What is a Node? And other Web development terms demystified

What is a Node? And other Web development terms demystified

10 Jul
Photo credit: kinneybrothers.com

Being a project manager for a web development company doesn’t necessarily mean you are well versed in all those technical, development terms.  You probably know the basics, but when a developer comes to you and tells you that they have to a add a Node, a Content Type or a WYSIWYG and let’s not forget the classics Front End and Back End, you may find yourself with a confused look on your face, not knowing what he/she is talking about.


I’m here to demystify these terms for you so that next time you hear them, you’ll change that blank stare into an understanding nod.


What is a NODE?

A Node is a term that means an item or a point.  It can be defined as a single item of content that belongs to a content type which is published on your site, for example: a page, an article, a product.  Let’s say you have an e-commerce site with a products page, each individual product shown on the products page of your web site is considered to be a Node (In a WordPress site, this would be called a Post).

This is not to be confused with a Content Type, which I’ll explain as well to help erase that questioning look you may have right now.  A Content Type is the definition of the structure of a Node.  You might be saying to yourself "Huh?", so let me illustrate what I’m talking about (again here, I am taking an e-commerce site as an example):


Content Type:

The structure of your "product" is the content type.  The structure in this case is this:

  • An image
  • A product name
  • A price
  • A description

Front End vs. Back End

If you work or have ever worked in a web environment or if you’ve had your website done by developers/programmers, you are most likely familiar with the terms Front End and Back End.  If a developer asks about your Front end or Back end, he’s not referring to your body parts, but rather your website and its management. But you may have wondered at some point how to explain the difference between the two in simple terms. Here is the easiest way to define the two:

Front End: The part of the website that you see and can interact with.  This basically consists of the design (layout and visible content) plus the effects.  You can read more about the evolution of Front End in this article from a previous blog post by Matthieu Gadrat.

Back End:  In simple terms, this is everything that users can't see, the "behind the scene"’ or intelligence of your website.  The Back End generally consists of three parts: the server, the application, and the database. The Back End is where you login as the administrator of your site, to modify, add or delete its content.



The first time I heard this word way back in the day, my initial reaction was to say "Gesundheit".  However, I learned quickly that this wasn’t a sneeze, but rather a text editor that allows its user to add text, format it and manipulate the layout, very similarly to Microsoft Word, to then view it pretty much as-is in a  webpage. A WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) is a great tool for users as it allows you to play around with the text, add images or videos within the pages of your site using your CMS, without having previous knowledge of any programming language.

So now that you are better versed in all these web development terms, the next time you hear any one of these, you’ll feel better knowing that not only are you are that much more knowledgeable about website development, but you’ll turn that confused look, into an appreciative nod because you’ll know exactly what the person is talking about.


Tags : web development terms, website

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