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Web Development

Context Aware Development and The Internet of Things

August 19, 2016
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Ok…where to start with this one?! I’ve been doing a lot of digging lately. I’ve also been asking myself some pretty big questions. No, not the “what is life all about” question. More like the “where is the web going” question. What direction will technology take? How will technology fit into our lives in 5 years, 15 years, 50 years? I recently wrote a post on artificial intelligence and its place within the web, obviously it’s not there yet. Well…not truly there yet. It might be someday, but what I think we can count on as a virtual certainty is this concept of context-aware development and the Internet of Things (IoT).

What is the Internet of Things…

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Internet of Things, yeah? Well, just in case you aren’t, here’s kinda the concept. The IoT is everything that essentially has a technological pulse and its ability to collect, compile, and exchange data. From the electronic control module of an automobile to the smart refrigerator, your cellphone to your coffeemaker, headphones, wearables, even your washing machine. The Internet of Things is all these things being able to connect, not only to the internet, but each other. And that’s the rub, right? I mean, think about what you would do if your car already knew the best route to work dependent on the flow of traffic for that particular day. Or your FitBit woke you up and then signaled your coffeemaker to start brewing that morning cup of joe! It’s a compelling concept and one that’s quite executable… I think.

What I want to talk about is its connection to context-aware development. Now, some of you may not be familiar with this term, so let me elaborate. Development in websites, applications, mobile, and the like has taken an awe-inspiring (in my mind!) trajectory this last decade. Going from static HTML/CSS sites, to content management systems like WordPress and Drupal, and then onto scripting and programming frameworks that execute both client-side and server-side activities. We currently have more technologies that can talk to each other and work with each other than ever before. But context-aware development brings in the outside world.

Context-Aware huh?

Yeah, think about it for a minute. What is context? It’s the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed (courtesy of Google). So, context aware means that the behavior of a device will be enhanced dependent on the context. It will essentially take outside factors (like sunlight, movement, and signals from other devices) to determine what the best user experience should be. Let me explain. Let’s say you’re walking down a street, it’s super cloudy then all of a sudden the clouds break and the sun comes out. Imagine the website you’re viewing on your mobile phone adjusts the contrast so it’s easier to see the page. Now, I know what you’re thinking, there’s auto-contrast. But that’s built into your phone, not the website itself.

I’ll give you another example. Let’s say you are on the subway and reading a Boston Business Journal article. There is a particularly shaky section of track that you’re on and the subway starts rattling back and forth, making it extremely hard to read the text. Well, what happens if the text enlarges itself to make it easier to read. That would be a much better experience, would it not? Or the button that you want to click on gets bigger as a direct product of the condition of your environment. Or maybe the button turns white in a dark room, and black in a light room. That’s pretty kick-ass if you think about it.

Wearables…connecting your body to…well, everything else

The Apple Watch came out on the market and interested a certain section of the population. I don’t think it’s selling like hotcakes, but it’s still a pretty cool device. And let’s face it, it’s made by Apple, so it’ll just keep getting better as new versions of it come out. But there are a few things the Apple Watch and other wearables can do. The biggest thing I see is that most of these wrist devices can receive and collect information from the most pivotal environmental factor to a good user experience—your body!

Now, it can receive data like your heart rate (pulse), sleeping patterns, number of steps, type of activity (like jogging/cycling) and so on. As of right now, most all of these devices need to be synced up with an iPhone or similar device. But, again, as time goes on I think we’ll see these wearables getting smarter and more compact just like the cellphone. All the data it receives can be super useful in giving the wearer the ultimate experience. I also think that Google Glass (another wearable) will eventually make a big splash when the world is ready. For some reason it wasn’t well-received, I wonder why? Blog post for another day.

Let me give you an example of context-aware devices:

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a workout and your heart rate is elevated. Someone sends you a text and your wrist device holds off on letting it through until you can look at it when your heart rate is back to normal. Or the flip-side to that. Let’s assume you’re a doctor in the middle of a workout and someone needs emergency heart surgery. The sender can label the text message (or phone call) as “exigent” and your wearable can send you a quick buzz signifying that you might want to take this call! Or maybe you’re a senior citizen and you have a wearable that can tell if you’re having heart arrhythmia, you can’t get to a phone because of the pain, and your wearable connects to emergency services. Either way, you get the drift.

HMI’s…the connection for all connections

Human Machine Interfaces is a pretty broad term that can be applied liberally to iPod’s, washing machines, coffeemakers, automobiles, stereos, computers, and so on. But it really started in the industrial space with things like heavy machinery, but in the age of computers, that’s kind of subsided. An HMI essentially provides a graphical user interface (GUI) which connects a human to a machine. A great example of this is your car stereo (I have XM!). But it’s a visual representation of all the different channels you’re going through to get to the music you want. You can also control the volume, bass, treble, etc. Now, with the Internet of Things, the ambulatory devices should be able to connect with the stationary ones. Human Machine Interfaces will allow for connections to be made (and synced) from your cellphone to your car, your wearable to your coffeemaker, your iPad to your whatever!

Here’s another example:

Let’s take everything we’ve learned and try to put it into scenarios that would work. Think about this, you get home from a long morning run and you need to get ready for work. Your wearable locates how far away you are from your home and signals your coffeemaker to start brewing when you get close. You’ve got a fresh pot of coffee when you get home. But wait, there’s more.

You forgot to wash your clothes last night so you program your washing machine to start a short cycle, then throw your clothes in before you hop in the shower. You get out of the shower and throw your clothes in the dryer. Then you get a text from your coworker saying that the morning meeting has been pushed up by 30 minutes, oh shit! That signals your car to start and put the AC on (or get warm if you’re in a colder climate) and it also signals your car to find the most appropriate and quickest route to the office that morning.

Now, your car knows that you’re going to be rushed (it can feel your elevated heart rate), so it finds a station to play soothing music (think Enya) while you drive to work. You get your clothes out of the dryer, throw on that nice collared shirt and hop in your air-conditioned car that’s playing relaxing tunes and already knows the quickest way to get you to that rescheduled meeting. Life is good! Sah-weet!!!!

Are there any ramifications?

Of course, there’s always another side to that coin, right? Technology already controls a portion of our lives. Many are addicted to Facebook and other social channels. People text and drive. People text and walk. We tune out the outside world to live in our virtual bubbles. But I think connecting the Internet of Things, using context-aware development techniques, and devices getting smarter and more compact, are just going to help improve our lives.

Now, some would say that being this connected isn’t great. It means people work longer hours, people lose touch with their family lives, but the truth is that we can take this technology and make it work for us.

