70 Web Design and Development Terms We Wish You Knew, Part One

We’ve been designing and developing websites for 16+ years. So, naturally, we use a good bit of jargon. Sometimes it’s shorthand but the majority of the time we use these terms because they are the best way to describe a thing we do, need, etc.
So, I asked our creative and development directors to send me the terms they wish our clients knew. Our intentions are honorable here, I promise. We simply want to make sure you understand us when we “speak geek.” Or at least our brand of Geek.
We’re always happy to explain what a term means. But, maybe this list will help us all be even more productive.
And, if there are any terms we’ve missed, please let me know. We’re breaking this into two part because let’s face it, 70 definitions is a lot for one sitting.
Here’s a quick view of our vernacular and their definitions (sources at the end of the post) followed by a Wood Street clarification or further explanation as needed…
301 redirect
Definition: “A permanent redirect from one URL to another, usually from your old website to the new website. (e.g.“website.com/about-us” now redirects visitors to “website.com/our-company” on the new website.”1
Wood Street: Basically, when you redesign a website, some links will change. So, make sure Google can still find the content. 301 redirect rules give Google instructions for finding your new pages.
Definition: “An error page that a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your website. Usually, this is due to a visitor mistyping the URL or attempting to access a page that has been deleted from the site. An effective 404 error page should communicate why the page doesn’t exist and what users can do next.”1
Wood Street: Users will see this page if the link they’re using no longer exists. Create a 404 page that acts as a directory to redirect the user so they stay on your website. Here’s our 404 page…

