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Glossary of Web Design Terms

What does it all mean?

HTML, CSS, ASP.Net, JQuery, PHP, JavaScript, Flash...You hear terms like this in internet geek-speak, but what does it all mean? When you are dealing with web design, or any type of programming for that matter, your developer has a choice between several different coding languages. Each language has it's strong points, and what you see on any single web site is often a combination of coding languages. Here is a quick primer on some terms you may hear when working with computers.

Server Platform: This refers to the type of computer server that will be used to push your site to the internet. When you purchase a web hosting solution from a company like, you will have to choose a server platform. Before you make this decision, make sure you discuss with your web designer which platforms he can use for development. You wouldn't want to purchase a PHP solution if your developer only works in ASP.Net or Cold Fusion.

HTML: HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and is the defacto language of the internet. This markup language uses a simple tag structure to tell a web browser how to display a web page to the user.

CSS: CSS in an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is used by web designers to define the look of a website by assigning style attributes (color, width, fonts, etc.) to its HTML tag structure. Using style sheets also allows a designer to easily unify the look of a website as it creates a template for page elements like paragraphs, headline text, buttons, and more.

ASP.Net: ASP.Net (.aspx) is Microsoft's web programming language. It is a robust development platform which allows your developer to do dynamic things with your web site like connect to a database, send an email, add a blog, or do complex math calculations.

PHP: PHP is a free general use scripting language that allows you to create dynamic websites, much like ASP.Net. Since no license is required to use PHP, it has become widely used throughout the internet development community.

Cold Fusion: Cold Fusion (.cfm) is Adobe Systems' web scripting language. While not as popular as ASP.Net or PHP, ColdFusion still maintains a strong presence as a valid server technology, and is often the choice of developers who work within design/marketing firms.

JavaScript: This scripting language is primarily used to provide enhanced user interfaces like rotating banners, and cool effects for buttons and banners.

JQuery: JQuery is an advanced JavaScript library that makes it easier for web developers to create some really awesome dynamic effects on a web site. JQuery is becoming widely accepted as a replacement for simple Flash functionality.

Flash: This is Adobe Systems' interactive development platform. It is most often used to create interactive graphical web applications, animations, and user interfaces.