Your wearable tells you if you’ve been stagnant for too long a period, and can jolt you to get moving. Well, what if it could say something like “hey, go do something fun like hang out with your kids.” What if your cellphone or computer knew that you were spending too much time on it, and automatically shut down? There are lots of ways we could use all this technology and the IoT to our advantage.

When will this happen? What will make this happen?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I know CSS4 (which is currently out, but doesn’t have much browser support) does do a little experimenting with context-aware elements like pointer and hover. It also boasts Level 4 Media Queries, which really shaped the face of responsive design when media queries first came out.

I think everyone knows that JavaScript is really the “it” language for making a lot of this stuff happen. JS can access different avenues of data through the browser, device, or database. Essentially, it can do some really cool stuff like get GPS locations, time of day, weather/temperature, and the list goes on.

With all these technologies, and all the people working on (and with) these technologies, I can’t imagine it’ll be more than 2 or 3 years before we start seeing context aware development integrated with the Internet of Things. Now, for how long it’ll take to perfect it — well…maybe that will be never! Is anything ever really perfected?

Either way, I’m looking forward to this next evolution in the technology space. Context aware development and the Internet of Things will change the way we interact with technology and ultimately each other.

Artificial Intelligence — The Web’s Well-Wisher

August 6, 2016
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AI….it’s something I’ve always been fascinated by since I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey as a boy. HAL really made for an interesting introduction to artificial intelligence. Standing for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer, HAL was an AI system that controlled the spacecraft and could converse, think, and feel for himself (or itself). I became more enthralled by AI when I saw BladeRunner and it only continues to this day after just watching the movie Ex Machina (it’s freaking awesome!!). But is artificial intelligence on the web a real possibility? Like true AI? Maybe…there are some people out there imagining the possibilities including Kurzweil and CSAIL, two sites dedicated to artificial and agent-based intelligence. But how far off is such a monumental accomplishment? And what does it mean for the world wide web?

Let’s take a look at some repercussions, mainly known as the Singularity, it’s the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in Arnold in Terminator 2unfathomable changes to human civilization. In short, what we all saw happen in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hasta La Vista, Baby! Now, this would obviously suck, big time! But there are other areas that AI would impact, just not to that extreme. Human jobs would be eliminated, probably a lot of them and they might raise our children (just watch the BBC drama Humans).

The flip side is the good; simple around the house tasks like cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry would be taken care of for us, leaving your weekends open to go do what you want. Website building will be easy, almost effortless with AI (more on this to come!). There wouldn’t be any more accidents on the roads and highways (hopefully!).

Artificial Intelligence and its short existence

First, what is it? AI is trying to get a computer to think, and eventually feel. There’s a difference between types of AI. There’s Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), which specializes in one area, like chess. I’m sure you’ve seen the computer and mechanical arm beating some of the world’s greatest chess masters. Then there’s Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) that’s defined as a computer that is as smart as a human across the board. And finally, Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) which is a computer that is totally superior than the smartest humans in every conceivable way imaginable – this is the ‘end of world’ AI.

AI really started taking shape in the 50’s when the field of artificial intelligence was founded as an academic discipline. Alan Turing (you know him from CAPTCHA – I’ll explain later) published a landmark paper where he wrote about the possibility of creating machines that think. He made a point to say that “thinking” is difficult to define and devised the Turing Test. If you remember CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

Scientist then used programs based off of similar algorithms to achieve some goal, like beating a chess player or proving a math theory. Known as “reasoning as search” computers would search until they figured something out or hit a dead-end and back-tracked. Then came micro-worlds, natural language, and symbolic reasoning. If you’re that thrilled, just check out the Wikipedia page on The History of Artificial Intelligence.

We fast forward through the 80’s and 90’s where lack of funding really hurt the advancement of AI, but certain groups were still researching and testing. In the 90’s, we see the emergence “intelligent agents” which is defined as a system that perceives its environment and takes action which maximizes its chances of success. Think of customer help desks or personal shopping assistants, it’s software that assists and acts on the user’s behalf. The invention of digitized personal assistants like iPhone’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana was a huge leap on the quest for true artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence building websites…

You may be surprised to hear that the research and testing into AI has solved many technological problems of the 21st century including things like web browser intelligence, Google’s search engine, data mining, robotics, and more. But over this last year, specifically, we’ve seen an outburst of “artificial intelligence” website builders.

These website builders, like TheGrid and Wix ADI, claim to have AI that helps in designing and building a website for you. Now, if you are familiar with website design and development, there’s a certain process for making that happen. Most sites are built by designing the page, developing it using a markup language like HTML, and then adding in the content including images and text. But sometimes the content can make a page look bad or a little off, well AI website builders are supposed to change all that.

Straight from TheGrid’s website “our algorithms expertly analyze your media and apply color palettes that keep your messaging consistent and unique. The Grid also detects color contrasts, automatically adjusting typography color to maximize legibility.” – It seems pretty cool. They say “goodbye to templates, hello to layout filters.” I’m interested in this concept because I’m a web strategist, and anything that helps design scale is something worth looking into.

The Wix ADI claims to ask the user a “few simple questions, and the ADI designs tailored websites by learning about each person’s or business’ own needs. Next, choosing from billions of high-quality, stunning combinations and possibilities…” Well, I gotta say, I’m interested in this. They claim to build sites in minutes. Looks like I’ll be spending my next week on playing around with these things.

I’m still not convinced because in the realm of true AI, even AGI, this is but a wish. However, it still helps get closer to the end game. I’m really not sure how TheGrid or Wix ADI operates or builds its backend system, it’s proprietary, obviously!

Artificial Intelligence on the web…

If we look at other intelligent agents on the web like Chatbots, we’ll see that we are inching closer to true AI. PandoraBots is a service that builds and deploys chatbots. Do you have a website where you store a lot of information, or would like to get information from your visitors? Well, chatbots might be the answer for you. They’re basically conversational interfaces that you can integrate into other applications, just check out ALICEbot.

We also have Siri and Cortana, these are our personal intelligent agent assistants. We ask them where to find a good restaurant, how to get from Westminster to College Hill, what’s the latest news, we ask them Siri artificial intelligencewhat zero divided by zero is (just ask Siri the question!). We treat them like they are our friends, we ask them too because we’re desperate for validation. They politely reply with “of course, I’m your friend, Adam.” And for most of it, they get a lot of stuff right, they give good recommendations, the traffic wasn’t that bad, they explained why zero can’t be divided by zero in a really easy to understand way. But they still can’t think for themselves, they think for us. Viv, apparently the new AI assistant, seems to have better reviews than Siri. Allegedly, it integrates with different third parties to complete tasks like shopping for you and booking your hotel reservation.

Look at the web as a whole, the internet. It’s made up of all these different computers and servers, some owned by universities, private corporations, government bodies, etc. The only entity looking over this is the world wide web consortium, but they really put forth a set of principles. The internet and the web have grown into what it is today organically, not to mention darknets and the Dark Web. All these different moving parts, hardware and software, can talk to each other, integrate with each other. That’s pretty awesome!

Technologies that aid Artificial Intelligence…

Affectiva, a company that leverages facial recognition software, is leading the way in emotional AI. They help kids with autism, gamers, and people who want to analyze the facial expressions of certain photos. The human face has all these tiny little micro-expressions that can reveal your true emotional state. Now imagine this software was on an iPhone, couple that with Siri (or the new Viv) and the owner of the iPhone was in grave danger. It could register fear and dial 911. Or helping a severely depressed 16 year old. Or taking a picture of you at your happiest moment of the day. The possibilities are pretty wide spread.

What about virtual reality? Remember a few years back Mark Zuckerberg bought Oculus, the VR software. Whatever happened with that? Well, think of the possibilities there. If we want to get really crazy, in a few decades we could be sitting in our living room with those goggles on partaking in a virtual reality. I’m waiting for someone to put all these technologies together; Siri or Viv, facial recognition software, language recognition software, virtual reality, and the internet. Now we’re talking!

My thoughts on true artificial intelligence…

Well, I hope true artificial intelligence happens. I’m not sure it ever will though. Why? Because if it does, and we cross that threshold, bad things could happen. Imagine you make an intelligent being and their only purpose is to serve us, the humans. If they ever cross the barrier of being smarter than us, true super intelligence, then yes, I believe Singularity is a real possibility. There’s a reason why so many of those movies turn out bad, lol!

On the other side of that argument is the advancement of technology. I think people and scientists will keep striving for it, and it’ll be a really interesting day when we’re all introduced to HAL. But hopefully this time he won’t think that our existence is jeopardizing his own. The reality is this; that once we give a machine the ability to think for itself, we’ll never know what any of them are thinking. Just like the people we see everyday, a few think bad things then do bad things. Most people, though, are pretty awesome! So why wouldn’t machines be too?

 

Working With Premium Themes

July 12, 2016
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We’ve all seen it — the vividly pictorial mountain landscape as the main hero image for the newest theme out there. It screams out professionalism and beauty all in the same sweeping breath. It entices us to click ‘buy’ or ‘activate’ and then…nothing…”wait..where’d the cool picture go?” Working with premium themes (and free ones) can be a discouraging activity, but it can also be a largely rewarding experience when you figure it out!

I recently redesigned my portfolio website at adamlamagna.com, and what I mean when I say “redesigned” is that I used a pre-made theme. It’s called Uncode – Creative Multiuse WordPress Theme, it was hard to use at first, but I’m going to shed some light on that in the following post. I’ve used several premium themes on a number of my digital properties. The ones I’m familiar with are Divi, Nexus, and Harmony by Elegant Themes, Brook by Korra, and Uncode by undsgn. I’m also familiar with some free themes like Sydney by aThemes, and pretty much the entire suite of WordPress.org’s 20-something series—TwentySixteen, TwentyFifteen, etc. Working with themes is a skill that should be learned by everyone (my little sister learned how to do it) so people can have the freedom to put there stuff out there!

First, the differences between free and premium themes…

I’m not sure if there is a huge difference working with premium themes versus free themes, both need to be configured (some more than others), most are compatible with the suite of popular plugins including page builders, and given an eye for design… sites can look downright professional regardless of whether or not they cost money. So, I would say this answer depends greatly on your budget because the only real difference I see is the cost.

Premium themes do sometimes include premium plugins that you would have to pay money for if you didn’t buy the theme. They’ll also include pre-made templates (which is nice if you don’t have that eye for design like myself!), but some free ones include templates too. Years ago, a WordPress user would be browsing the themes repository and find a theme they liked, usually because they thought it looked cool. They clicked on the button to activate the ‘live preview’ and fell in love with the theme. But when they installed the theme and activated it, it looked nothing like the live preview! Now, that’s only sometimes the case. With many free and almost all premium themes, there will be pages, posts, portfolio pieces that are pre-made and configured for you. Most times, all you have to do is import the ‘dummy’ content with it, and you’ve got your site. Now just substitute your own content; images and text, and you can be up and running in a day or two depending on the size of your site.

The premium theme battle…

I’m torn between the premium themes I’ve used. For the sake of this post and not making it too long, I’m going to review 3 premium themes that I’ve used and have familiarity with. They are:

  • Divi by Elegant Themes
  • Brook by Korra
  • Uncode by undsgn

I’m also going to look at a few different factors:

  • Documentation
  • Support
  • Configuration Process
  • Ease of Layout/Intuitiveness
  • Responsive
  • Cost

Let’s begin…

DIVI BY ELEGANT THEMES

About two (or so) years ago, the Divi theme made a splash! It was released in 2013 as the most intuitive page builder and theme on the market. I personally know a lot of designers that use Divi to this day because Elegant Themes keeps iterating on it that improves the experience and the output. It is a cool and versatile theme.

Divi’s documentation is pretty vast and easy to understand, they also have video tutorials explaining the page builder and theme options. When I dove into building my first Divi website, it was pretty straightforward. All you do is click ‘Use The Divi Builder’ and you can start to create cool layouts.

Screenshot of Divi builder


It’s pretty intuitive right off the bat. As you can see from the above screenshot, it asks you to insert columns. You can choose how many.


Screenshot of Divi Builder columns


After you’ve decided how many columns that particular row will be, you can start adding modules, and the list of modules is pretty vast; images, text, headings, contact forms, call-to-actions, blurbs, etc.


Screenshot of Divi builder modules


Again, it’s pretty straightforward without having to read tons of documentation. So we click on a module, let’s create a ‘blurb’ – it’ll ask you for some information, like the title of your blurb, if you want to make your blurb a link, if you’d like to use an icon, etc. But the cool thing about the Divi Builder is that there’s instructions right in the module itself. See below:

screenshot of the blurb module on Divi


If you’re not all that familiar with modules or building websites in general, then those instructions really come in handy! What’s the end layout look like, though? Well, let’s see.

