What do you mean when you say ___? A Glossary of Terms

Steve Zehngut - December 15, 2015

“What do you mean when you say ___?” Speaking with developers and development agencies can sound like a different language. When I start working on a new project with a new partner, my first order of business is to establish a mutually understood vocabulary so we can communicate as effectively as possible. Some partners come to us with less of a technical background than others, and that’s more than okay – we are happy to help, and we don’t judge.

This article is a list of some terms we use and what they mean in plain language you can use, even if you don’t know your HTML from your MySQL.

What did you say?

Front-end development: Someone skilled in this works closely with the code that powers the part of each website that you can see in a web browser. This includes how a site looks, the loading animations for pages, sections, or images, and more.

Back-end development: These developers are server wizards who create and maintain complex systems that handle data, make calculations involving that data, and delivering that information to the front-end for display on a website or mobile app. Anything a site needs to do for you that you can’t see is in this type of developer’s wheelhouse.

WordPress: This is a Content Management System (CMS) that has become our go-to for our web and mobile development. It is an open-source, well-maintained and secure platform that is easy for our clients to use and for our developers to build upon.

Salesforce: This software platform is a sales and marketing tracking tool widely adopted by enterprise-level businesses across the country. Our websites and apps can use Salesforce as their CMS of choice, or we can integrate Salesforce into WordPress.

iOS: This is the operating system used by all Apple mobile devices – iPhone, iPad, and any other iDevice they may dream up. Each version of iOS is a little different, so care must be taken to ensure code will work not only on the newest devices with the newest version, but also the older versions many people still use.

HTML: This is a markup language that is the backbone of the entire internet. Everything you see in your web browser is made up of this type of code. It is responsible for the look of each site you view. A front-end developer must know HTML inside and out.

CSS: This code tells HTML how it should look and behave when you load it into your browser. CSS 3 is the most recent version of the code, which includes animations and other things that improve a user’s experience on your site.

Sass: A programmer’s spin on CSS, this language allows a front-end developer to use principles and code structures based on programming languages like PHP and JavaScript (see below) to make their CSS easier and faster to create and maintain.

JavaScript: This programming language goes several steps beyond CSS to manipulate what you see in your web browser – animations, special CSS declarations, and more. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript make up the three foundational coding languages of web development.

PHP: This is a server-side scripting language designed to create dynamic, interactive websites, and is one of the languages used to build WordPress.

MySQL: Used to access and manipulate data stored in databases, MySQL is a relational database management system that stores the information that is dynamically displayed on a website – that is to say, the same PHP template can be used for multiple pages because PHP and MySQL work together to show only the relevant data to the user. WordPress uses MySQL databases to function.