Web Design Terms And Definitions O-Z
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London
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Online Profiling

Used primarily by ad networks as a basis for targeted marketing, it's a method of combining cookies, Web site traffic analysis, and personal information to create a profile of a customer's browsing and buying habits. An online profile includes how much time customers spend in certain areas of a Web site and which ads they click on.

Open Source

Open source is any program whose source code is made available for use or modification by users, developers, or hackers. Historically, the makers of proprietary software have generally not made source code available. Open source software is usually developed as a public collaboration and made freely available. For example, in an effort to stay viable in its browser competition with Microsoft, Netscape made its browser source code (Mozilla) freely available, encouraging users to improve it.


The org in .org means organization (pronounced: dot-org) One of several top-level domains primarily assigned to the URLs of nonprofit organizations in the U.S.


To hire an independent contractor or consultant, from outside of the company, to perform a particular task or project, instead of using internal personnel. Many web design companies outsource their work to countries like India.



Information moves around the Internet in `packets'; chunks of data each with their own destination address. Think of packets as sealed envelopes containing data, with addresses written on them. They all go through the system, and usually end up at the correct destination.

Packet Switching

Packet Switching is essentially a method of data transmission where small blocks of data are transmitted rapidly over a channel (such as a phone line) that is dedicated to the connection only for the duration of the packet's transmission. Packet switching is one of the fundamental concepts responsible for computer networking and the Internet. It was developed in the 1960’s by Paul Baran, and was designed to help the military build a communications network capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.


Account A POP3 account is a standard e-mail inbox, a place on the server used for storing incoming e-mail messages. E-mail accounts usually come as “POP3” accounts. A specific amount of space is often allotted to a POP3 account, and going over can cause incoming mail to “bounce”, or return to sender.



A question or request to find a particular file, Web site, record, or set of records in a search engine or database.


A waiting area for e-mail messages, files, print jobs, or anything else that is being sent from one device to another. With e-mail



Random-Access Memory (pronounced: ram) Hardware inside your computer that retains memory on a short-term basis and stores information while you work. RAM is one of the things that makes your computer run faster. It comes in 32-bit, 64-bit, 128-bit, 256-bit, and higher, and you can add additional "blocks" of RAM, depending on your computer.


Relational Database Management System A type of database management system (DBMS) that stores data in the form of related tables. RDBMSs are powerful in that they impose few assumptions about how data is related or how it will be extracted from relational databases.



A server is a computer that processes requests for HTML and other documents that are components of a webpage. All website hosting takes place on a server of some type. A server can be as small as a personal computer or span thousands of Gigabytes in the case of large telecommunication companies.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting refers to the practice of splitting up server resources among many customers in order to defer the cost to many different customers. This means that the shared host accounts are more affordable. Additionally, shared servers are often run by the ISP itself, meaning that they handle security issues and technical operations as they arise in a “managed” environment.

Secure Socket Layer

(SSL) protocol A secure transmission protocol whereby data transmitted between server and client is encoded using an encryption key (usually 128-bit) in such a way that it virtually cannot be "cracked" and read by any party which may intercept the information in between the server and client. SSL protocol is used on virtually all websites which feature e-commerce purchasing and transmission of payment data, as well as most websites which require the exchange of sensitive information in between the client and the server, such as medical information, personal data, even name and address data. To use SSL, you must have a dedicated IP address for the server, and a Secure SSL Certificate such as those sold at realwebhost.net at the lowest price on the internet for the highest level of security and the best compatibility with the widest range of browsers of any certificate on the market. A Secure Socket Layer only provides for secure transmission of data and does not perform credit card validation, verification, or merchant processing, although those tasks are all performed from clients entering information onto secure pages.

SSI (Server Side Includes)

Server Side Includes (SSI) is a practice whereby a set of tags are embedded in the HTML code of a web page and which are populated (replaced by something else) when the web page is actually viewed by the user. The content which the server provides to these tags is determined by many factors, and can be programmed by the web designer to provide specific and unique information to different types of web visitors (persons viewing the web page). This is often done in situations where the server makes a determination as to which user is logged in an provides specific information to that user relative to that user's account with with web host. SSI is run by a Perl script on UNIX/Linux servers.

Shell Account

A UNIX or Linux server can offer varying degrees of access to use of the computer by the creation of a shell account allowing the user to log in and browse, change, modify, update, and delete files from a given set of files and folders to which the user has permissions established. Access to shell accounts by users is typically done by Telnet (not secure) or by more secure means such as SSH, the popular software for which is called SecureCRT. Shell accounts are considered very dangerous from a security point of view when the server is a shared web server (has multiple client users) because crackers can often use unscrupulous means to gain full (root) access to servers from within shell accounts without full access. This allows for mischief to occur. UNIX/Linux servers are generally viewed as far more safe .


Storage on a server is simply the memory space available to hold files.



TCP/IP stands for Transmissions Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. TCP is the host to host connection used by computers to govern networking and IP passes the individual packets of information between computers. TCP/IP is responsible for the interconnecting of all the smaller networks that make up the entire Internet.


The command and program used to login from one Internet site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt of another host. Note that Telnet is not considered secure as it is not encrypted. For secure communications and exchange of passwords, users should always use the SSH protocol rather than Telnet. SSH1 and SSH2 protocols provide the needed security. The software SecureCRT is capable of all of these methods of communication and is the most popular software in use.


Approximately a trillion bytes of data, or 1000 million gigabytes or 1,000,000 MB, or 8 million data bits. One thousand of these will constitute one gigabyte. One million of these will constitute one terabyte. Transfer Total amount of data which is sent from from a web site to client computers accessing the sit. Transfer measurements include all all HTML code from all displayed web pages, as well as all images, sounds, video, and downloaded data. See also Data Transfer for more information.


Traffic on a website refers to the amount of people who visit the site on a given moment. Traffic also describes all of the interaction that visitors take part in, such as surfing or using e-mail while on that site. Companies pay particular attention to the amount of traffic on their sites because it gives them an indicator of how successful their website is.

Transfer Rate

Transfer rate and bandwidth is essentially the same thing, referring to the amount of data that can flow through a communications channel over a given time.


A dedicated line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line can move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. Although once considered to be a very substantial bandwidth, T-1 is now eclipsed by even the download speed of many cable modems which operate at up to 3,500,000 bits-per-second. To get an idea of what this speed can do, note that this high transmission rate is still not fast enough for full-screen, high-resolution, full-motion, uncompressed television video, for which is needed at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second.


A high bandwidth, dedicated line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second, or approximately 30 times the speed of a T-1 line.



Uploading refers to transferring files from a client, such as your home computer, to a host, such as your web hosting company. Uploading is usually accomplished with the help of an FTP client. Think of it as the opposite of downloading.


URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is an Internet address (for example, http//:www.domainname.com/example).In this instance, the URL consists of an access protocol (HTTP), the domain name (www.domainname.com) and optionally the path of a file or resource residing on the server. Traditionally, the domain portion (.com) of the URL denotes what sector of society the website belongs to. (.com) denotes a commercial site.


Virtual Hosting

Multiple websites share the system resources of a single server. In other words, it provides a customer with a limited amount of server space to create their web site. Bandwidth and storage space is distributed among many clients, who all "share" the same physical server. Hosting companies provide this service by maintaining several large servers, and on those large servers they maintain a number of virtual web hosts.

Virtual private Hosting

To overcome the bridge between shared hosting and dedicated hosting, comes the concept of virtual private hosting. It still shares a machine or disk, but the web server software and indeed the entire operating system environment is usually isolated for each site in a virtual hosting environment. So, you might have a computer or disk with 20 sites on it, 20 different web servers for those sites, and 20 isolated operating environments.



Unlike normal e-mail, which is accessed through a mail program configured for use on a specific computer, Webmail allows you to access your account on a Web page, using your browser. This means you can read, send, and organize your e-mail on any computer, anywhere in the world, with an Internet connection.

Web Server

A web server is a computer that stores websites and their related files for viewing on the Internet. Visitors wishing to access the sites and files simply type in the corresponding URL to the site they wish to view. Web hosting is big business in the age of electronic commerce.

Web Site

A web site is a collection of web pages that reside together on the World Wide Web and are connected with a common theme, and usually a common domain name. Websites can exist across multiple servers, and multiple IP addresses, and even multiple domain names, but have a common theme, and are inter-connected by hyperlinks in such a way that they function together as a complete site.


WWW stands for World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is the collection of networks that make up the Internet. The World Wide Web incorporates HTML files that can be viewed by any web browser connected to the Internet. The World Wide Web was created by the folks at CERN in 1991 in order to create a global network out of the many networks operating in various parts around the world.


An organization that exists to realize the full potential of the Web, it is a special interest group comprised of programmers, Web developers, execs in the industry, and users who help define specifications for the development of Web technology.



XML is a pared-down version of SGML, designed especially for Web documents. It enables Web authors and Web developers to create their own customized tags to provide functionality not available with HTML. For example, XML supports links that point to multiple documents (as opposed to HTML links, which can reference just one destination each). XML provides a powerful set of tools for developing a new generation of Web applications.




A Windows-based compressed file. ZIP is the industry standard for data compression technology, in part because it can hold directory structures in addition to files. On the internet, large graphics and programs are usually compressed as ZIP files and then made available for download. After you download a ZIP file, you need to use a decompression software program to "unzip" it.

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