Accessibility

Web accessibility is the availability of web content to various audiences and devices. Users who rely on screen readers or other assistive devices cannot access some content, such as improperly implemented Flash and image-based sites. Many mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads cannot render Flash content, and you will likely miss out on their business unless you improve accessibility. Accessibility is also a component of good SEO, and is crucial for your website to be effectively indexed and ranked by search engines like Google.

Further reading: A List Apart: What is Web Accessibility?

Actionscript

The programming language behind Flash.

Analytics

Web analytics allow you to track information about how visitors are using your website. This is important for understanding what content people are responding to, tracking the success of campaigns/promotions, and learning about your user base. We install Google Analytics for all of our websites. You can sign in and track your web analytics here.

API

An application programming interface is one way for your website to integrate with 3rd party services, such as Google Maps or Facebook. It's usually a piece of code that can be installed on a web page.

Best Practices

Web design best practices take into consideration accessibility, user experience, SEO, and code that complies with W3C standards. These practices tend to favor open standards like HTML 5 and CSS 3 over proprietary technologies like Flash, Silverlight, and branded media formats.

Browser Compatibility

All web browsers render web pages slightly differently. For example, some browsers support newer technologies like HTML 5 to varying degrees. In some cases these differences can cause layout and style problems. We provide support for all current major browsers.

CMS

Content Management Systems allow easy editing and organization of content, usually without the need for hand coding. CMS are dynamic web applications that store your content in a database, and then call the data to be displayed on any relevant page. Wordpress, WikiMedia, Drupal, and many popular blog platforms are examples of CMS. These are useful for websites that need frequent content updates and administration by non-developers. The downside of using a CMS to manage your site is that you sacrifice some control over features and design since you are using a prepackaged system, though it is possible for a developer to customize a CMS to your exact needs. Contact us for a consultation regarding your specific CMS requirements.

CSS 3

Cascading Style Sheets, is a W3C-approved language which defines style, layout, and design attributes for web content. The great benefit of CSS is the ability to define and change all of the visual elements of a website from a single document. This makes site-wide updates manageable and efficient. CSS version 3 adds support for new design attributes and more advanced functionality. Combined with HTML5 and Javascript, CSS 3 provides interactive capabilities which can replace older technologies like Flash and Actionscript, with greater accessibility and mobile support. Here's what our CSS looks like for this website.

Here's the CSS describing the most basic attributes of this page:

#page {
width:800px;
margin-left:auto;
margin-right:auto;
padding-left:48px;
padding-right:48px;
background-color:#FFF;
}

Further reading: A List Apart: Topics / CSS.

Dynamic Web Application

A dynamic web application is an interactive website that calls relevant content from a database and displays it based on user requests or other criteria. Any website with a login or user-specific content is dynamic. We use PHP and MySQL programming for most of our dynamic websites.

Flash

Flash is a robust media player developed by Adobe that is used to display rich, interactive content such as games, animations, and video. Some entire websites are built using Flash. Unfortunately flash requires a proprietary third-party browser plugin to work, and is not supported by some major mobile devices like iPads and iPhones. It is also a problem for search engines, web analytics, and screen readers, which usually can't parse content embedded in Flash. This makes Flash a big problem for accessibility. We avoid using Flash whenever possible, and use HTML 5, javascript, and CSS to replace traditional Flash content.

Futureproof Design

Websites built using best practices, cross-browser compatibility, mobile support, and accessibility will last longer, reach more users, update effectively, and can evolve without the need for costly redesign. We like to call this futureproof design.

HTML 5

HTML5 is the latest version of HTML defined by the W3C. HTML is the common language of the web. It is a simple language that tells your browser what content to display. HTML 5 adds support for embedding video, organizing and tagging content, and new interactive features like the canvas element which can pair with CSS and javascript to deliver rich content natively. Here's a sample of our own HTML navigation code:

<ul id="nav">
<li id="navwelcome"><a href="index.php">Welcome<span id="navwelcome"></span></a></li>
<li id="navservices"><a href="services.php">Services<span></span></a></li>
<li id="navquote"><a href="quote.php">Get a Quote<span></span></a></li>
<li id="navclients"><a href="clients.php">Clients<span></span></a></li>
<li id="navnuts"><a href="nutsandbolts.php">Nuts &amp; Bolts<span></span></a></li>
<li id="navabout"><a href="about.php">About<span></span></a></li>
<li id="navcontact"><a href="contact.php">Contact<span></span></a></li>
</ul>

Further reading: W3C / HTML & CSS.

