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1. CMS – Content Management System

In simple terms content management software does exactly what it says – helps you manage the content of your website.  It allows the website owner – regardless of web knowledge – to upload, edit and manage the words, pictures and layouts on a website.  There is no need to learn coding or web design – an intuitive Content Management System is sufficient for most small businesses to keep their website up to date.

By separating the content from the design, this backend tool enables less technical individuals to manage content on a website easily. An individual can change the wording of an article without affecting the beautiful design; upload new images and even create new pages which look like the existing pages.  By managing their own content a website owner prolongs the lifespan of a website and keeps costs down.

The main feature of most CMS systems which makes them appeal to laymen is the WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get – display. It allows you to add, edit text and images by translating the code needed for the web. You see a normal text editor – but behind the scenes you are building the code needed. It is this ‘translation’ which makes a CMS so easy for us non-web coders to use.

Core functions of a CMS

There are many Content Management systems on the market, but all of them  serve the same basic functions.

(1)  Indexing, search and retrieval

By arranging the content of your website in a database index, a CMS system allows you very easily search through your content and retrieve it quickly. You can sort your content by keyword, date of publication or author – all very useful when you are re-purposing the same content across your site.

(2)  Revision control

Once you’ve written some content or uploaded an image, a Content Management System keeps track of the changes.  Each version is dated and displays the author making the change.  This feature is particularly useful when a company has multiple editors working on the same website – perhaps n different geographical locations.  It is simple to see at-a-glace when your website was last updated and by whom.

(3)  Publishing.

The publishing element of a CMS allows you to use a template or a set of templates approved by the organization, as well as wizards and other tools to create or modify content. So once your design has been put in place you can work within it to adapt or add words – without spoiling how the website looks for the user.

2. CSS—Cascading Style Sheets

Style sheets are directives for browsers to display web pages exactly how the designer would like to display them. They allow for very specific control over the look and feel of a web page; keeping the design consistent across the website.

Style sheets are the technical specifications for a layout, whether print or online. Web designers use style sheets to insure that their designs are printed exactly to specifications. A style sheet for a Web page serves the same purpose, but with the added functionality of also telling the viewing engine (the Web browser) how to render the document being viewed.

The word cascade is used to depict how a series of style sheets ‘ripple’ through the site. It tells the browser exactly how to display the words, images and layouts.  For example,

  • Heading One (H1) Times New Roman, size 16, bold
  • Heading Two (H2) same as H1 but size 14 (ie the Times New Roman font and bold have ‘cascaded’ down.)

The browser will interpret the CSS in order, allowing the lowest level command to take precedence.

CSS is primarily used to style web pages. But it is also used to define how web pages should look when viewed in other media than a web browser. For example, you can create a print style sheet that will define how the web page should print out and another style sheet to display the web page on a projector for a slide show.

Why do good designers use CSS?

  • They set the mood of your website and are at the heart of every good design
  • Your website will be consistent and professional looking
  • Style sheets can be updated centrally for a global change to your site – compare that to changing every piece of text!

Switching websites is easy, a fresh new look is quick too

3. HTML – HyperText Markup Language

This ‘Language’ was originally developed in 1990 to format websites, create links and perform other basic web tasks. HTML allows browsers to read – and so render – web pages based on the instructions it contains. Hypertext introduced the idea that content can ‘interact’ with the reader.  ‘Links’ allow a reader to jump between pages and more importantly are very easy to change.

HTML starts life as a text file, which is readable by humans thanks to the use of ‘tags’.  It is these ‘tags’ that allow a browser to interpret the instructions and render them on screen.

Some common HTML tags:

  • <p> for paragraphs
  • <a> for links
  • <div> for dividing up sections of a page

4. URL – Uniform Resource Locator

A URL is basically a website address – it tells a computer where to go to access the content it has been instructed to display. Every web page has a unique URL. And the best ones describe – in human readable format – what the page contains. In very general terms there are four elements to a URL.

protocol | server name | domain name | path

protocol (http://)
The protocol identifies the method by which the resource is transmitted. All Web pages use HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Thus, all web URL’s begin with this. Often there is an added s, ‘https’ in simple terms this means communication with the website is encrypted. HTTPS is more relevant for e-commerce websites which send and receive credit card information.

server name (www.colourcreation)
The server name identifies the computer on which the resource is found. Ideally this is your company name or the name of the product you sell.  They are leased from a host provider who provides you wth the space for the content of your site, security and email facilities. These are collectively called the DNS or domain name system.

domain name (.co.uk)
The server name always ends with a dot and a three-letter or two-letter extension called the domain name. The domain is important because it usually identifies the type of organization that created or sponsored the resource. Sometimes it indicates the country where the server is located. Some common domain names are:

* .com which identifies company or commercial sites
* .org for non-profit organization sites
* .gov for government sites
If the domain name is two letters, it identifies a country, e.g. .uk for the United Kingdom.

Path (/blog)
The path typically refers to a file or directory on the web server, Sometimes the file name will be specified eg a particular file or as in our case a page on a website with an index. http://www.colourcreation.co.uk/journal/

5. IP – Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol (IP) is the method by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet. Each computer on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet.

When you send or receive data (for example, an e-mail note or a Web page), the message gets divided into little chunks called packets. Each of these packets contains both the sender’s Internet address and the receiver’s address. Any packet is sent first to a gateway computer. The gateway computer reads the destination address and forwards the packet to an adjacent gateway that in turn reads the destination address and so forth across the Internet until one gateway recognizes the packet as belonging to a computer within its immediate neighbourhood or domain. That gateway then forwards the packet directly to the computer whose address is specified.

Because a message is divided into a number of packets, each packet can, if necessary, be sent by a different route across the Internet. Packets can arrive in a different order than the order they were sent in. The Internet Protocol just delivers them. It’s up to another protocol, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to put them back in the right order.