Krishna Solanki Designs


A Guide for Non-Designers on Terms Used in the Design Industry

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So, you are making some changes to your business and have decided you want to up your design game. Maybe you want to revamp your brand or get your first website for your startup or small business off the ground.
You have found the right designer, and they are a perfect fit. The only problem is they are so good at their job that they sometimes forget you are not as "techy" as them. 
Are they using design terms that your don't understand or techy jargon that confuses you?....

Fear not!  This week I wanted to share part 1 of a 2 part series on explaining some of the most common design and development terms that get thrown around the design industry a lot.

a guide for non-designers on terms used in the design industry - part 1.jpg


Just like in Microsoft Word, where you can align a block of text, you can position elements in your design in the same manner. These elements can be positioned to each other or to the page. 


A bitmap graphic is the opposite of a vector graphic.  They are made up of pixels, and they are resolution dependent. So for example, if you zoom in on a photo, you will see the pixel dots that make that photo.  That's because photos are bitmap images.


This is similar to a styleguide, however, it is for quick reference only and summarises the brand.  It includes the primary logo, logo variations, colours, fonts and patterns for the brand as well.


A browser or internet browser is an app that is used to view websites. Popular examples of browsers include Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox.


A colour palette refers to a range of colours that are defined for a particular purpose or brand.


CMYK stands for "Cyan, Magenta, Yello and Key Black".  It is a common colour scheme, and setting that is related with graphic design.


Client homework is a set of questions provided by the designer to the client which need to be completed in order for the designer to understand the clients requirements. Examples of such questions could be:  Who are your competitors? How long have you been in business?


CMS stands for Content Management System.  A CMS lets users edit, delete, and manage the content on their website. Examples of popular CMS include Squarespace (what this website is built on) or Wordpress. 


CSS stands for Cascading Stylesheets.  CSS can be inline on an HTML page, within an HTML tag, or it can be on its own document and linked to from the HTML page.  CSS controls the style and layout of the website so that the design aspect is separate to the actual content.


Essentially a design brief or design questionnaire are the same thing.  It is usually a document which is provided by the client to the designer detailing what the project entails.  As the name suggests, it briefs the designer on the task that needs to be worked on.


A domain name is essentially the name of the website or URL, so for example. is the domain name. 


A favicon is a tiny customizable icon that is displayed in the web address bar in most browsers.  They are usually 16x16 pixels, however, some are 32x32 pixels.


Hosting is required for every website and it is where the files are placed on the internet for your website to be visible.


HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language.  It is the coding language that consists of a number of different tags that construct the content of a web page.


A hyperlink is a link from one page to another.  It can be on the same site or another website, and it can take the form of text or images.  Generally speaking, a hyperlink is often styled differently so to make it obvious it is a clickable element.  This is more often the case when it is a text link.


A pixel is the smallest element of a digital image.


Responsive web design is the term given to the concept of designing and developing a website so that the layout changes depending on the device/viewport on which the website is being viewed.  By device, I mean, mobile phone, tablet, desktop computer, or even smart TV.


RGB stands for "Red, Green, and Blue".  It is the colour mode for digital graphics.  Computer screens translate red, green and blue to create a digital palette.  So RGB is the mode to use for web design.

San serif typeface

This is a typeface, a font, that doesn't have any decorative elements or lines attached to the end of  a stroke.  San serif fonts tend to look clean and modern in their style.

Serif typeface

This is a typeface that do have decorative elements. The decorative strokes are found at the end of a stroke.  Serif fonts often look more traditional in their style.


Some websites are divided into lots of pages, others are more suited to being a single page.  A single page website is exactly what it says it is. It literally is one page that details everything the website owner wants to portray.  These have become more common in recent years.
An example of a single page website that I have designed and developed:


A styleguide is also known as a brand guideline. It is a record, which can be in the form of a PDF, web page, or a website that includes and details any rules and regulations  for a brand. It should detail all the colours, fonts, logo variations and spacing requirements for the brand.


A vector graphic is comprised of shapes rather than pixel dots.  This makes them scale better and are most commonly used for creating logos, icons and other design.


This term can be confused for space that is actually white. That is not the case, hence it is also referred to as "negative space".  It refers to the empty space around an object in design (the object could be a title, image, etc).


A wireframe is a simple outline of a web page.  It contains no design elements, so no colour or fonts and will show all elements that need to be included in the design.  Usually this is useful for mid to large websites, however, to give the client some indication of layout it can be useful for smaller projects as well.

What did you think of this list? Keep an eye out for Part 2 as there are a 25 more to get your head around!