Accessibility / 508 Compliance
Definition: “Website accessibility concerns making a website accessible by people with disabilities. All websites built should follow guidelines outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.”1
Wood Street: Also known as 508 Compliance, there is a list of rules on a website run by the GSA. Basically, make sure that people with disabilities can access and use your website. So, fonts need to be clear and legible, images must be labeled for people who are visually impaired so the name of the image can be read to them. 508 compliance is still only “required” for government websites. That said, it’s always a good idea to make sure your website is as compliant as possible. There are lots of tools to check for this. Your webmaster should be able to run a quick report to let you know what issues need to be resolved to get your site in compliance.
Definition: “A is for agile, a major buzzword across the entire tech industry right now. Agile web development essentially refers to a particular way of working, and you’ll often hear this term in the startup world. In an agile team, web developers will work according to weekly or biweekly sprints. A sprint usually consists of five phases: design, develop, test, deploy and review.”2
Wood Street: Agile means you are developing and deploying features as they are completed. So, you’d launch with something much sooner and make adjustments and improvements to a live website or app. This initial launch is known as the minimal viable product/website/app. Agile is growing in popularity and is the preferred method of most developers. That said, it’s not always preferred by clients who want a fixed price and fixed deliverables.
Definition: “An algorithm is basically a set of steps for carrying out certain tasks. In computer programming, algorithms are a key part of problem-solving. When creating an algorithm, developers will document all the necessary steps it took to arrive at a solution to a problem, and what each step involved.”2
Wood Street: An algorithm is a programmatic solution to a problem. It’s the code equivalent to an instruction manual.
ALT tag
Definition: “Alternate descriptive text that is displayed inside the image placeholder while the page is loading. ALT text plays a role in optimizing a website for ADA compliance [see above], helps with SEO ranking, and overall web accessibility.”1
Wood Street: It’s the text associated with an image that displays when an image isn’t loaded or able to be seen. You may have seen something similar in an email before you download or show the images.
Definition: API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API enables two different programs to communicate with each other by making some parts of the website code available to developers. Developers can use this code, i.e. the API, to build tools and widgets that can be connected to that particular website.”2
Wood Street: Let’s say you have a WordPress or Drupal website and you need your contact form to connect to your email marketing solution, say MailChimp or ConstantContact. An API would facilitate that connection. Whenever a developer mentions an API, they are looking for a way to connect two pieces of software for a singular purpose.
Definition: “Software that is used for business or entertainment. The terms “application,” “application program,” “software application” and simply “app” may refer to virtually any type of program from spreadsheets such as Excel to media players such as iTunes to virtual reality games such as Second Life. However, the term specifically excludes essential control software such as the operating system .”3
Wood Street: An app is a standalone piece of software. Google Chrome is an example of software that can function as a web app, desktop app, and mobile app.
Definition: “Back-end development essentially refers to everything that goes on behind the scenes. What happens at the back-end — or server-side — powers what happens at the front-end, i.e. what the user sees and interacts with. Back-end development can be broken down into four main components of a software stack: the server, the database, the operating system, and the software.”2
Wood Street: Basically, if you cannot see it happen, it is likely a back-end function. For example, the interface where you type in a search in Google is the front-end. The back-end is what happens after you hit enter.
Definition: “The points at which a website’s content will adjust to accommodate various screen sizes to provide the user with the best possible layout to view content. In responsive design (see term below), breakpoints are often defined by common device widths, such as smartphone, tablet, and desktops above 1024px.”1
Wood Street: These are the sizes where a design layout will change, ie a desktop view, tablet view, mobile view, etc.
Definition: “Bootstrap is a free, open-source front-end framework for designing websites and web apps. It was developed by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter in order to encourage consistency across internal tools. Bootstrap includes HTML and CSS-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, tables, navigation, modals and more, plus JavaScript plugins.”2
Wood Street: Bootstrap is a bunch of pre-written code that front-end developers use to turn a design into a functional website. At Wood Street, we have a similar framework we created to streamline our front-end development.
Definition: “A web browser is the software used to access the internet and display web pages. When you type a web address or URL into the browser, you are effectively sending out a series of requests. The browser will gather all the different elements that make up that particular webpage, such as images, ads, and content, from wherever they are stored (i.e. different directories or servers) in order to display the page that you see. The most common browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari for Apple, and Opera.”2
Wood Street: Every device uses a browser to access the internet. When we ask what browser you are using, it is usually one of the ones listed above in the definition. We need to know this because all browsers are different and can display a website differently than the others. We need specific browser information so we can replicate the bug (see below) you are seeing and fix it.
Definition: “A bug is an error that prevents a website or app from running as it should.”2
Wood Street: When we are debugging code, we are literally looking for errors in the code. Sometimes a bug could be missed during initial testing. This occurs because some bugs don’t reveal themselves until someone performs a unique action. That’s why when you encounter an error, it’s important that you recount the steps it took to get to that point and relay those back to us in detail. This way we can recreate the issue and fix the bug. Otherwise, it could be a matter of reviewing thousands of lines of code to find the bug.
Definition: “A cache is a temporary data storage mechanism that aids in site speed by storing relevant information on your computer the first time you visit a website so that your computer does not have to reload that information each time you access the site again.”2
Wood Street: We will often ask you to clear your cache when we’ve posted a change for you to review. The reason for this is, as you see in the definition above, your browser has stored elements of a website so they load faster the next time you go there. If you go to see a change and it isn’t there, you’ll need to clear your cache. You can do this by pressing CTRL/CMMD + F5 while in your browser.
Call to Action (CTA)
Definition: “Specific text, image, banner or button that uses action-oriented language that urges a visitor on a website to act. CTAs are designed to move a visitor from one page to the next and persuade them to take an expected, predetermined action. (e.g. Download a Whitepaper, Register for a Webinar, Contact Us, Learn More, etc.).”1
Wood Street: A CTA should be clear and obvious. You want your most important CTAs to appear “above the fold.” You can see two examples in this desktop view of a website we designed for JoJo’s Restaurant and Tap House in Frederick, MD…

