Being a nerd is generally considered chic these days – shows like The Big Bang Theory and the revamping of Sherlock, Dr Who and pretty much every Marvel film has only added to the trend.
So much so that hipsters even strive to look more like nerds: you know the ones, geeky t-shirt slogans, cable knit wear and huge lens-free glasses that would have made the back of their head the perfect tip-ex target back in the early noughties.
The term has completely changed – I was considered a ‘geek’ in school. Not because I had any interest in comics or was any kind of cute gamer-girl – far from it. I was the pale, shy, always last in cross-country (even with my inhaler) type geek and I’m glad these terms have now been turned into something more positive.
It’s now become so much less generalised – going from a derogatory term describing someone who was considered completely un-cool to a hipster style trend, the words nerd, or geek have developed once again and are now mainly used as compound nouns to describe someone who has a lot of knowledge on a specialist subject.
For example, people will now use the terms to describe their passion for a particular interest, for example, a GoT-nerd, or a film-geek or even (as I saw on Twitter the other day) a makeup-nerd.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being bitter or cynical that I’ve never quite managed to make it to the ‘cool’ list of nerds (*twitch twitch*) and I even take my hat off to the new breed of nerds: anyone who has a specialist subject that they’re really passionate about is a winner with me. However, some are guilty of letting it go to their heads too…
For example, a particular problem with developers (or code-dweebs, as they’re now called) is that they have trouble explaining exactly what they’re doing without throwing out nerd knowledge at 100Mb per second and completely baffling people in the process.
It’s not really fair when it comes to clients or end users who just want to have their dream website to function how they always imagined. But luckily for me, I have an army of coding nerd-lingers who haven’t (just yet) let their specialist knowledge go to their heads.
This week, they’ve given me the top five development terms that clients tend to come unstuck with in order for me to nicely de-code for the layman and help you understand a bit more about what a developer is dealing with when it comes to updating your site.
De-Coding Developer Jargon for the Web Client
Once I’d settled nicely into the working world of IT, I quickly (when I’d stopped giggling) became accustomed to talking about the ‘frontend’ and the ‘backend’. If you’re having your first website build, you will hear these terms in the very first discussion, I can almost guarantee.
The backend, understandably is then everything that goes on server-side: the ‘behind the scenes’ programming that controls the way in which a site functions using programming languages like PHP, MySQL, ASP, C, C# etc. Some clients will call this the ‘back office’, but it means exactly the same thing.
So, if you are doing frontend development using a content management system, the backend development would be the code that built that CMS system you’re using.
You will also hear a lot of web designers or developers use the term ‘responsive’. Responsive design or development is, in the simplest terms, a site that is bang up to date. So, for example, you want your website to look good – right? But you also want that same look to carry across to mobile and tablet devices. Therefore the site needs to have a clever use of CSS queries and flexible layouts in order to respond to the user’s behaviour and environment.
You may hear this term a lot if a developer is talking about updating your site from old, depreciated coding to a newly developed site that has the technology to better respond to the demands of a complete gadget-nerd.
This one is a special request due to a lot of confusion and people getting their nerd-lingo wrong! When it comes to web development, a database is exactly the same as it is outside of web development. A lot of people will get confused and refer to the backend as the ‘database’. It’s not code, or script or anything – so if you hear a developer talking about a database, it’s nothing more than an online spreadsheet.
You will have seen AJAX at work whether you know it or not. Remember the days before you and Google were so close that you finished each other’s sentences? Well that was before the magic of AJAX – a group of interrelated techniques that allows activity on the screen after the page has loaded.
You might hear this term if you have a very product-heavy e-commerce site complete with a search function – with AJAX coding, your results would filter as you typed making your search function much more usable than if you had to type, press search and the page had to refresh with the results.
DNS or Domain Name Servers will be another term you hear from the get-go. The DNS is just a registry of domain names held on a server farm, but when you are having your site moved, these are updated which is why it can sometimes take so long. So I have to empathise with my home-nerds here and say that if you think a developer might be taking the cake while you’re waiting for your site to be moved, it could be down to the DNS updates – so please take this into consideration.
Talky nerdy isn’t that difficult – most of the ideas behind the jargon are fairly simple so don’t let the tech-talk phase you. Whatever your field of nerd-expertise might be, hopefully I’ve given you some of the key phrases in a developer’s geek-tionary to make that next meeting a little simpler for the both of you.