A series of articles on how tech
impacts the housing sector
Part Two: Terminology Guide
In the second of our article series that aims to demystify tech, we’re looking at some of the most common terms that can be thrown around by people who work in the industry. Many of these will be things you come across in daily working life, so our intention here is to separate out some of the misconceptions and to ‘lift the veil’ on others.
Back end: Back end refers to the “under the hood” part of a website or web service that makes it run – this includes applications, web servers, and databases – and won’t be visible to users interacting with the site or service.
Big data: Big data is a term for collections of data that are so large they can’t be processed through traditional data processing systems. These collections come from sources like mobile devices, emails, search keywords, user database information, applications, and servers. By finding ways to comb through this data, companies can identify consumer patterns and use them to predict and optimise their business.
Browser cache: This is the appliance or instrument through which a browser saves the data needed to see a website, like images and HTML. When you revisit a web page, it’ll take less time to load than the first time you visited it because a cached version of the page was already saved the first time you were there.
Bugs: Bugs are coding mistakes or unwanted pieces of code that keep a website or program from working properly.
Cloud computing: Cloud computing is a practice where data is not stored locally on your own computer, but instead is spread out among a number of remote servers accessible through the internet. Services like Google Docs, Facebook, and Gmail are examples of cloud computing—you are interacting with data on your home computer that is stored externally in “the cloud.”
Cookies: A small file that a web server automatically sends to your personal computer when you browse certain websites. The identifying information they contain includes login credentials (including usernames and passwords), shopping cart information, and preferences. They’re stored as text files on your hard drive so servers can access them when you return to websites you’ve visited before.
CSS: CSS means ‘cascading style sheets. It’s a language that manages the design and presentation of web pages, i.e. the colour, look, feel, and so on. It works together with HTML, which handles the content of web pages. Think of HTML is the skeleton of web pages and CSS as the clothing!
Database: When we refer to this we’re talking about a collection of information, organised to be easily accessed, managed & updated. We use them to make information easily searchable.
Firewall: Firewalls are systems designed to protect and secure a computer network—everything from a commercial web service to your home WiFi network—from external security risks. Firewalls monitor inbound and outbound network traffic and determine whether or not to allow the traffic through based on a set of security standards.
Front end: Front end describes all the parts of a website that can be seen and interacted with by users.
HTML: This is the standard coding ‘language’ that our developers will use to create web pages
Responsive web design: Responsive web design is the practice of designing websites so that they adapt gracefully to different-sized devices like phones, tablets, wearable devices, etc. This is what we aim for with our systems! If you’re able to visit a website on your phone and it looks just as proportional and seamless as it does on your computer, it’s an example of responsive web design.
Software: Software is a program or set of instructions that tells a computer, phone, or tablet what to do.
URL: URL means ‘uniform resource locator’. Also known as a web address, a URL is a specific character string that refers to a resource. It’s displayed on the top of a web browser inside an ‘address’ bar. An example of a URL would be: https://www.housingpartners.co.uk
VPN: VPN stands for ‘virtual private network’ and is a technology that creates a safe and encrypted connection over a less secure network, such as the internet. VPN technology was developed as a way to allow remote users and branch offices to securely access corporate applications and other resources.
Web servers: The web servers are where website files are housed, served, and maintained.
404: You’ll see 404 error pages when you try to reach a web page that doesn’t exist. This usually happens when the web page has been deleted or you’ve mistyped the URL.
We hope our tech terminology guide has been enlightening; that you spotted a few terms you already knew and have a better understanding of others that may have eluded you until now! Remember, if you’re speaking with any of our team and you come across a phrase you’re unsure of, we’re always happy to explain, so just ask!