Definition: “Code is essentially what web developers write using programming languages. To see exactly what code looks like, right-click on your internet browser window and click ‘view page source.’ You’ll then be able to see the code that’s behind this particular website.”2
Wood Street: We develop in a few different types of code (definitions in this list): HTML/CSS, PHP, JavaScript, and jQuery.
Definition: “CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It is a markup language responsible for the visual elements of a website. HTML (another markup language) is used to determine the structure and content of the webpage. Web developers will then use CSS to style this content; in other words, CSS tells the browser how the HTML elements should be displayed. CSS is used to apply colors and to determine font, text size and alignment, to name just a few.”2
Wood Street: You may have gone to a website and it looks like it went through a “Way Back Machine.” All the images are gone, the text is very plain, and the links are all underlined and blue. This usually means the CSS is not loading properly as CSS is what controls how the information is displayed. Without CSS, the browser will simply show the basics. Not all CSS is created equal. Some can be poorly written or bloated causing a website to load slowly and not display properly. Wood Street’s CSS is, of course, good stuff!
Content Management System (CMS)
Definition: “A software system that is used to edit the content on your website. This allows you to login into the “back-end” of your website to edit the text and images. Some examples include WordPress and Drupal. A CMS is designed to simplify the publication of website content, without requiring technical knowledge of code.”1
Wood Street: Universal access to open source content management systems like WordPress and Drupal have revolutionized digital marketing. A CMS allows an organization to make all website edits themselves. It’s a time and money saver but, more importantly, it means you can manage your own content. This removes any bottleneck so you can be agile with your marketing efforts. If you have a CMS but do not know how to use it, get training. If you don’t have a CMS, we highly recommend upgrading to one. We have yet to find an organization that can’t benefit from a CMS.
Definition: “When a user takes a specific desired action related to online marketing and lead generation. This includes completing a web form, submitting a request for information, subscribing to a newsletter or making an e-commerce purchase.”1
Wood Street: You would use a CTA (see above) to drive conversion. The success of your website will be, more than likely, dependant on how many conversions occur within a given period. This is the most effective way for you to measure ROI. If your conversion rate is low, you may want to consider implementing some CRO or conversion rate optimization.
Definition: “A small text file (up to 4KB) created by a website that is stored in the user’s computer either temporarily for that session only or permanently on the hard disk (persistent cookie). Cookies provide a way for the website to recognize you and keep track of your preferences.”3
Wood Street: Cookies have gotten a bad rap over the years. Yes, cookies can be used for nefarious purposes, but for the most part, they are used to improve the user’s experience. Cookies can be used to reduce load times or to keep users from having to enter data multiple times. Trust us when we tell you that cookies are your friend. Don’t believe me? Delete all the cookies stored in your browser and then talk to me after you’ve had to fill out a bunch of forms, etc again on sites you use all the time.
Domain Name
Definition: “An Internet domain name is a unique name of an organization or person on the Internet. The name is combined with a generic top-level domain (gTLD), such as .com or .org. For example, computerlanguage.com is the domain name for the publisher of this encyclopedia. By 2019, there were more than 300 million registered domain names.”3
Wood Street: A website can have multiple domain names but only one is the primary. The other domains can be set to point to the primary.
Definition: “Domain Name Servers (DNS) are like the Internet’s version of a phone book, controlling your domain name’s website and email settings. When a user visits your website address, the DNS settings control which server to point them to.”1
Wood Street: Please, please, make sure you know where your domain is hosted. And please be certain that you’ve set the account to “auto-renew.” We’ve seen too many companies either lose track of their login, or the account was setup with an ex-employee’s Yahoo email. This is how you lose your domain. Take this seriously as it is the #1 way that people find your company. Here’s a useful article on DNS.
Dots per inch (DPI)
Definition: “DPI is used to measure the resolution of an image both on screen and in print. As the name suggests, the DPI measures how many dots fit into a linear inch. Therefore, the higher the DPI, the more detail can be shown in an image. It should be noted that DPI is not dots per square inch. Since a 600 dpi printer can print 600 dots both horizontally and vertically per inch, it actually prints 360,000 (600 x 600) dots per square inch.”4
Wood Street: Oftentimes we will ask you for “high-resolution images.” This is what we’re referring to. So, even though the web only requires 72 DPI images, we prefer to start with 300 DPI images so we have enough space/resolution to crop or manipulate the image to work with your new website.
Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)
Definition: “EPS is a PostScript image file format that is compatible with PostScript printers and is often used for transferring files between various graphics applications. EPS files will print identically on all PostScript-compatible printers and will appear the same in all applications that can read the PostScript format. PostScript code is used for storing font and vector image information. Vector images are usually drawings created by programs such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. EPS files may also include a rasterized version of the image used for previewing the contents of the file.”4
Wood Street: As you can see, an EPS is so much more than just a graphics file. When we design your website or create collateral materials for you, we need your logo in an EPS format. We can ensure the logo will display properly if we start with an EPS. The graphic designer who designed your logo should have provided you with an EPS format of that logo design. If not, ask if you can get one and then store it somewhere safe that can be easily accessed by those who might need it.
Definition: “A small icon image, often a company logo, that displays on the title bar or tab of a browser.”1
Wood Street: This is a small but very meaningful little piece of design. If you’re anything like me, you keep a lot of tabs open on your desktop. So, it helps to have a favicon in your tab so users can easily go back your website when they’re in another tab. Here’s our favicon…

And here it is with a bunch of other favicons…

Fluid Layout
Definition: “A fluid layout is a type of webpage design in which layout of the page resizes as the window size is changed. This is accomplished by defining areas of the page using percentages instead of fixed pixel widths.”4
Wood Street: We present our designs to clients as a flat JPG file at first. Sometimes, clients are confused and wonder why the design looks different in various browsers or on different computers. Our explanation is usually something about this being a flat JPG and that the functional website will be fluid and fill the screen appropriately. This is what we’re referring to.
Fonts (True type / Postscript / OpenType /Sans Serif / Serif)
Definition: There are a few here to define…

TrueType Fonts: TrueType is an outline font standard developed by Apple and Microsoft in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe’s Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. It has become the most common format for fonts on the classic Mac OS, macOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.5
PostScript Fonts: PostScript fonts are font files encoded in outline font specifications developed by Adobe Systems for professional digital typesetting. This system uses the PostScript file format to encode font information. “PostScript fonts” may also separately be used to refer to a basic set of fonts included as standards in the PostScript system, such as Times, Helvetica and Avant-Garde.5
OpenType Fonts: OpenType is a file format for scalable (outline) font files that extends the existing TrueType font file format used by Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems. OpenType was developed jointly by Microsoft and Adobe and allows an Adobe postscript file to be part of a TrueType font file.5
Serif and San Serif: In typography, a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. Times New Roman is a serif font. Arial is a sans serif font.6

Wood Street: We included all of these different definitions so you understand how complex typography can be. This is just scratching the surface. For most of our websites, we use Google Fonts unless the client has a specific request. Some clients will have purchased the rights to use a specific group of fonts so that their website can stay on brand.
(The) Fold (or Above the Fold)
Definition: Above the fold is also used in website design (along with “above the scroll”) to refer to the portion of the webpage that is visible without scrolling. As screen sizes vary drastically there is no set definition for the number of pixels that define the fold.5
Wood Street: The fold is literally a moving target. A “fold” on a person’s computer screen may be completely different on someone else’s. Remember, users will scroll. If you focus too much on getting things “above the fold” you may miss some users who scroll automatically and zoom right past your targeted content. Instead, focus on the user experience and use design and technology to drive conversion instead of thinking of your website as a newspaper… because that’s where the term “the fold” comes from. Get with the times, man.
After I wrote this I came across a post on Facebook that is just perfect.

When you are scrolling through a website, this is how it goes. Think about things in terms of weight and visibility and less about ordering.
Definition: “Frameworks were invented to make the process of building a website faster and easier. You can think of a framework as a collection of solutions, tools, and components that you can access in one central location — rather than seeking them all out separately each time. Some common frameworks include Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap, and AngularJS.”2
Wood Street: We use Laravel for a lot of our larger builds. For the front-end (see below), we actually have our own internal framework which helps to speed up development. That said, we can develop in Bootstrap if desired. Bootstrap is a front-end framework. It helps to know your project framework in the event that you need to move from one developer to another. For example, your developer quit, or joined the circus, or went on a Magic The Gathering Quest and is no longer servicing your custom application. A new developer may ask what framework the application was built in. Knowing this answer will help speed up your search for a new team. And you’ll be able to make a selection based on their level of experience with that framework.
Definition: “Remember how the back-end is everything that goes on behind the scenes, and powers what goes on at the front-end? The front-end of a website, also known as client-side, is what the end user sees and interacts with. Front-end languages include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which all have a hand in determining the visual output of a website.”2
Wood Street: Front-end code is what makes a website a website. Without this code, a website would be nothing but a useless image or text with no functionality. Front-end code and frameworks continue to improve which is why it’s important to overhaul your design and UX every 3 years, give or take.
Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Definition: “It is a user interface that includes graphical elements, such as windows, icons, and buttons. The term was created in the 1970s to distinguish graphical interfaces from text-based ones, such as command line interfaces. However, today nearly all digital interfaces are GUIs.”4
Wood Street: GUI made computers accessible to everyone. Without GUI, only coders would be able to use computers in any meaningful way. So, thanks to Jobs and Woz for putting that Xerox GUI to good use!
Definition: “The web servers where your website files are housed, served, and maintained. A web server is a computer running web server software connected to the internet that allows visitors to access a website through an Internet-connected web browser or mobile device.”1
Wood Street: Where you host your website is very important. We recommend you host on a business class server with excellent ratings and super fast speed. If you host on a cheap hosting platform, just remember, you get what you pay for.

Cobrowse is Cobrowse, Right? Wrong!

Why DOM cobrowsing is different (and better)
We hear it on our sales calls sometimes: “Oh, we’ve tried cobrowse, it didn’t work.”
Cobrowse technology has been around for years and many organizations have tried, with varying success, to deploy it on websites, in SaaS apps, and for digital transformation projects with the goal of enabling agents to share a browser view with customers for collaboration and support.
We had a recent conversation about cobrowsing with analyst Dr. Brent Kelly, founder of consulting firm KelCor and noted expert in contact center technology and operations. Dr. Kelly wrote up his findings in an article for No Jitter here.
The bottom line is, all cobrowse is NOT the same. There are different technical ways to create a cobrowsing experience. Some methods are better than others. If you’ve been disappointed by cobrowse in the past, or if you are confused by why cobrowse works great when deployed by one provider but not by another, read on to learn the critical elements for success.
What’s the best way to do cobrowse? Here is a recap of Dr. Kelly’s assessment:
Cobrowse Method #1: Generating screenshot representations of web pages
Brief Description:
A snapshot of the web page is sent from the customer’s browser to the agent. The image will be retransmitted at some predetermined frequency to imitate movement or animation (scrolling, mouse actions, etc.).
Why it fails:
The images would typically be compressed, affecting quality (pixilation, fidelity, etc.). Some graphics might not render. Agent annotations (i.e., when the agent highlights page elements to guide the customer’s navigation) can be delayed on the customer’s screen and/or may not display properly or in the right place. Performance at scale quickly becomes an issue — image files are relatively large, so this method can be a significant burden to the server and networking infrastructure of high volume contact centers.
Cobrowse Method #2: Sending a video representation
Brief description:
Similar to the screenshot method described above, but the image frames are converted to a compressed video stream (often it is WebRTC).
Why it fails:
Similar to the method above, video files are even larger than screenshots, and so this method is an even larger resource hog. We have had to replace this type of cobrowse in several high volume deployments because it demos OK but it is unable to scale. It is tricky to mask private and secure information on your customer’s screen (social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords and user names, etc.) so this can expose you to GDPR and PCI compliance risks. Because WebRTC combines video with audio it is difficult to integrate WebRTC-based cobrowse with existing call center voice technology. Also, WebRTC is not supported by some browser versions so if your customers are using old browsers you may run into trouble that can be difficult to quickly and easily resolve.
Cobrowse Method #3: Rendering using the Document Object Model (DOM)
Brief description:
The DOM method of cobrowsing was pioneered and refined by Glance (in fact, we hold several patents related to it). Here’s how Dr. Kelly describes Glance’s DOM-based cobrowse
It sends the actual DOM elements (HTML, CSS scripts, etc.) from the customer’s Web page to the agent for full-fidelity viewing. This is the most accurate way of sharing a Web page or app screen with an agent because the fonts remain crisp and the images maintain their quality, with 100% compatibility across any browser in use. If an agent marks up the screen, the annotations get inserted into the HTML code and are displayed perfectly on the customer’s side.
Why this is the best technical approach for cobrowse:
As Dr. Kelly notes in his article…
Using the DOM method has some significant advantages:

It’s computationally efficient.
It’s bandwidth efficient.
Web pages display properly, with no artifacts or distortions.
Annotation works properly.
It’s 100% compatible with any browser.

(Editor’s note: I would add that our DOM-based cobrowsing is betterfor data privacy and security compliance than other methods. For example, when we mask private data it is redacted from the DOM before it ever leaves the customer’s browser, completely eliminating the GDPR or PCI risk.)
A cautionary note about proxy servers:
Some cobrowse providers leverage DOM sharing via a proxy server. Using a proxy introduces several critical problems. First, it results in a very disruptive customer experience, forcing the customer to re-log-in to a new session of your website or app and then finding their way back to the page where they were experiencing the problem. Also, it can expose you and your customers to man-in-the-middle attacks. Glance Cobrowse does not use proxy servers, and our competitors who do use proxy servers will almost certainly fail any rigorous security review.

How to Check Your Website for Web Accessibility – ADA Compliance

I’ve written here on the blog about ADA compliance, also known as 508 compliance, or more broadly, as web accessibility. My daughter is blind, and because of that, her online experience often suffers because many websites fail to provide adequate solutions for those with disabilities. Websites are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but only agencies that receive federal funding, such as non-profit organizations, government agencies, public schools, and public colleges and universities are required to be compliant.

It doesn’t take as much effort as you may think to ensure your site is compliant for anyone with a disability. Even if your customers aren’t blind like my daughter, you may have some who suffer from vision issues, which makes your content hard to read. Without proper alt tags, screen readers won’t be able to depict what’s on the screen accurately.
And of course, vision issues are only one segment of disability that your customers and potential customers may be dealing with. There’s also those who have hearing difficulties, motor disabilities, and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. In another one of my previous posts on the subject, I covered the essential list of things you need to consider in building a 508 compliant website, so today, I’m going to make sure you know how to check your website to see how well you’re meeting compliance.
Using the information you get from the checkers and the list I’ve provided, you should have a good idea of how well you’re meeting the mark, and what else, if anything, needs to be done to ensure total compliance.
List of Tools to Check Website Accessibility and Your Site’s ADA Compliance
The following is a list of various tools you can use to evaluate how well your site meets website accessibility standards.
This tool is more than a web accessibility checker. It’s a sitemap generator that checks for website accessibility, inventories and audits your content, and tracks keywords daily. Results are shown within visual sitemaps for easy use. Version 20.0 includes the visual accessibility testing that shows issues visually in your browser, covering a variety of guidelines, including WCAG 2.1 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, WCAG 2.0 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, WCAG 1.0 W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Section 508, U.S. federal procurement standards, Stanca Act, BITV, Italian accessibility legislation, and German government standards. The program assists by automatically checking groups of pages or sites, including those that are restricted or password protected, and generating reports of assessment results. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, and XHTML. Plans start at $40/month.
A11Y Compliance Platform
This tool is available through the Bureau of Internet Accessibility. It covers WACG, Section 508, and ADA compliance. Clients are assigned to a dedicated manager who oversees their site to assist with anything the platform generates from their reports. The platform checks individual web pages or groups of pages – with its web-based, online, hosted service. It supports CSS, HTML, XHTML, PDF, SVG, and SMIL file formats.
Axe Chrome Plugin
This Chrome Plugin evaluates the accessibility of applications and websites from within the Chrome Developer Tools, and it does it for free, though it only works on Google Chrome. Installing the plugin means it will check single pages automatically, including password protected and restricted access pages. It supports both HTML and XHTML and covers WCAG 2.0, Section 50, and U.S. federal procurement standards.
SortSite from PowerMapper
This tool checks for compliance with section 508 using 55 tests over 15 guidelines. It also checks for WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 with 87 tests and 309 tests, respectively. Recently, they added checks for WCAG 2.1 with 312 tests.
Enter your domain name, beginning with either HTTP:// or https:// and the tool will scan your site. Within a few minutes – some scans will take longer depending on the size of your website – you’ll have a full report that shows you the percentage of pages on your site that have issues, and breaks down the problems and errors on the first ten pages of your website. For complete reports, you’ll need to purchase the software, but there is a 30-day trial that allows for scanning more than 10,000 pages.
Cynthia Says
This program is part of an education and outreach effort from Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, Cryptzone, and ICDRI. They aim to help people find and fix website accessibility compliance errors and provide feedback. It covers WCAG 2.0, Section 508, and U.S. federal procurement standards, and supports HTML, images, and CSS. It’s available for free as an online checker and software.
I take my role as an SEO expert and a disability advocate very seriously, not just for my daughter, but for everyone like her, who struggles to be able to access the internet the same ways her peers can. I am part of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Group (WCAG) with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). My company joined this reputable organization back in 2004 as the first SEO company to do so. I take my accessibility advocacy with me offline, too.

5 Lessons I Learned from Building My First Website

I do not have a web development background. I studied marketing in college, and all of my past jobs and internships revolved around marketing. So, in an attempt to branch out and develop some new skills, I volunteered to work on a website redesign for a client.
It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of Google searches, endless questions to our developers, and lots of reading, but with the help of my team, we were able to put together a site that I was proud of.
The whole project was very much a learning experience, so in this rambling, I’m going to be listing the 5 biggest lessons I learned from building my first website.
Use generic CSS styles instead of inline styles.
This was the biggest mistake that I made and probably took up the biggest chunk of my time. Instead of styling all of the fonts, headings, links, and colors in a CSS stylesheet, I applied inline styles to each element on the site. What would have been much easier is if I had gone through the theme settings and set predefined colors, fonts, etc. and/or written custom CSS that would apply throughout the whole website to save me some time and ensure consistency.
Think responsive.
In the first version of my site, I realized that I had built it to look great on my 13” Macbook Pro. What I didn’t realize is that the site looked weirdly stretched out on my coworker’s 17” monitor and very squished on my iPhone 5S. This is a very common mistake to make, but luckily is avoidable mostly by planning ahead and thinking about how your site will break down across different screen sizes. And if you don’t think that responsive design is important, some stats to convince you:
Over 20% of searches in Google are performed on a mobile device.
25% of Internet users in the U.S. access the Internet only on a mobile device.
If a user lands on your mobile website and doesn’t easily find what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website (AKA your competitor).
If a user has a positive experience on your mobile website, they are 67% more likely to buy your product or service.
(more stats here)
If it’s taking you a long time to build it, there’s probably an easier way.
This is one of our project managers, Nick’s favorite saying. If a relatively simple task is taking you more than an hour to build, there’s probably a much easier way to do it (think shortcodes and plugins). Chances are, what you’re trying to build has already been built, and there’s probably a plugin for it.
Along with this, it’s important to know when to ask for help. Sure, it’s a ton of fun to figure things out on your own, and that’s the best way to learn. Plus, the sense of accomplishment you feel when you figure out how to build out a really cool functionality all on your own is unparalleled. But if there is a point where you’re stuck and can’t make progress, ask for help or do some Googling. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Similarly, it’s important to look for better and more efficient ways to do things. The way to do that is simply by communicating with your team and asking them for ideas. There are usually several ways to reach the same end goal, but one way might save you a few hours. It’s important to talk with your team before you take on a project and get their input.
Chrome Developer Tools are awesome.
Prior to building this site, I had never really used Chrome Developer Tools (right click anywhere in Chrome > Inspect Element; F12 on PC; Command + Option + I on Mac) except to try to find out how something was built. But Casey, a member of our development team, showed me two really cool features that proved to be really useful for me.
The first was a great feature that lets you see how your site looks in different devices and on different screen sizes. All you have to do is hit “toggle device mode” in the Developer Tools menu and select the device you want to preview your site on. It’s not always 100% accurate due to differences in how browsers and operating systems render HTML and CSS, but it’s robust enough to be able to point out any glaring issues.
The other useful feature is being able to see how long it takes for your site to load and what elements are causing it to load slowly. When I first built the homepage, it took more than 15 seconds to load! Using the “Network” feature in Developer Tools, I could see what was slowing down the site (mostly large images) and make changes as needed. Just make sure to clear your cache before you run this test if you’ve been working on the site a lot (and voila, Chrome Dev Tools has a button for that too. Hit Settings > General > Disable cache).
There’s a ton more you can do with Developer Tools, but these two proved to be the most useful for me.
It’s not going to look exactly how you envisioned it.
When I first put together a strategy for the site (and yes, this is something you have to do for every site, no matter how big or how small), I imagined the site to look completely different than the way it actually turned out. And that’s okay. As we were building the site out, we found better ways to do things, added in some functionality that we hadn’t originally included in the strategy, and took some unnecessary sections out. Your site does not have to be exactly the way you outlined it would be in the strategy. Naturally, you’ll want to expand on some sections and add in cool features that maybe you hadn’t thought of before you started. Just make sure everything you’re changing is consistent with the original website goals.