 

Knowing this terminology is vital for both communicating your visions and understanding how we bring your web dreams to life.

  1. CMS
    This stands for Content Management System. CMSs are platforms that make it easier to edit and update the content (usually text and media) of a website. Without CMSs, you couldn’t make even the simplest edit without having some basic understanding of HTML. Now with a CMS, you can jump in and do everything yourself with just a few clicks. It’s important to remember that all CMSs have to be coded first, but that’s what we’re here for.

    At Black Magic, our first choice for a CMS is Craft CMS. We love that it’s powerful, reliable, and scalable, and if you’re intrigued, click here to read more about why it’s the best for developers and users alike, or try it out for yourself.

    Cookies are small pieces of data created by a web server while you browse a website that are then placed on your computer or mobile device by your browser. They enable web servers to store information on your device, like the items in your Amazon shopping cart, or to track your browsing activity, like when you click a button, log in, or when you visit certain pages.

  3. CSS
    CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It is a language used as its name states, for styling websites. You’ve heard accessories can make or break an outfit. Well, imagine page layouts, colors, and font styles to be your website’s deal breaking (or making) hats, earrings, and necklaces. These significant details are all determined with CSS.

    In simpler terms, a database is a place to store a website’s data. SQL, for example, is a specific language used to do things with the data on a database. This includes functions like selecting records created between given dates or updating a record that matches given criteria.

    Deployment is one of the final steps of the web development process. Put simply, it’s the launch phase of your website, and when a site is deployed, it’s live and ready for the whole world to view.

    This is the address or name that points to a specific server on the internet. When you type in your browser's URL bar, that address is pointing to a specific server that returns the unique files that allow you to enjoy our beautiful website.

    In short, frameworks and libraries are reusable pieces of pre-developed code that allow us to create something (or many things) in much less time. There are many frameworks and libraries out there but the most common ones allow us to create complex navigation structures, content presentation animations,  and accessible UI elements to name just a few.

    The front-end of a website is what users view and interact with, and the back-end is all the magic that makes that happen.

    Think of a website like a car. What the dashboard looks like and what each button does, in broad terms, is the front end. The user knows that when they turn this knob, the temperature of the car is adjusted. When they push this button, the music turns on. The back- end is how exactly those things are implemented. For the temperature, turning that knob enacts a physical or electrical change that makes the fan spin faster. All of these background or “back-end” actions ultimately lead to a desired change in temperature for you, the user.

  9. HTML
    HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the most basic coding language, and it provides the blueprint for all web development.

    Just like you speak English or German, we speak HTML. This markup language allows developers to create structure (defining things like headlines, paragraphs, lists, sections, etc.) and embed images, video, and other media for web pages or web applications. Altogether, it grants structural semantic meaning to the page. What do we mean by semantic meaning? For example, on a website you might have several headers. Even if they have the same styling (font size, color, etc.), they might have different “levels” of importance. The header at the top of the page might be more important than the one at the bottom. This hierarchy is achieved with HTML tags, and it’s really important for SEO purposes.

    JavaScript is a programming language that allows you to bring dynamism, interactivity, and functionality to a web page. Every time a web page does more than just sit there and display static information for you to look at, like displaying an interactive map, or flashy animated graphics, you can bet that JavaScript is probably somehow involved.

  11. PHP
    PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It’s a programming language used to make websites more dynamic. Comparatively, HTML provides the base language and creates a much more static site. Imagine you'd like to search for a blog post on a website. You type in the post's name and voila, you get your search results. Behind the scenes, PHP generated that dynamic page content (the search results). It’s all executed by the server and runs before the page is read by the browser.

    Redirects are technical rules used to forward visitors or search engines from a specific URL to another one.

  13. SEO
    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of thoughtfully improving your website's technical structure, metadata, and content in order to increase its ranking on a search engine, like Google, thus increasing its chance to be viewed.

    For example, if you were opening an ice cream shop in Houston, you would add keywords like “Houston” and “ice cream” into your website’s descriptions. This will make it easier for anyone searching “Houston ice cream” to find your website. Therefore the higher up your website is listed on a search, the more likely it will be viewed. It’s vital for improving the quantity and quality of traffic to your website.

  14. SERVER
    A server is the place where all the files (code, images, styles) of your website or application live.

    Recall a time you were trying to buy a limited edition drop of some new sneakers. There’s probably countless others eagerly waiting with their credit cards in hand, refreshing their page every 30 seconds. You’ve finally gotten in the site and added the shoes to your cart, but just as the check out page was loading, it suddenly dies and claims that “the server crashed." The website can no longer load or be displayed because the queue is too large, and this is all dependent on the server. Many people mistakenly believe that the website is the issue, but it’s actually a problem with the server since it’s what actually holds all of the website information.

    SSL certificates are what enable websites to move from HTTP to HTTPS, which makes them more secure and trustworthy. In technical terms, they are data files hosted in your website's server to make traffic encryption possible, keep visitor data secure, verify ownership of the site, and prevent attackers from creating fake versions of the site.

    Think of your website as your house and by installing alarms (or SSL), you’re adding an extra layer of security to protect from hackers. This is important for SEO. The more secure your website, the higher it will rank on Google. So the more secure your house, the better.

We hope you enjoy this curated glossary of basic yet very important tech terms. Next time your curiosity leads you to right click and “View Page Source” on a website, use us as your Rosetta Stone for interpreting this gigantic, complex language of code.

Black Magic Team Jorge Sosa

By Jorge Sosa

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