Graphic Design & Web Development

Designer Lingo

Lost in translation? Here's the glossary.

A

Above the fold
In web design, a term that describes the area of a web page that is initially viewable without scrolling. It is prime real estate for your web page. Read More: How important is the fold in web design?
Back to top

B

Bitmap
An image file format that uses a finite amount of tiny colored squares (pixels) that blend together to form an image. Photographs are examples of bitmap images. Bitmap files are indicated by .bmp, jpg, .gif, .png, or .tif file extensions. A bitmap image can only be enlarged so much before it starts to become pixelated—meaning you can start to see each individual pixel—which makes the image distorted and fuzzy.  (See also: vector)
Bleed
An extension to the dimensions of a printed piece added in the design phase, which allows for full coverage of ink to the edge of the paper once printed and trimmed. The bleed amount on each side is usually an extension of .125" beyond the intended finished size of the piece.
Browser
The software application that you use to "connect" to the internet—i.e. view and interact with the World Wide Web. The most popular browser in use today for Windows systems is Internet Explorer. On a Macintosh, the default browser is Safari. Other modern browsers such as Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome are available for free download. Read more: Is one browser better than another?
Back to top

C

CMYK
A color model used for print design. The letters represent Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black), the four inks used for printing. Every other process color is a combination of these four. CMYK is considered a subtractive color model because the ink "subtracts" brightness from the white of the paper. (See also: RGB)
Conversion Optimization
The systematic process of tweaking a webpage to become more effective at changing visitors into customers. Read more: A scientific method for improving your bottom line.
CSS
Short for "Cascading Style Sheets", CSS is a web language used to create the presentation (formatting, or styling) of web pages. It is used in conjunction with a markup language, like HTML.
Back to top

D

Die Cutting
A process in the finishing stage of a print piece, wherein printers cut or punch out areas to create unique shapes, edges, and cutouts. Read more: How to use die cutting for design and function.
DPI
Stands for "dots per inch" and refers to the number of dots of ink that are printed in a one inch space. Each square pixel that makes up a bitmap image is depicted by multiple dots of ink during printing. The more dots per inch, the clearer the image can be. Images should be printed at a minimum 150 dpi (or approximately 300 ppi image resolution) for accurate color and maximum clarity. (See also PPI)
Back to top

F

Favicon
A mashup of “favorites icon”, this term describes the an icon that is displayed next to a website title in a browser or used to represent it in the bookmarks list. Read more: Is a favicon necessary for my website?
Flash
Adobe Flash is a software program that is mostly used for creating animation and adding interactivity to web pages. (The term however, is often used to describe not the software, but rather the animation that is created by it—e.g. "I'd like some Flash on the homepage"). Flash has been phased out of use on websites, due to it's proprietary nature and lack of mobile support.
Back to top

H

Hexadecimal
A way to express colors for digital use. Hexadecimal code uses characters 0-9 and A-F to express a color in a 6 digit format, preceded by the pound sign. For example, the color red is #ff0000. Read more: How do I convert my colors to hexadecimal code?
Back to top

I

Italic
Generally understood to mean "letters slanted to the right", in actuality a true italic is a form of a typeface designed by the type designer. Each character is meticulously and intentionally created as an italic form, normally with calligraphic or cursive flourishes, and even changing the letterform altogether. Read more: What's the difference between italic and oblique?
Back to top

K

Kerning
The process of adjusting the space between adjacent letters. This is done to correct awkward spaces that can appear when differently shaped letters are placed next to each other. The goal is to have all a word’s letters appear as though they are evenly spaced, which improves the flow and legibility of that word. Read more: Why is kerning important?
Back to top

L

Landing page
A single web page that is designed to serve a single specific objective. While the objective itself may vary (sign up for a free trial of a service, register for a webinar, download a free e-book), the overarching purpose is typically to acquire leads for your sales/conversion funnel. Read more: When do I use a landing page instead of a website?
Back to top

P

PPI
Stands for "pixels per inch" and refers to the number of pixels that are in a one inch space of the image. (The ppi is also what refers to the resolution of an image, though this is often confused with dpi.) The more pixels per inch, the larger the image can be. For print design, images should be a minimum of 300 ppi at the final size it will be used. For images on the web, 72 ppi is sufficient. (See also DPI)
Back to top

R

RGB
A color model used for web design (and other electronic systems, such as televisions). The letters represent Red, Green, and Blue, the three wavelengths of light used to create every other color. RGB is considered an additive color model because the wavelengths of these three primaries add together to form white. (See also: CMYK)
Robots
Software programs written to roam the web that automatically retrieve information from a website. Robots are commonly used for indexing sites for search engines. They can also be used for other purposes, such as link validation or looking for updated blog content via RSS feeds. (See also: Spider) Read more: Will robots take over the world?
Back to top

S

Sans-serif
Describes a font that does not have "serifs", or the small horizontal protrusions that ornament letters at the ends of their strokes. "Sans" is the French word for "without".
SEO
Search Engine Optimization, the process for improving the ranking factors of your website for higher visibility in search engine results. SEO can involve organic (free) methods (such as optimizing the meta tags on your website), as well as more costly investments (paying for advertisements and link building).
Serif
Describes a font that has small horizontal protrusions that ornament letters at the ends of their strokes.
Spider
A term for a software program that "crawls" your website in order to determine links, keywords, and relevance for ranking in search engines. Spiders are used by search engines like Google in order to index and process your webpages. (See also: Robot)
Back to top

T

Template
A web template is a shell that surrounds the different pages of your website. This allows each page to be consistent in look, while allowing the content of each page to be unique. A change can be made to a template that will be reflected across all pages of your website, without having to edit each page individually.
Typeface
A font family, including all variants such as roman, italic, bold, condensed, etc. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with "font", but this is incorrect usage. A font is the actual variant, or a member, of a typeface (e.g. Adobe Garamond is the typeface; Adobe Garamond Semibold Italic is a font within the typeface).
Back to top

V

Vector
An image file format that uses mathematical equations to create images. Vector files may have file extensions of .ai, .esp, or .svg. Vector images, unlike bitmaps, can be scaled indefinitely without distortion. (See also: bitmap)
Back to top

W

WYSIWYG
Pronounced "Whiz-E-Wig", this is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get." It describes the user-interface of a text editor that allows a user to easily see and manipulate the output without having to know any of the underlying code.
Back to top

 

Keep reading: