If you are a busy person running a small business, or just not wanting to spend years learning how to become a geek, you might find it useful to have some terminology under your belt.

There is a lot to learn about online environments and having a bit of knowledge can help a lot when you need to make decisions about what tools you want to use for your online profile. Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing some tips about getting your product and profile out into the world of cyberspace, starting with some basic terminology.

In an earlier post, I talked about app development  and the need to make informed decisions when considering developing tools for mobile and handheld devices. Today, I would like to go back to basics and introduce some of the language of the online world, which will help you when talking to developers and designers. This is just a start, but hopefully it is enough of an introduction to give you some ideas about what options are available.

  • Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is an online software tool that allows you to create, edit, and publish website content via a web publishing tool that allows one or more users to publish updates live on the Web. Ideally, a CMS should offer an intuitive user interface for building and modifying webpage content.
  • Cross-media/Transmedia. This is a more recent term which refers to a story or experience distributed across media platforms using a variety of media forms. Cross-media is most evident in branded entertainment, advertising, games and quest based forms such as Alternate Reality Games.
  • Cyberspace. A bit of an ‘old school’ term these days, but popular in the 1990s. Cyberspace refers to the virtual online space of the Internet and the realm of electronic communication. For more clues, check out the Matrix Trilogy 🙂
  • Multimedia. Another term popular in the 1990s, multimedia refers to the combined use of media, such as movies, music, lighting, CD-ROMs, and the Internet for education and entertainment.
  • Platform. A “platform” usually refers to a computer’s operating system. For example, a Dell computer running Windows XP would be considered to be running on a Windows platform. Note that the term is also used in the context of social media (just to keep things complicated).
  • Responsive Web Design (RWD). The term refers to the way of designing websites so they display elegantly across different devices and screen sizes – e.g. for desktop, laptop and mobile. RWD also includes designing for touch screens.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine. It combines strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo).
  • Social Media Platform/Channel. Social media refers to the interaction among people (users), where they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas. The platform/channel refers to the type of tool that they use to generate and exchange information and ideas (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn).
  • Static Website. A static website contains Web pages with fixed content. Each page is coded in HTML and displays the same information to every visitor. They are the most basic type of website and are the easiest to create. A static site can be built by simply creating a few HTML pages and publishing them to a Web server.
  • User Centred Design (UCD or sometimes referred to as UX). UCD is a process (not restricted to interfaces or technologies) where the needs, wants, and limitations of users (consumers) of a product, service or process is given extensive attention at each stage of the design process. UCD can be characterised as a multi-stage process requiring designers to analyse how users are likely to use a product, and to test the their assumptions with actual users.

This list and discussion will be expanding over time so stay tuned!

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