From accessibility to xhtml (not quite A to Z), here is a list of definitions to help you navigate the world of web development.
accessibility: making web content and services available and usable for people of all abilities and disabilities. Section 508 lists federal standards for accessibility.
aggregation, aggregated: when content from pages on a website is excerpted on a higher level page, leading the reader to the full article. Blogs often do this: the main blog page contains a short summary of many posts, each of which links to the full version of that post.
analytics: a tool for measuring the visitor traffic and effectiveness of a website.
authentication: the action of verifying the identity of a person or process, most commonly done through the use of a login identification and passwords, or through SSL certificates such as Verisign.
cascading style sheets (CSS): a way to define the appearance of a website that is independent of the content. For instance, CSS defines what fonts and colors should be used for headlines, paragraphs, and bulleted lists. CSS allows the same content to be displayed in different styles for different devices such as on a monitor, a smartphone, and in print, vastly improving the effectiveness of our content on a wide range of devices.
content management system (CMS): software for publishing and editing web pages by using templates for consistency in design and layout. A CMS employs databases to dynamically generate the HTML and is usually managed via a web browser. Examples: managing an online publication such as a magazine or newsletter, managing a blog or personal website, managing a photo gallery, or managing a mailing list. One of the primary benefits to using such a system is that it does not require the operator to learn a complex programming language in order to perform updates to their website. A CMS can also help ensure that the look and feel of your site remain constant throughout.
database: a collection of pieces of information that are set up in relation to each other so that they can be systematically found by a computer.
digital certificates (secure site certificates / SSL): the digital equivalent of a positive identification to prove that a website, or a visitor to that site, is the entity or person they claim to be. Issued by various authorities (Verisign, GeoTrust, and so on).
domain names and DNS Servers: domain names provide memorable stand-ins for the numeric IP addresses used by computers to identify one another on a network. Some common examples of domain names are www.google.com and www.triangleparkcreative.com. In order for a user to be able to type www.triangleparkcreative.com into the address bar of their web browser and be taken to the Triangle Park Creative website, the domain name must first be translated into a numeric IP address by a Domain Name System server (DNS Server). The same holds true for other domain name-based services such as email (email@example.com) and FTP servers.
feedback, user feedback: graphical response that indicates an action has been taken by the user.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol): a protocol that allows for the transfer of files from one computer to another. In web development, it is used as the primary means for transferring files from the local machine where they are created to the server where they are made available to the public. FTP is also a verb used to describe the act of transferring files from one computer to another.
hypertext markup language (HTML): HTML is the primary language of websites. A better standard is XHTML (extensible HTML). Both identify the function of the various parts of content, such as a paragraph, a major headline, a minor headline, a numbered list, and so on. They provide structure to the content.
image formats (GIF/JPEG/PNG): these stand, respectively, for Graphic Interchange Format, Joint Photographic Experts Group, and Portable Network Graphics, the three most common image formats in use on the web today. Each format has its benefits and pitfalls, making it important to choose the right format for the job. Both GIF and PNG are lossless compression formats, meaning that file size may be reduced without degrading visual quality. Both are a great choice for text headlines, navigation items, and line art. Because of their lossless compression, however, they are less than ideal for compressing photographs, which contain significantly more information. JPEG is a “lossy” format, specially designed to compress photographic images. It averages the information contained within an image and discards everything that is not necessary for reproduction, drastically reducing overall file size. Because of its compression method, however, JPEGs are not very well suited for line art and text images.
interface: visual design of a website, including layout, graphics, typefaces, and interactive elements.
LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP): an acronym referring to a set of free/open-source software programs commonly used in conjunction with one another to develop and maintain dynamic websites and servers. This particular combination has become increasingly popular because of its low cost and the ubiquity of its components.
meta data: basic information, such as a brief summary and keywords, about the content of a web page. Usually, this is invisible to users.
mobile website: a site that has been optimized for reading and navigating via a smartphone. Generally simpler in navigation and smaller in layout than a desktop website.
MySQL: (My Structured Query Language): a multi-user relational database management system, similar to MS Access, or Oracle. However, unlike Access or Oracle, MySQL is free for use under the GNU General Public License. While not as robust as some of its more expensive siblings, MySQL is an ideal platform for developing databases for use on the web because of its ease of use and small resource requirements. Initially many people where concerned about its scalability, and questioned whether or not it could keep up with the demands of a high-volume website. Today, some of the highest traffic sites in the world rely on MySQL to manage their information (Slashdot, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Cox Communications).
open source code: software that is available via a free software license so users can use and modify its code as needed, with the assumption that they will share improvements with others. Open source content management systems, such as Drupal and Joomla, have user communities around the world working to improve them. Compare to proprietary software.
optimization of graphics: making graphic files as lightweight as possible for online viewing. A balance is struck between image quality and download time.
PHP: (Hypertext Preprocessor): an open-source programming language that, although it continues to expand into other realms, has been developed primarily for use in development of server-side applications and dynamic web content. PHP serves as the middle-man between stored information and its presentation in your browser as a web page.
proprietary software: software that is not in the public domain; it is instead sold by a company to a user. Contrast with open source software.
RSS (Real Simple Syndication): technology that allows a website to publish a feed of content or links. Users can subscribe to RSS feeds to receive automated and timely updates from a website.
search engine optimization (SEO): attempting to improve the ranking of a website in search results.
server: a computer where websites are hosted so that they can be accessed by other computers.
server-side: scripting languages that run on a server and give it instructions for generating web pages. Examples include PHP (open source), ASP (Microsoft/proprietary), and Cold Fusion (Macromedia/proprietary).
SSI (server side includes): a portion of a web page that can be stored on a server. It can be used for items that appear on multiple pages, such as navigation. SSIs make it easy to change common content throughout the site with a single instruction, thereby increasing site efficiency.
template: a pre-designed page layout used to make new pages with a similar design, pattern, or style.
threaded discussion: a list in which users can reply to previously posted content in sequence.
usability: allowing users to efficiently achieve their tasks through effective design, architecture, and workflow planning.
wiki: a system for managing content that makes it possible for documents to be written collectively (co-authoring) using a web browser.
WYSIWYG editor (what you see is what you get): a program used to create HTML that enables the user to see what a web page will look like as it is assembled. Typically, a WYSIWYG toolbar resembles the Microsoft Word editing toolbar.
xHTML (Extensible Hyper Text Markup Language): maintained and developed by the WC3, xHTML is the mark-up language used to tell web browsers and other Internet-ready devices what kind of content is contained within a web page. xHTML is designed to be 100 percent accessible and both backward and forward compatible, meaning your content will be understood by the largest number of existing devices and any developed in the future.