Let’s face it: You are not a web design aficionado. Else, you wouldn’t be looking at this article right now, and that’s OK, not many people are experts! So, if someone is building your new website, there may be some terms that you’ve never heard before and have no idea what they mean.

To help you understand just what the heck all these web designers are saying, here are 10 web design terms you need to know.

1. Pixels (PX)

These are the little dots that make up whatever you see on your computer screen.  To read this blog post, you need the tiny little dots that typically display red, blue, or green to work together.  Scary, huh?  Don’t worry, they’re friendly (we think).  The pixels form what you can see, including this very text. 

2. Resolution

This is the clarity of the different design elements within the overall layout, particularly images. Higher resolution usually also means larger file sizes, which can lead to slower website loading times.  Great web design and development is a balancing act that takes these competing factors into account so one doesn’t compromise the other.  

3. Pixels Per Inch

This is a derivation of resolution, except it’s focused on the number of pixels in any given section of a screen.  As technology improves screen resolution does as well, so the sharpness of each piece within the design needs to keep pace.  Newer devices simply require better quality pieces; the sum of all the parts is critical to the look of the website as a whole.

Related: 5 Questions for Evaluating Website Development Vendors

4. Vector

A vector image doesn’t rely on pixels. Instead, vectors use lines and shapes. This means that a vector image remains clear and crisp when it’s enlarged, or converted to a print piece.  Your logo should always be a vector file that’s converted and/or resized for website use.

5. Hex

Don’t be afraid – this isn’t some sort of voodoo curse.  A hex value is simply the numeric code for colors, and every color has its own. For instance: the hex code for pure black is #000000.  Web development is binary and mathematical, and colors are rendered in code, not words. 

6. Negative & White Space

Negative space is the distance around the elements on your website. Whether it’s a picture or text, it’s the space where nothing appears. White space is much the same, except it displays as white on screen, hence the name. The difference is that white space can also include the distance in between text, which affects the overall aesthetic of the site. 

Related: 7 Emerging Trends in Web Design & Development

7. Typography

This is a key visual element that can make or break the overall design and aesthetic. First, a font group or type must be web-safe, meaning it’s readable across a wide-selection of web browsers and devices. The specifics of a chosen font family, leading, kerning and tracking, or the space between lines, characters and groups of characters/letters, is designated by the website’s CSS.

8. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

The overall look of a website is based on CSS.  These are the rules the govern how the design displays – from fonts, to colors, to the size and spacing of all the different elements that compose the layout and structure.

9. HTML (Hypertext Mark-Up Language)

HTML is to websites as framing is to a house– it’s the foundation on which everything is built.  You can’t see it, but this backbone is ever-present and irreplaceable.  Non-metaphorically, it’s the language that informs the browser how to display everything correctly.

Related: Website Development Platforms | What You Need to Know

10. PHP

This is a development or scripting language that makes the website function – it’s the straw that stirs the drink. When you click a button, or perform an action this is the logic that makes that happen.  At Ironmark, we favor PHP because its open-source, non-proprietary, highly customizable and easily scalable.  It’s the engine that powers WordPress, the most widely used Content Management System (CMS) on the planet.


Believe us, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of terms that we just can’t cover here. And if any of these terms were new to you, we don’t recommend building your new site by yourself; You might end up with a website that is not up to current standards and not even know it!

That is why Ironmark is a leader in developing websites that will give you the peace of mind that you deserve. You don’t have to worry about whether your site is great! It will be if you let our experienced team of designers work with you to build your new site. Contact us today!

Written by Samantha Smith

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