DiviBuild
The Divi Builder on top, and its output on the bottom

Now, it might not look like much, but it took me about 5 minutes to make that layout. And the more familiar you get with the modules and Divi Builder, the quicker you’ll be able to do it. Divi also has ‘Theme Options’ which are kind of like the global site settings. You can add your logo, favicon, integrate with MailChimp, enable social media icons and responsive shortcodes, fonts, smooth scrolling, and more. Responsively, the layout breaks down the way it should, with the left columns going above the right ones.

So, overall:

  • Documentation: Good documentation, easy to understand.
  • Support: Really great, quick to respond and informative.
  • Configuration Process: Relatively straightforward in the Theme Options
  • Ease of Layout/Intuitiveness: Super easy, build pages in minutes. Easy to get started without reading the documentation, but the deeper you dig into the modules, the more a beginner will need help and have to refer to the documentation or support.
  • Responsive: Works well on tablet and mobile.
  • Cost: Elegant Themes has a yearly (or a one-time lifetime) subscription model. I would recommend paying the extra dollars for the lifetime membership. See here for more details: https://www.elegantthemes.com/join.php

Overall, Divi is a pretty kick-ass theme!

BROOK BY KORRA

I find Brook to be a light and responsive theme that can’t be configured with a page builder (well…unless you add one in with a plugin, but let’s not!). Regardless, it does have a some good things going for it! It seems to me that Brook is geared toward blog sites, in fact this site that you’re reading now is done with the Brook theme! Again, it doesn’t have a page builder, so the way to configure the homepage is a little trickier. You’ve got to have your homepage as your latest post page, which you’ll find in WordPress core under Settings —> Reading. Now, you will need some content before this theme looks remotely close to what the ‘live preview’ looks like on Themeforest, and they give you an option to import the demo content. Right from the beginning the theme was a little more difficult to work with than the Divi theme, but I really liked the look of the live preview, so I knew I could get it to work.

But I had to read the documentation, and if it’s one thing Brook had going for it—it’s the documentation. It’s plentiful and easy to digest, from installing WP and getting the child-theme setup to widgets and theme options.


Brook Theme customizer


The Theme Options for Brook are in the native Theme Customizer seen above. It gives you options to add a logo and favicon in the General tab. You can change the layout of the header, sidebar, and footer. You can pick your own typography, color sets, and background and do a lot more.

One thing I noticed was that in order to get the carousel on the homepage to work properly, you had to crop all your featured images to be the same size. Otherwise the carousel will scale up to the largest sized photo in your featured images. But within a post, there are more options to add a certain sized featured image for different areas, the theme just recommends that you install the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. If your post was going to be in a widget area in your footer and you wanted to use a square image instead of a rectangular one, there’s options to do that. In fact, there are more post setting options to choose from when using the Brook theme and Advanced Custom Fields:

Back-end of Brook post settings


There are also different WYSIWYG formats and elements. So if you’d like to add a dropcap, like at the beginning of this sentence, you can! It adds a little more flavor to your site to be able to put cool elements in your post. You can also add different font sizes, icons, highlighted text, cool buttons and links, image sliders, Google maps, and more! I think it’s a really cool theme to use if you’re blogging about anything, but it’s not super intuitive, you have to read the documentation in order to get it!

  • Documentation: Plenty and easy to understand!
  • Support: Good support.
  • Configuration Process: Pretty straightforward with the Theme Customizer that is native to WordPress, but the homepage is a little more difficult to configure and the documentation will need to be referenced.
  • Ease of Layout/Intuitiveness: Not really easy. For beginners, this theme might be a little difficult to get right, but read the documentation and reach out to support with any questions.
  • Responsive: Works well on tablet and mobile, they even have a tablet and mobile screen option to choose from in the Theme Customizer, it’ll give you a break down of what your page will look like.
  • Cost: $44 on Themeforest.

Overall: This theme might not be for a beginner, but it is a super cool theme to use. I love it! People have commented to me that my blog looks really cool, and I agree. It’s simple, light, not too flashy, and it puts the content front and center (which is important!)

UNCODE BY UNDSGN

My new portfolio site that I mentioned above was done with Uncode, and I will say that this was the most difficult theme to use out of all 3 of them, and this one has a page builder. The page builder is Visual Composer, but Uncode’s customized version of it. When I downloaded Uncode and imported the demo content, it broke my site. I will say that this is a hosting provider issue, apparently I did not have enough memory space with my hosting provider, so that was an issue. Simple fix though, I just called up my hosting provider and they told me how to add more memory. I will say with all the themes I’ve used, I’ve never had one that has maxed out my memory.

When you install Uncode, it tells you to install about 9 different plugins to work the way the live preview does. It has two premium slider plugins included, Layer 5 and Revolution slider, so that’s cool.  And they also have upwards of 60 different layouts preconfigured with the Visual Composer (VC). Which was nice, because if I didn’t have those page layouts already configured, I’d have no idea how to create them. VC is pretty intense.


Visual Composer screenshot


It can separate the elements by content or structure, widgets or WooCommerce (if you have that installed, you don’t need it if you’re not selling anything). But then when you drill down, the options for a single element are super complex. Because there’s not only the element, but the container that it’s in. You can adjust the row settings, the column settings, the element settings. Divi was the same way, but not nearly as many options as Uncode, which could be good or bad depending on how much freedom you want with your layout.

Icon settings for visual composer
Element settings

Row settings - Visual Composer
Row settings

 

Column settings - Visual Composer
Column settings

So, for every element, you essentially have 3 different components to adjust. And you have to watch out for the overrides. Let’s say you leave a color blank, well it’s going to grab the default color that you have configured in your ‘Uncode Theme Options’ – it took me a while to figure out what was going on when I couldn’t get the text to be light on a dark background, even though I had those settings placed in the element. It was because of the default settings in Theme Options here:

Uncode Theme Options
Uncode Theme Options

There are a lot of different theme options, from typography to social media (connections) to individual pages, posts, portfolio pieces, and content blocks. What are content blocks, you ask? Well, they are Uncode’s very own custom post type. Built in to make cool headers, footers, or other content to be used globally if need be. But you have to make sure that when you are adding a layout, you either need to override the theme options, or the look will be what the defaults are set at.

Content blocks took me awhile to figure out too. When you look at a page from the front end:

Classic Agency page - Uncode theme


It looks super cool!! But then look at that same page from the back-end:

Classic Agency - Uncode - backend


You’ll notice that the Heading text in the back-end page is not “Thinkers & Designers” like the front-end page says it is. And the featured image in the right hand corner is not the featured image on the page, so how does this exist? Good question, it exists in content blocks. If you scroll all the way down on the back-end of the page, you’ll notice this little area:

Page options Uncode


Page Options —> Header, and you can select the type of header that you want, which will be placed at the top of the front-end output of the page. The page layout with Visual Composer will start below the content block header, unless you don’t have a content block selected. There are little intricacies like this across the entire site. I was pulling my hair out at times, but the support is really awesome! They also have a lot of documentation, I would strongly recommend starting there because even for a seasoned site builder, who’s used to configuring themes, this one took me awhile.

LAMA website - home page

Now, I will say that the end product looks really cool and the design is worth the hassle, but be prepared to connect with support if you are a beginner…and even if you’re not.

  • Documentation: Lots of it!
  • Support: Great support.
  • Configuration Process: Not straightforward, there are lots of interconnecting pieces to this theme and you have to be familiar with all of them to get stuff to work, and to troubleshoot.
  • Ease of Layout/Intuitiveness: Not really easy. The Visual Composer was not that intuitive for me because there are just soooo many options. After a few days you’ll get used to it and be able to design layouts quicker.
  • Responsive: Works well on tablet and mobile.
  • Cost: $59 on Themeforest.

Overall: This theme did frustrate me, more so than the Brook theme, which I thought was way easier to use. Uncode is big, it’s a lot of code, it’s got a lot going on. But the design is freaking awesome, so it’s definitely worth it in my mind. There’s a cool plugin called VC-Particle Background that I use on my homepage, check it out – adamlamagna.com

Continuing to work with premium themes…

I’ll most likely always work with premium themes, I do think they’re fun to use and can look really really good if configured properly. If you’re just starting out and not sure whether a premium theme is right for you, check out some of these links below!

How to Get the Most Out of a Premium WordPress Theme

Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Premium WordPress Theme

Enjoy your day!

The Cost of Doing Business with a Web Agency

March 3, 2016
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I got asked a really great question last weekend and figure I would expand on it in a blog post. The question was “what’s the difference between a $2,500 project/website and a $15,000 project/website?” This, believe it or not, is one of the most probing questions I’ve ever been asked. Hence, the need to write a blog post on it.

So…what is the difference?

I’ll tell you as I see it, and I want to preface this by saying, my word is not absolute. This is completely my opinion and my thoughts that stem from the experiences I have working at a small agency and a larger one. The smaller agency charged anywhere from $2k – $20k per project and the larger agency charged anywhere from $50k – $250k per project. I would love to say that the difference is level of effort, but that’s not necessarily true. I think what we have to do first, is look at the variances of what we’re talking about. There are many, many variances in agency types or tiers, types of projects or websites, and variances within those projects.

So what kind of an agency is right for your business, what are the pro’s and con’s of each?

Types of Agencies

In the design and development world there are all types of designers and developers ranging from freelancers to mega-web agencies, small design shops to professional engineering firms. There are marketing agencies, social media agencies, and SEO agencies. For the sake of this post, I’m going to concentrate on the different types of website design/development agencies, the ones that do strategy, design, and development. This will be mostly for people or companies looking to get a website designed and built.

  1. Freelancers: These are the hardest ones to put in a category, because like agencies, freelancers can range a great deal. There are the novice freelancers, many of them do projects for next to nothing, sometimes they actually charge nothing. They’re just starting out and want to grow their portfolios. But then, there are other freelancers out there who are phenomenal. Usually these freelancers are expensive and don’t take on many projects because their plate is already full. You can usually find freelancers ranging from the novice to the expert on sites like Upwork or Elance, just make sure to check out their ratings and reviews.
    • Advantages: One person owns the project from start to finish (not being shuffled between people); Almost always less expensive than agencies; Can usually get the job done very quickly
    • Disadvantages: One person owns the project from start to finish (so, stability could be an issue depending on the freelancer), if they run into a speed bump that could mean the end of the project; Skill set is usually limited to one area like development or design, not both — unless you find that unicorn freelancer, they are out there!
  2. Small ‘Everywhere’ Web Agency (2 – 10 employees): These agencies are very common and popping up everywhere (hence, the ‘everywhere’), and like freelancers, they can range a great deal. Most small web agencies don’t have a focus in terms of industry. They’ll work with a lot of companies ranging from lawyers to restaurants to local businesses. The owners often times act as project/account managers and the staff is limited in their experience. That’s not to say that these agencies aren’t good, there are good ones out there, but they mostly do simple marketing redesigns, blogs, and brochure-style websites.
    • Advantages: Prices can range, but usually it’s within a small businesses’ budget. Often times you can get redesigns done for $2k to $10k; These agencies are friendly and will treat you like family, and they’ll go the extra mile to keep you as a client.
    • Disadvantages: They sometimes use templates for design, so you’ll see many clients that have the same navigation bar or search box style; Sometimes they’ll modify themes instead of making custom ones; And often times they don’t have an in-depth process when it comes to the strategy surrounding the project.
  3. Boutique Web Agency (5 – 25 employees): These agencies are the ones that usually have sharp focus in a niche industry, like “we only work with non-profits,” which makes them really great in that one (or two ) specific vertical(s). Their process is somewhat refined and they have a small team. They usually have top-tier talent (one or two rockstars) and project or account managers. They work with medium-sized business and most likely have a few enterprise level clients.
    • Advantages: Focused verticals, know the specific industry inside and out; Refined strategy processes; Top-tier development and/or design talent; Most likely have good project management skills
    • Disadvantages: They have small teams that are most likely working on a number of different projects; May push out the start date depending on workload; Often times rely on the top-tier talent to take the bulk of the projects
  4. Professional Web Firm (25 – 75 employees): These firms are the ones that have focus in a few different industries and market themselves that way, but they’ll also push their own boundaries and take on projects outside their industries (not all the time!). They usually have a sales department (or sales guy) and marketing team. They’ll have dedicated project teams and a handful of project managers. They’ll also have a solid leadership team to motivate and corral the team members when needed. They have processes set in place and incrementally improve them. They consider strategy a big part of the web game and use it to deliver solid projects. They have full day discovery workshops and probably do user testing to confirm hypotheses. They work with big companies and enterprise brands, but still have a few small to medium businesses that they got when they were starting out.
    • Advantages: Custom work, you’ll get a unique website that’s built for your users (hopefully!); There will be an outlined process; Roles and responsibilities will be defined; Strategic thinkers that will use data to make informed decisions; Will assign a dedicated project manager; Top-tier talent
    • Disadvantages: They’re expensive; And they’re not the quickest on project timelines, they plan and plan, and that takes time; Often times they overload their team because of client demands
  5. Mega Web Agency (100+ employees): These are the large agencies that take on a number of different verticals, they almost always have distributed teams and work on some really big projects. They’ll have every type of agency person including user experience designers, digital strategists, marketers, software engineers, strategy partners, and a large leadership team with dozens of years of combined experience. They usually don’t take on projects for less than $250k (I know some that start at $500k or even above!). They work with brand names (think Google) and they’ll do mostly (if not only) custom work.
    • Advantages: Super custom work tailored to your users; Strategy will be the biggest part of the project; They’ll usually work in sprints and test at the end of each sprint to verify concepts and prototypes; Quality Assurance will be meticulous
    • Disadvantages: You need to be a huge company to work with these guys, because they are expensive; There might be a waiting list to work with them; There will most likely be a number of people in on the project at different phases/stages of the project, so you’ll meet new people constantly

What about agencies with 75 to 100 employees?

Good question! Well, this is by no means a complete list. I’ve noticed the farther I go in web services (or just web in general) there are soooo many types of agencies out there. There’s also the Digital Body Shop which usually has anywhere from 50 – 100 employees, and they do a bunch of different projects in different verticals and work with a myriad of industries.

Just remember, this stems from my own experiences and the people I’ve talked with.

Let’s get into project type and what their average costs are with the different agencies.

Types of Projects / Types of Websites

Like agencies, there are definitely a myriad of different projects and websites that can be created, designed, and built. Some are simple, and some are super complex. So, I’ll list out the most common projects most people are likely to encounter and most agencies and/or freelancers would take on. To limit things (because this is already a long post!!), I’m going to just do pricing for the 3 web agencies in the middle: Small Agency, Boutique Agency, and Professional Agency. Please keep in mind, these are averages (prices all depend on the scope) and can realistically range from $1,000 to millions!

  1. Blog: This is perhaps the simplest type of site which mainly consists of a content management system (like WordPress) and updated content coming out on a regular basis.
    • Price:
      • Small: $1,000 – $5,000
      • Boutique: $3,000 – $15,000
      • Professional: $10,000 – $35,000
  2. Microsites: These can be deceiving. Just the term ‘microsite’ sounds small, but I assure you they can be the opposite of that! Microsites are usually when a company wants to promote an event or showcase a certain branch or department of their company. Often times there is video or images, CTA’s (calls-to-action) prompting the user to do something like signup for a service or check out certain resources. They can be cool ways to get more awareness.
    • Price:
      • Small: $2,000 – $8,000
      • Boutique: $5,000 – $25,000
      • Professional: $25,000 – $75,000
  3. Marketing Site: These are called different things, sometimes Informational sites, or Brochure-style sites, but essentially these sites just market your company or cause or whatever! They can be a little trickier than blogs because often times they require implementation of ad-serving, email newsletters, videos, or image galleries. I’ve seen these sites range anywhere from $5,000 to $80k, depending on what’s involved with them.
    • Price:
      • Small: $2,000 – $10,000
      • Boutique: $10,000 – $50,000
      • Professional: $35,000 – $100,000
  4. Site/Application Build: These are a little trickier to price because they almost always involve doing some type of integration with another system. Like integrating with a booking engine or an events registration system. These builds can be complex and should be handled by top-tier talent. Be careful to go with a price that’s too low (there is such a thing!) because they should be priced accordingly – they are hard projects to work on!
    • Price:
      • Small: $8,000 – $20,000
      • Boutique: $35,000 – $120,000
      • Professional: $75,000 – $250,000
  5. Membership Portals / Member-Based Sites: These can be fun projects and if done right can come out really well. With WordPress there are some default membership properties like Editor, Author, Subscriber, etc. But a good agency can do almost anything with these and other CMS’s, like Drupal, let you customize your user roles. But because the needs of a client can vary a great deal depending on what they want their membership site experience to be like can determine how much the project will cost.
    • Price:
      • Small: $5,000 – $25,000
      • Boutique: $30,000 – $150,000
      • Professional: $75,000 – $300,000
  6. Ongoing Support: Obviously this all depends on the size/scope/scale of your digital property and what your needs are, but usually prices start at the following amounts.
    • Price:
      • Small: starting at $100 per month
      • Boutique: starting at $500 per month
      • Professional: starting at $1,000 per month

Again, this is not a complete list. There really are multiple (sometimes endless) types of sites that you could potentially do. You could also have a hybrid of sites, like a Microsite within a Membership-Based Site, oh the possibilities!!

I guess that’s what I like about the web, the possibilities, they are endless!

But I hope this sheds a little light on what types of agencies are out there, what they typically charge for web projects, and what to expect from them if you ever need their services.

So, to answer the original question, I’m not sure what the difference between a $2,500 website and a $15,000 website is. I would say there are different types of agencies that price projects out differently depending on their market size, location, and client type. But with that being said, I really hope that a $100,000 project from a professional agency comes out better than a $10,000 project from a small agency,  but I tell people it’s like buying a car – “You can get a Hyundai Accent for $15k and you could get a Lamborghini for $250k (is the Lambo better? Maybe..) but they’ll both get you from point A to point B!”

The Black Book of Web Terms

December 31, 2014
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For those of you who are in the business of talking tech, you’re probably familiar with certain web terms like SEO, Full Stack Developer, Adwords, HTML, FTP, Above the Fold, CSS, etc. I’ve put together a list of the most common terms used when talking about everything tech from computer programming to open-source platforms to blogging. I’ve tried to make them as relatable as possible so you can explain these terms to your cyberspace-challenged family at the next Thanksgiving dinner and sound super tech savvy. Terms, acronyms, phrases, and slang are all in the mix, alphabetically ordered for your convenience. If you need more clarification, fill free to reach out!

 

A:

Above the Fold – this refers to anything that can be seen on a webpage without having to scroll down. It stems from the newspapers where anything in the top fold was considered prime real estate for content and ads.

Adwords – this is the most commonly used ad service powered by Google. It allows account holders to bid on certain keywords relevant to their website and create ads which appear on SERPs. It places ad copy usually at the top or to the right of the search engine result page (SERP). If you look closely at the first two or three results on your next search, you’ll see a little yellow box that says “ad” directly to the left of the link, that is if you use Google. Bing has its own ad service, surprisingly called Bing Ads.

Ads

Adsense – this is a little different than Adwords, but connects with it. Adsense allows bloggers and other webmasters to display ads on their sites which can generate income through a CPM (Cost per impression, aka PPM) and CPC (Cost per click, aka PPC). An account holder can get paid through Adsense by taking the ads from Adwords that companies create and pay for and displaying it on their websites. I know this is a little confusing, but all you need to know is Adwords costs money, Adsense can make you money.

