Necessarily, development for the web is full of ‘jargon’, simply because most words relating to the web have not entered the popular dialect. Words like ‘blog’ or ‘Tweet’ have finally become household names, perhaps because they are the only words you could really use for that function, but the majority of web-related words are still deemed as obscure buzzwords, even though they describe things that people use every day.
This can be a bit of a problem for us. As well as developing/maintaining CMS and Apache websites, we also provide support for such items. Usually this is fine, but every now and again, there are quite interesting ‘miscommunications’ with users regarding fairly simple website issues because of our different understandings of a web-related word. Our central training teams work hard to ensure that, for instance, CMS users understand what a ‘browser’ is, and can hopefully help people to understand what certain other web terms mean. However, there are obviously a great number of users who have escaped training, and so the miscommunications continue.
Personally, I’ve noticed that there are certain terms that are repeatedly used in vague and erroneous ways, often giving rise to confusion and frustration for both users and support staff. Obviously users shouldn’t have to learn ‘computer-speak’ to feel that they can call a web support team, but equally they shouldn’t feel the need to use certain words in a phone call/email when they’re not sure what they mean!
Anyway, these are a few of the most common culprits, but I’d be interested if there are further ‘problem’ terms that crop up for others who support IT/websites.
The term ‘link’ normally refers to a hyperlink from one URL to another. However, this term, more than any other, is used to refer to:
The confusion here is possibly down to what a link is for most people – something that you click on, which opens a new page. Sadly however, this is quite a big difference to what we would understand a link to be. Therefore, if someone asks us for a link in a certain location, we’ll add a hyperlink, while the user actually wants us to create an entirely new page.
2. “Going live”
If a user of a CMS asks for their site to go live, it’s fairly clear what that means: to change the URL of the site so that it’s not accessed in the CMS development area anymore.
But if a user is working on a site elsewhere, this term could mean a number of things. It could most likely mean that they’re trying to upload a site from their personal computer to the web server. However (as is often the case), it could just mean that they want a link from, e.g. the homepage, to their new website, or that they want their site to be moved from a development location they set up to a more accessible location. It could also, and this happens occasionally, mean that they want their site to be ‘lively’, by incorporating swirly animated .gifs, or large images that change every 3 seconds on their homepage.
Portals are, to be fair, not the easiest concepts: they’re generally thought of as being websites that work as an easy entrance to other services, like email, calendars, searches, etc. (check out iGoogle if you’re unfamiliar with the term).
However, a portal has traditionally been thought of as the opening to a large building, like a cathedral. So it’s not too surprising that users will term any ‘thing’ that opens up into a bigger ‘thing’ with this word. Understandably then, If someone asks for a portal, this has often just meant a login box, that takes them to a single web application. On larger scale however, we’ve also heard the term used when referring to networks, virtual machines, and Staff WTS…
Any other suggestions..?