Bluffer’s guide to web technical terms part III: web CMSs and digital project management


At mark-making* we are aware that sometimes the industry jargon gets the better of us. However, we also know that hiding in amongst the jargon are some genuinely useful technical terms.

So, for your information, we have compiled a series of web glossary blog posts, a bluffer’s guide, if you will. (In case you missed them, here are parts I and II). Starting at the server end of things and working forwards towards the bits of a website that the user actually sees, our developers have picked out and explained some terms that might come up in meetings, or get dropped into emails.

Part III is made up of terms to do with content management, and other characteristic elements of digital projects.

First up, content management…


CMS is short for content management system. The user-interface of a web CMS (the bit where the user logs in, edits and uploads content) is generally simple and easy to navigate. Data is pulled from a repository and presented in pages based on templates.


Editing a website without a CMS involves keeping track of HTML pages that have to be stored, linked together and uploaded to the server. This is fine if the website is to be managed and updated only by a developer. If not, a CMS is the way to go!


WordPress was created originally as blogging platform, though over time the benefit of using WordPress as a CMS turned it into a standard. WordPress can be used in two ways:

  1. Hassle-free setup without the need to acquire a domain name, hosting and a database, this is setup through
  2. Download WordPress as a package to install onto the server manually. With this approach you need to have acquired your own domain name, hosting and a database. Due to the complexity of these tasks, they are usually performed by the web developer.


Joomla is another open source web CMS. It is customised with extensions, and the visual variety of which are called templates. Joomla is not quite as easy to use as WordPress, but it can be applied to more complex functionality.


Established in 2001, Drupal is the oldest open source CMS. It started life as a message board, which quickly gained contributors and was made open source by its creators. Complex things can be achieved with Drupal, but it is not so easily used as WordPress or Joomla.


A database is an online location for storing data, required by a CMS.


This is a relation database engine commonly used to store website data. For example, WordPress uses MySQL. In a way, it is an online equivalent of Microsoft Access. When a user accesses a piece of content, say an article, the CMS ‘queries’ the database where all the content is stored. The article is found in the database, and pulled forward into the CMS, onto the user’s screen. It’s just like asking at the librarian’s desk (the CMS) for someone to go into the archives (MySQL) and get a book (some content) for you to read.

The look and feel of a website…


Flat design

Flat design is recent trend in web design, removing web 2.0 effects such as gloss and blox shadows that mimick real-world features. Most notably, skeuomorphic features – like buttons that appear to depress when clicked – are removed. Properly applied, it can make the user experience more intuitive and make visuals easier on the eye, for example with the use of 2-dimensional buttons and icons.


UX is short for user experience. It refers to the feelings experienced during the use of a website (or anything else, for that matter). It encompasses all elements of using a website, from the order in which instructions are displayed to the kind of language used in error messages. The better and more intuitive the experience, the more likely a user will want to continue browsing your site.


UI stands for user interface, and refers to the visual part of a website. The visual part contains elements that help a user to interact with it, for example, form fields, buttons, and menus. The UX is contributed to and hopefully improved by tinkering with the UI.


Stay with us: working methods and systems…


A very basic structure to show which elements and functions will appear where in a site under development, but as yet devoid of any aesthetic additions.


A front-end framework can be used to perform the initial scaffolding of a project. A framework contains an array of prebuilt styles and functions that are re-usable throughout the project.

Git & Subversion

These are versioning languages. A group of developers can work on the same set of project files at the same time without breaking or deleting each other’s changes. They can also look back through previous versions. The version-controlled files are stored in a repository. This technology allows for rapid yet controlled versioning development of web projects.


This is the traditional path that a project follows, typically featuring a lot of planning documents. New stages are only started when previous stages have been signed off. This method works well from a coordination point of view, but web sometimes benefits from a process that makes more allowances for changes in project scope as a site is developed.


With agile, a website’s development would be delivered in increments, one completely finished feature at a time. The idea behind it is to foster a more collaborative approach with clients. The original background for Agile is application development. For brochure-style websites, for example, Agile might not be so effective.

That’s it!

So there you have it, the last instalment of your bluffer’s guide to web terms from mark-making*. Why not have a look at our web design portfolio to see some of what you’ve learned in action?

If you have any more questions, do leave us a comment: we love talking shop.

About markmaking*

mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications