Web jargon or “What the hell is changelog?”

This post intends to shed a little light to some of the terms you’ll probably encounter as a website owner. The list will definitely grow over time!

 

API

People interact with lots of big internet services, such as Facebook, Instagram or Google. Sometimes you need to get data from them (or post data to them).

For example, in the blog section of my portfolio, you can see my recent tweets. To get them, I use Twitter API. It acts as a public interface where my code send requests for data – in this case, for 20 latest tweets, posted by me.

Web is full of APIs – you can get current weather forecast, all tweets posted yesterday afternoon around Cairo, cute photos of cats from Instagram and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Backup

See a dedicated post about that.

Cache

Some web requests are pretty expensive: They either take a long time to finish or, if a lot of them is done simultaneously, can crash your website altogether. That applies especially for API requests (see above).

To avoid this, the result of the call is stored (cached) for some time until the data are requested again. This type of temporary storage is called cache.

For example: You need 6 most recent Instagram photos with hashtag #koala. If you would request them each time you refresh the page, your website would be probably quite slow (and you would probably even get blocked by Instagram). It’s better to request them once in 5 minutes and store the result in between.

Because of that you may experience some delay from API calls on your website – koala photos appear 5 minutes after publishing. However I usually provide some button for web editors, that can clear cache and force refresh immediately.

Changelog

Building a web can get a little lost in the details. It’s good to have some sort of a “roadmap”, that contains a specific list of remarks and a plan of what lies ahead.

Changelog is basically just that. It records all remarks, changes and stages of the project (past and future). All of that is sorted to versions (such as 0.4, 0.6.1) so we don’t get lost in it.

It also serves as binding layout of what comes next, so be sure to check that regularly to make sure I didn’t get anything wrong.

CMS – Content management system

Every serious website should allow its owner to add or edit information, even though she does not know how to code. You do this from CMS – you log in, find the content you want to edit (or add a new one) without any technical knowledge.

There are many CMS out there, but for a lot of reasons, my definite weapon of choice is WordPress. More on that later.

Database

Anything you add through CMS (be it a blogpost, site title or introduction text) ends up in the database –  basically a huge table filled with data. Website’s theme (see below) requests the pieces from it and display it on the front-end of website.

Domain

This is what users type into their browser if they need to get to your page (“cibulka.me” in case). You pay small amount annually (around 10-15 EUR) to be a legal owner of your domain.

Hosting

All of your website data is stored here. You rent your server space and pay an anual fee.

Prize ranges a lot, depending on a type of hosting (shared hosting, dedicated server, etc.) and various other features. For most cases, I find a good basic plan around 18 EUR / year sufficient. And I can’t recommend Mixhosting enough.

Images

See a dedicated post about that.

Newsletter

Want to stay in touch with your visitors? You can send them pretty e-mail each month with everything that’s going on in upcoming month. See what I designed before.

Responsive design

Mobile now accounts for more than a half of web traffic. You definitely will have visitors, who come to your website from their phones. Some of your users may even be visually impaired, so they use screen readers.

Responsive design changes the layout dynamically by responding to a current user device (be it a phone, tablet, screen reader or a printer). And in this era, it’s simply a must-have.

Security

See a dedicated post about that.

SEO

No website can do good if people can’t find you. SEO stands for “Search engine optimization”. It’s a range of various activities aimed to a simple goal: Rank higher on search engines (Google, Bing or Seznam.cz for Czech context).

From my point of a view, the main factor in solid SEO is good marketing and clever content strategy. The code itself should not stand in a way, but it’s definitely not a huge factor.

Check this basic introduction to the topic.

Testing

There are thousands of devices and browsers people use to visit web. Each comes with its own quirks. Because of that we need to test a lot. There are obvious basics – Chrome, Firefox, Edge and more recent IE versions, common mobile browsers – but for anything beyond that a clear and realistic approach has to be stated.

Web se však v poslední době naštěstí standardizuje a rozdíly ve fungování aktuálních verzích prohlížečů postupně mizí.

Theme

Everything your user sees. How does your website work with information from your database, how it looks, how it feels, what user experience it provides. More on templates and WordPress soon.

Vector

See a dedicated post about that.

WordPress

Content management system (see above) I work with. More on this soon.

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