Javascript

Javascript is the most common programming language on the web. It adds more advanced, interactive features to your HTML and CSS. Unlike server-side languages like PHP, javascript runs in your browser, and is often included as a .js file from the head of the HTML. Sample:

timeline: [
{ id: "eid14", tween: [ "color", "#smallbusinesssites", "color", 'rgba(255,255,255,1.00)', { animationColorSpace: 'RGB', valueTemplate: undefined, fromValue: 'rgba(255,255,255,1.00)'}], position: 2750, duration: 0, easing: "linear" },

Further reading: A List Apart / Scripting

Mobile Web

As smartphones and tablets have become more common and more connected, the web has had to adapt for their size and capabilities to reach mobile users and remain useful. There are several ways to do this. The most basic approach is to build accessible, responsive websites that can be used on any device. We follow this approach even for sites without a specific mobile user base. A more involved approach is to design a lightweight version of the website which is designed specifically for a smaller format, with simplified navigation and features. This is the best approach for high-traffic websites, and sites with a large mobile user base. For websites which have interactive or social utilities, it might make sense to develop a mobile app which users can download or buy. This option involves developing a standalone application for a specific device, most commonly Apple iOS.

Further reading: W3C / Mobile Web

Meta Tag

Meta tags are HTML elements which identify specific information about your website to search engines, browsers, and other services like Facebook Open Graph. They provide information such as your website keywords and basic description of the page. Here's the keyword meta tag for this website as an example:

<meta name="keywords" content="Design Monarch, web design, small business websites, San Francisco web design, social media, SEO, html5, web marketing" />

We include meta tags in all of our websites as part of our SEO and best practices.

MySQL

MySQL is a common database language used for the web. We use MySQL with PHP for our dynamic web applications.

Open Graph (Facebook)

Facebook's Open Graph Protocol allows users to interact with your website as if it were a Facebook page. When a user "likes" your page, Facebook will understand where they are on your website, and make the connection to their profile automatically. Example:

<meta property="og:title" content="Design Monarch"/>
<meta property="og:type" content="Company"/>
<meta property="og:image" content="/assets/design_monarch_logo.png"/>

Further reading: Facebook / Open Graph Protocol.

PHP

PHP is a common server-side programming language which interfaces with HTML to deliver dynamic content on the page. Unlike javascipt, PHP is executed on the web server, not the browser itself. This means you won't see the action PHP in your page code, just the content which it sends to the browser. We use PHP to build our dynamic applications. Example:

//requests from form
$name = $_REQUEST['name'] ;
$email = $_REQUEST['email'] ;
$message = $_REQUEST['message'] ;

Responsive WEB Design

Responsive design allows content and layout to scale and conform to the user. This is important in making your website accessible to mobile users while still optimizing for normal displays. This can be accomplished with some clever CSS work

Further reading: Inspiration Feed / Responsive Web Design.

SEM

Search Engine Marketing is an active approach to generating traffic to your website. Google Adwords is the most popular of these. It allows you to run PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns which advertise your URL in Google search results and on relevant 3rd party websites, at Google's discretion. In this model, you pay a small fee to Google for every click your add gets. This is a competitive approach with some risk. We implement SEO best practices for "organic" search engine ranking in all our websites.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization means developing your website to attain the highest possible search engine ranking, primarily with Google. This involves proper use of meta tags, accessibility, keyword optimization, sitemap, robots.txt, and other best practices. After all of these factors have been implemeted properly, we believe that content is the most implortant factor for search engine ranking. SEO alone will not guarantee you a high search engine ranking or visitor traffic. Contact us for a SEO consultation.

Social Media

Social Media is a broad term for any web application that allows user interaction and content sharing. Social media is a valuable resource for marketing for two main reasons; It provides a personalized recommendation engine for reaching out and interacting with potential customers, and also allows the public to connect with you using their real identity vesus browsing your website anonymously. We intagrate social media into our website using Facebook Open Graph Protocol.

Sitemap

A sitemap is a simple hierarchical map of your website, including all subpages and internal links. Sitemaps are used to help search engines find all your pages, and users who want to see your entire navigation tree at a glance. You can find our sitemap here.

W3C

The World Wide Web Consortium is an intenational organization which defines web programming standards. These standards act as guidelines for browsers, designers, and developers. We use W3C standards in our websites to ensure accessibility, browser compatibility, and to maintain best design practices.

Further reading: W3C / Standards.

Did we miss something? Let us know if you have a question or run into more web jargon, and we'll add it to the list.

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