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Web Design References

Web Design Glossary

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Samples Per Inch (SPI)
Samples Per Inch indicates the number of data points per inch that a scanner captures (i.e. input). As opposed to Dots Per Inch, Pixels Per Inch, or Lines Per Inch - all of which refer to output. Although most scanner manufacturers refer to Dots Per Inch, they really should refer to Samples Per Inch. Scanners use Charged Couple Devices (CCDs) to capture information, and they do this by taking a fixed number of samples per inch. The thing to watch out for in scanners is optical resolution vs interpolated resolution. If a flatbed scanner is making claims of higher than 600 DPI, you can be pretty sure that they're referring to interpolation. Interpolation increases the resolution by software. The highest resolution a scanner can capture without interpolation is the optical resolution.
Sans Serif
Sans serif is a style of typeface without the short lines stemming from the upper and lower ends of letters that are present in serif typefaces. Sans serif fonts are usually the best fonts to use for ease of on-screen reading. Verdana was actually created specifically for this purpose.
Saturation
Saturation describes the purity or intensity of a color. Pink and red differ in saturation with the red being the more saturated.
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)
Scalable Vector Graphics is a language for vector graphics coded in XML. XML documents can have these graphics placed directly into the document, with many advantages. SVG produces graphics that are smaller, transmit more quickly, and are scalable without loss of resolution, can have searchable text labels, and allow links to part of an image. It is being developed by the W3C.
Scanning
In usability, scanning is the process of skimming text and picking out keywords, sentences and paragraphs while skipping over other parts of a web page. People tend to scan web pages rather than read them word-by-word. Use headlines, bullets, lists and frequent paragraph breaks for items you wish to highlight. These elements will grab a user's attention during a quick scan.
Scope
Scope conformance claims (in WCAG 2.0) can limit accessible content to some parts or sections of a web site. A site can state that only certain sections are compliant. In other words, all of the other sections are non-compliant. For more information consult About Baselines and WCAG 2.0.
Scope Creep
Scope creep is the expansion of a project beyond its original objectives. It is a term used when clients who don't realize the ramifications, make individual changes and teeny modifications to projects, which can lead to budgetary increases and time delays.
Screen Magnifier
A screen magnifier is a software program that magnifies a portion of the screen, so that it can be more easily viewed. Primarily individuals with low vision use screen magnifiers.
Screen Reader
A screen reader is a software program that reads the contents of the screen aloud to a user.
Screen Snapshots
Screen Snapshots are a method where the user takes screen snapshots at different times during the execution of a task or series of tasks. Like most user testing, you provide the user with the site and have him or her perform various user tasks. In addition, you provide the user with a snapshot program and instructions for when and how to take the screen snapshots. This technique is best used in the early to middle stages of development, when you have some working site to be evaluated but are not to the point of requiring full testing. Snapshots are most often used in conjunction with other remote inquiry methods, such as journaled sessions or self-reporting logs.
Section 508
Section 508 is an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The U.S. law applies to all Web sites operated by government agencies. It requires Web pages to comply with accessibility standards. Under the new law, Web sites are required to structure their design, content and underlying technologies to be accessible to people with disabilities. For more information consult 508.
Selector
In CSS selectors are the parts of a rule that select the elements to be styled with the associated declaration block. They are constructs that identify the elements within your markup that will receive the properties and values you assign. Selectors can apply to a named HTML element, such as <h3> or <p>, an HTML element with a named attribute value, particularly a class or id value. A simple selector is one which, matches an element name only.
Self-Reporting Logs
Self-reporting logs are paper-and-pencil journals in which users are requested to log their actions and observations while interacting with a product. Like journaled sessions, this technique allows user evaluation to be perform at a distance.
Semantics
In document markup, semantics relate to meaning. Semantic elements and attributes provide a higher level of communication. Lay people looking only at how a page displays may never get that additional communication, but machines can. Providing that extra meaning allows machines to translate it for people.
Serif
Serif is a typeface, in which each character has small strokes at the ends of the lines that form it. Serifs are found in type styles such as Times Roman, Palatino, Garamond, and Baskerville. Serif fonts work best on paper because the serifs on the letters help tie all the letters in a word together and create the recognizable word entities (as opposed to a group of individual letters) that we use when we are reading. Sans-serif fonts don't have this legibility aid. So why then don't we use serif fonts on-screen? The answer lies in resolution. Pages will be printed, at the barest minimum of 150 dpi, and more likely 300 dpi on a laser printer. Screens historically have not had the resolution to recreate the subtlety of serif fonts. Instead, the approximation it has been is somewhat messy and more difficult to read. This is beginning to change with the advent of retina displays.
Skip navigation is a method that allows users to skip repetitive navigation links. This aids people who use screen readers or other types of assistive technologies so they do not have to wait for the assistive technology to work through and announce each of the standard navigational links before getting to the intended content. For more information consult Skip Links.
Specificity
At its essence, specificity is the mechanism by which the rest of CSS works. It is used to determine which selectors are more specific than others, and ultimately which rules will apply to a given element. This basically has to do with the number of elements and attributes in a rule's selector.
Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML)
SGML is a standard for how to specify a document markup language. It is a meta language because it is used to define markup languages. SGML is not in itself a document language, but a description of how to specify one. It is based on the idea that documents have structural and other semantic elements that can be described without reference to how such elements should be displayed. The actual display of such a document may vary, depending on the output medium and style preferences.
Standards
Consult Web Standards.
Standards Inspection
Standards inspections ensure compliance with industry standards. In such an inspection a professional with extensive knowledge of the standard analyzes the elements of the product for their use of the industry standard (compliance with University Standards, W3C specifications, etc).
Standards Mode
A HTML 4 DOCTYPE that includes a full URI (a complete web address) tells these browsers to render your page in standards-compliant mode, treating your HTML, CSS, and DOM expected.
Statement (Rule)
In CSS a statement or sometimes called a rule consists of a selector, property and value. The term applies to whatever form the selector takes and however many declaration pairs are present. A style sheet is comprised of statements. A statement has two parts, a selector, and a declaration. The selector specifies which parts of an HTML document are affected by the statement, then the declaration specifies how these selected elements should be rendered.
Storyboard
A Storyboard is a sequence of sketches showing major actions or outlining a process, such as the steps of interacting with a computer or website. They are commonly used in television and advertising. They are akin to paper prototyping. They are useful for checking that the steps of a process make sense and for presentations.
String Text
String text is a sequence of characters.
Structure
HTML and XHTML are structural markup languages, designed for modeling the structure of information, not its appearance. Structure is the information components within an HTML document. For instance: headings, lists and paragraphs. Using heading levels appropriately will ensure documents are more accessible.
style Attribute
The style attribute sets inline style for a single occurrence of an element. The browser uses the style properties to render the contents of just this one instance of the element.
style Element
The style element sets style information for an entire document. It goes in the head section.
Style Sheets - Consult Cascading Style Sheets and Extensible Stylesheet Language.
Survey
Surveys are ad hoc interviews with users, where a set list of questions is asked and the users' responses recorded. Surveys differ from questionnaires in that they are interactive interviews, although not structured like contextual inquiries nor formally scheduled and organized like focus group.
Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL)
A markup language by the W3C that allows Web developers to separate the content of multimedia into distinct files and transmission streams such as, text, images, audio, and video. They can then be sent to the users' computer separately, and then reassembled and displayed as intended. For more information consult SMIL.