The design process uses an entirely different lexicon than many other fields, which can cause confusion if you aren’t familiar with the common terminology of our industry. To help you attain a general understanding of the terms used in the design industry, we have created this glossary to introduce you to some common words and phrases.

General

Brand – Your brand defines and promotes your business through the use of cohesive marketing materials, including your identity, website, advertisements, and more. Your brand should communicate a consistent message that appropriately reflects your company to establish trust and familiarity with your customer base.

Comp – A comp is a sample layout that shows how the product will look when it goes to print or goes live. You should review all aspects of a comp for accuracy and appropriateness, including text, images, contact information, and layout.

Corporate Identity – Your corporate identity is the cohesive visual image of your company as it is presented through your marketing and advertising materials. It is comprised of your logo(s), as well as all the other elements of your identity package (letterhead, envelope, business card, fax sheet, etc.), as well as your HTML email template and more.

Embossing – Embossing is a printing technique that creates a raised, three-dimensional effect, adding texture and elegance to a printed piece.

Exclusion Zone – An exclusion zone is the area around your logo that should never have any other graphics or text in it. The exclusion zone guidelines, as outlined in your Brand Marketing Sheet, should always be followed to ensure that your logo achieves the maximum impact at all times.

Raster Graphics – Raster graphics are formed out of collections of pixels, which means that they will lose quality if they are enlarged beyond their maximum original size. (All photographs are raster graphics.)

Vector Graphics – Vector graphics are created using mathematical components, such as lines, points, and curves, which allows them to be enlarged to any size without losing quality. Logos should be built as vector graphics so they are fully scalable

Web

Active Server Pages (ASP) – ASP is a server-side script engine from Microsoft that supports the creation of dynamic web pages by pulling information from a variety of sources. For example, ASP can be used to query data from the SQL Server database.

Backend – Back-end refers to any software or database functionality that resides on a server and influences the interactive behavior of your website. The technology on the back-end of your site supports the performance of your site but is invisible to your viewers. For example, the functionality that transfers data a user enters into a web site form to your e-mail is in the back-end.

Browser – Browsers are the programs you use to view web sites. (In fact, you are using a browser right now to read this page.) Several different browsers exist (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Netscape, etc.), which makes it crucial that new web sites be designed to work on all the major browsers (known as cross-browser compatibility).

Cross Browser Compatibility – Cross-browser compatibility is achieved when the appearance and functionality of your web site is consistent across the major browsers. This can require intricate coding and multiple, targeted style sheets, but it is a crucial part of a successful web site.

Domain – A domain is the Internet address that identifies where your web site resides and allows users to locate your site. Domains can have a variety of extensions (.com, .org, .edu, etc.), with the .com extension being the most common. Since users access your website by typing your domain name into a browser or by searching through a search engine, it is important that your domain be as simple and intuitive as possible. (Note: Domains must be registered and hosted to be affiliated with a web site.)

Frontend – The front-end of your web site is the portion of your site that users see when they are interacting with your site. For example, the user interface portion of a form, where the user fills out information, is in the front-end.

HTML – HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is one of the languages used to build the content of your web site. It describes the structure, and to a certain extent the appearance and behavior, of the content on your site.

Search Engine – A search engine allows you to search the vast amounts of information on the Internet. Examples of popular search engines include Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Successful websites are coded to achieve maximum search engine exposure because this is how people who don’t know your direct web site address or domain name will find you company.