Analytics – services that generate statistics about a website’s traffic, patterns, and has the ability to measure conversions. These tools basically track activity on a website.

API – Application Programming Interface – it’s a way for one technology to interact with another technology. Like a Twitter API let’s developers incorporate Twitter data into a website or application, same thing with a YouTube API. This maintains a level of cohesion in the building process.

B:

Back End – refers to everything on the “back-end” of a website, basically what goes on behind the curtain. Back end functionality are the inner workings of a website or application. Also known as server-side, back end is the stuff you don’t see when you look at the webpage. (EX: Have you ever filled out a contact form online? Where does that information go and how does it get there? That’s back end!!) Back end may also refer to a person, he’s a back end developer.

Bandwidth – is a resource in use. If a website has millions of users viewing the site, it will be using a lot of bandwidth. Bandwidth can also be used to describe someone’s availability – a developer just finished their project and has some “bandwidth” to help out on different projects.

Beta – we always hear this product is currently in beta – that means it’s the first “live” phase of a website or a platform. The product is ready for use but the kinks are still being worked out and it’ll improve.

Black-Hat – used to refer to malicious hacking or aggressive SEO strategies.

Blog – if you don’t know what this is, you’ve got problems. But just so you know, blogs started as sort of an online journal and now blogs have turned into complex inbound marketing tools. The internet is like an ocean and companies use pieces of bait called content (blogs) to reel people in with.

Bounce Rate – used in analytics to represent the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from that site after viewing only one page. This is when visitors come to a website and then “bounce” off never going to another page than the one they landed on – hence bounce rate – a low bounce rate is usually good, a high bounce rate is usually bad – usually!!

Browser – this one’s easy. A browser is an application we use to surf the web. (EX: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer (do people still use that, ha!))

C:

Caching – this is when your computer stores a copy of a webpage you previously looked at so it can deliver that page to you faster the next time you view it.

CDN – Content Delivery Network – CDN’s are normally for websites that have lots and lots of images, videos, and rich media. CDN’s will store cached versions of the website on different servers at different locations around the world. This enables the site to be served up quicker when trying to view it. Depending on your location, the server closest to you will show you the website.

CMS – Content Management System – software that makes the management of a website easier for those who aren’t developers. A CMS can have a number of different users, usually called admins, that access the website through a login portal. The user interface opens into a dashboard where admins can publish, edit, and update the website’s content. Examples of CMS’s are WordPress and Drupal, both open source!

CMS View - DashBoard
This is the CMS view of the page you’re ready now!

Cookie – stored in your web browser, a cookie comes from a website you visited. When you revisit the same website, the cookie will send data back to the server to notify the website of your previous activity.

CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization – the practice of creating great experiences for a website user with the goal of converting them to paying customers.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets – this is a stylesheet for sprucing up your website pages and making things look pretty. With a .css extension and linked from an HTML (seen below) page, it is the decoration of a website.

D:

Deep Web – a part of the internet that is not indexed by regular search engines. The internet is an ocean as in 90% of its contents are below the surface. For every page a regular search engine indexes, there are many more that are not being indexed. See TOR – the software for trolling the deep web.

DNS – Domain Name System – a unique user-friendly name that identifies a website, like beingajile.com and essentially converts the number of the IP address.

DOM – Document Object Model – let me preface this by saying this will be hard to understand! There are objects in an HTML page called elements, things like <title> and <header>, the DOM is basically a representation of the document (often times in the form of a tree) and determines how objects can be manipulated.  It can be considered kind of a theory, and it’s technically an interface. Told you it would be hard to understand. Google it – I dare ya!

Domain Authority – honestly, no one really knows what this is. It’s a secretive algorithm that measures how a website will perform in search engine rankings. Moz has the info you need on Domain Authority.

Drupal – free, open source content management system used to build websites and online communities leveraging modules for functionality.

E:

Element – the components in HTML, they represent content and are wrapped in tags EX:  <p>Paragraph tag</p>, <h1>Heading with the most weight</h1>, <h6>heading with the least weight</h6>, <img src=”this shows an image” />

F:

Favicon – these are the tiny little images and icons that are displayed in the tab of a window next to the title of the actually webpage.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol – a way for files from one computer (usually a personal computer) to be transferred to another computer (usually a server) to be viewed on the internet.

Framework – in development, a framework helps by having a defined collection of tools to pull from for creating websites and web apps. Common activities (e.g. – fixed layouts, responsive markup) are put together and available for use instead of building something from scratch.

Front End – development that involves everything a user sees on a website, sometimes called client-side. Also refers to a person, she’s a front-end developer.

Full Stack Developer – a developer who knows both front-end and back-end development, these developers are extremely skilled and demand a high salary!

G:

GIF – a format file type used most times for animated images and graphics.

Git – a version control system which enables developers to work on projects simultaneously from different computers and store revisions of development history. It’s really good for holding developers accountable!

H:

Hack – there’s two meanings for this. One – is the traditional meaning where your computer gets hacked by a hacker for profit, gain, or notoriety. The Second – is when files are customized by a programmer, but not coded properly. You’ll often hear, “the core files are so hacked we’d have to start from scratch.” – this could mean that the files were hacked by a hacker, but it probably means that some developer who had access to those files changed the code to get the website or program to run the way it needed to run, but they didn’t use best practices.

High-level – this is a business term which means very basic, an overview, not specific or detailed. Your boss comes to you and says, “I’d like a high-level overview of your department’s business objectives for Q4 this year, just something simple.”

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language – one of the first languages in website building, it leverages components known as elements wrapped in tags (surrounded by angle brackets shown here – <title>My Website</title>) to render certain types of text and images in a file with the extension .html. When rendered on a webpage, the above example would only show My Website. It is the skeleton of pretty much any website and contains different types of content.

HTTP(S) – Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (Secure) – it’s basically a set of rules for transferring information over the internet between browsers and servers. HTTPS is the secure transfer over an encrypted connection.

I:

IP Address – Internet Protocol Address – this is the number associated with a web address or computer.

J:

JS – JavaScript – a scripting/programming language used to create dynamic websites. It can handle user events and movements, alter content, and make for an overall great user experience. JavaScript has become very popular these last few years.

jQuery – a JavaScript library to simplify creating animations and handling events. It’s the most widely used JavaScript library today, and it’s got a great API.

K:

Keyword – any term, phrase, or word typed into a search query in a search engine that shows results.

KPI– Key Performance Indicators – companies use KPI’s to gauge and compare performance, they usually come in the form of some type of data-driven metric like social media reach, profits, or analytics.

L:

Landing Page – a webpage built within a website for the purpose of being “landed” on, usually from email marketing or social media. A landing page is built in hopes of converting users into customers.

Link Bait – content on a website that other sites link to because they find it interesting, unique, funny, and want to link to it.

Link Building – getting other websites to link to your website in hopes of improving your own ranking in a search engine.

M:

Markup – another way to say code, HTML is a markup language. See also syntax.

Meta – often heard in line with the word data, metadata is literally data about data. It helps search engines read parts of your website to determine what type of data it is.

Microsite – this is an individual website with its own domain/subdomain and as its own entity, but often times associated with another larger website. A microsite is usually used to showcase some type of event or new product.

Mockup – a design that shows a user what a website will look like without having to build any of the functionality.

MVP – Minimum Viable Product – for a website, the MVP has just those core features that allow the site to be deployed live. It’s the absolute bare minimum a website can be and still be used.

N:

NAP Consistency – Name, Address, Phone Number – a company’s NAP should be the same across all different local listings and other listings. This will help with local SEO.

O:

OOP – Object Oriented Programming – is a fundamental of computer programming that centers around objects and the methods or functions that control them.

OS – Operating System – are you using a Mac, Windows, or Linux OS? The iPhone’s operating system is iOS, go figure!

P:

Panda – this was an update to Google’s algorithm that aimed at lowering the rank of low-quality sites aka “thin sites”, and return higher quality sites at the top of the SERP.

Penguin – this was another update to the Google algorithm that aimed at decreasing search engine rankings for those sites that were still practicing Black-Hat SEO tactics.

PHP – PHP Hypertext Preprocessor – what?!? yes that first P stands for PHP, it makes no sense, I guess HP was taken! This is a programming language that is normally used with a database like MySQL to build dynamic websites and web applications. Over 80% of the web is written in PHP.

Pogo-sticking – users who search for a keyword and click on the first result they see. Then they don’t find what they want and hit the back button to the results page and click on the second result they see. Then they don’t find what they want again, and this can go on and on, hence the pogo-stick.

Post – an article in a blog.

Q:

QA – Quality Assurance – the act of making sure something works properly. In development, massive regression testing, unit testing, browser testing, and cross-platform testing is usually done.

Query – any question, whether that’s searching in a search box or querying a database to get back info from that database, a query is simply a question.

R:

RFP – Request for Proposal – this is a business term, but it’s when companies contact a web agency in hopes of finding a solution to their web challenge. If a company wants to build a website or do a redesign, they’ll put together an RFP (which basically describes what they’re using now and what they’d like to change about it – high level stuff) and send it to a web firm to get a proposal.

Rich Media – this can be different things, a few examples are images, videos, and animations that usually involve some type of user interaction. Or it can be an image, video, or interactive advertisement.

River – on a blog, it’s the main section of blog posts, not the sidebar.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication, actually it’s Rich Site Summary – RSS feeds allow a webmaster to syndicate someone’s content from a blog or news source to their own site and link back to that blog or news source, the feed will automatically update with any new posts.

S:

Scope Creep – adding incrementally to a project plan or statement of work (SOW), and realizing that the project plan has gotten way too big! The creep refers to adding small things (features, functionality, etc.) to a project and then realizing that the scope (what the project entails) is way over budget or the timeline’s too short.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – for lack of sounding obvious, this means optimizing a website for the search engine. It’s an organic (meaning free) process of affecting a website’s visibility in SERPs. The strategy for this is extensive and constantly changing, you can check out some of my previous posts on SEO and Search Engines to get a basic look.

SEM – Search Engine Marketing – increasing the visibility of your website through paid advertisements.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page – it’s the page that has all the results on it after you enter a search query and hit enter.

Server – simply put, a server is a computer, but it’s a big one that houses a bunch of different websites.

Sitemap – this is a list of all pages within a website that can be crawled by spiders or by users, normally showing the taxonomy of a website.

Spamdexing – slang term for the use of Black-Hat SEO strategies like invisible text (hiding text between the markup and rendering it invisible), keyword stuffing (stuffing a webpage full of the same keyword), and doorway pages (landing on a page and then suddenly being redirected to another page) for the purposes of high visibility in search engine rankings. This is a very bad thing to do and it’s like committing SEO suicide.

Spider – a program designed to crawl (read) web pages.

SOW – statement of work – a document that tells the client what you plan on doing for their project.

Syntax – properly structured code.

T:

Table – a slang term for putting something on hold. EX: “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, so why don’t we table this month’s content strategy and circle back at a later date.” I hate this term!!

Taxonomy – this is the procedure of organizing and categorizing the different web pages on a website. A website’s hierarchy.

TOR – The Onion Router – this is a free software for online anonymity. It let’s users surf the web much like Google or Bing does, but with no threat of placing cookies on your computer or tracking your movements. TOR is often used to surf the Deep Web.

U:

UI/UX – User Interface / User Experience – UI is what we use when we’re doing some type of action online (e.g. – viewing a website, purchasing an online product). UX is the feeling we get from doing those actions.

URL – Uniform Resource Locater – URL’s are a website’s unique address so that it can be found online.

Usability – criteria that assesses how easy a user interface is to use including learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction. The Nielsen Norman Group has a great post on this topic – Usability 101

User-friendly – this just means that something is easy for us humans to understand! EX: beingajile.com/blog is much easier for us to understand than beingajile.com/wp/13286-aXeS3.3428.php

V:

Virus – much like a cold virus or the flu, a computer virus is a malicious program that likes to harm and reproduce in other hosts (computers).

W:

Webmaster – any person who develops or controls a website.

Widget – a small piece of functionality in WordPress usually found in the sidebar or footer areas.

Wireframe – this is kind of like a blueprint for a website, often done with boxes, it represents a visual framework.

WordPress – an open source content management system designed for developers and non-developers. It has a vast community of developers/non-developers who regularly contribute to making it the best blogging platform out there. It utilizes plugins which are pieces of functionality that help the end user accomplish something (e.g. – embed a twitter feed). This is such an immense platform that the codex has got all the documentation you need to get started.

X:

XML – Extensible Markup Language – defines a set of rules for encoding documents in both human-readable and machine-readable format, it’s also designed to carry and store data.

Y:

 

Z:

 

I couldn’t find anything for Y and Z, but I’m sure this will be a constantly updated list. I literally keep a black book of web terms right next to my computer so that when I hear someone say a term I’m not familiar with, I write it down. Please feel free to reach out if you have any input or want to know something more about a certain term. Hope this was helpful.