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15 simple development terms every client needs to know

Learn the language of development so you can better understand and provide development feedback

Have you ever worked with a developer and felt like they were speaking a totally different language? Were you ever embarrassed to ask them what they meant? Did a project ever fail because you weren’t talking about the same thing? Every industry has it’s own vocabulary. Before you invest thousands of dollars into a developer, you should familiarize yourself with their language. Here are 15 practical definitions that will help you make the most of your next project.

  1. Front-End Development – The creation of what you see and interact with on a website or app. This is typically HTML, CSS, and Javascript. An example would be the code written to change the background color of the website.
  2. Back-End Development – The creation of everything that happens “behind the scenes”. It’s usually much more complex and responsible for the management and function of the website or app. An example would be the code written to submit form data to a database.
  3. Browser – The program or application used to “browse” the internet. The most common web browsers include Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer Microsoft Edge. Browsers are able to interpret the HTML, CSS, and Javascript and display it on your screen in the form of a website.
  4. HTML – The coded structure of a web page. It stands for Hypertext Markup Language.
  5. CSS – The code used to define the look and feel of a website. An acronym for Cascading Style Sheet. The browser is able to interpret these styles and display them
  6. Javascript (JS) – The code used to define the behavior and interactions on a website.
  7. Domain Name – A domain name is the website’s address. It most commonly refers to everything before the .com, .net, .edu, .gov, etc.
  8. Hosting – Hosting is a term that describes the place where the files that run your website reside. Hosting is necessary to run all publicly accessible websites.
  9. Server –  A server is a high-performance computer where files are stored. 
  10. FTP – Short for “File Transfer Protocol”. This is the method by which files are transferred from a local (personal) computer to the server. You may be asked to provide FTP login information so your developer can upload files to your website’s server.
  11. ISP – Internet Service Provider. This is the company that provides the digital signal you use to access the internet. Examples include Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, or AT&T.
  12. Staging – A private website used to test something prior to public release. You may hear the phrase in the context of “staging server” or “staging website”.
  13. Plugin – A plugin is a component created by someone else that you can buy or use as an alternative to creating it yourself.
  14. Agile – A development workflow in which the requirements and solutions evolve over time. This iterative process aims for early delivery and continuous improvement.
  15. Sprint – A short, highly-focused 1-3 week effort to deliver a defined solution.
About Matt Olpinski
Matt is the President of Matthew’s Design Co. and teachers thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog and newsletter.