Terms every designer should know

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As a designer, it is expected that you know some basic terms which will be used from time to time in the field. You continue to interact with developers and high-level tech experts, and it is always excellent to be knowledgeable about some of the terms they use. 


Kerning: This refers to the horizontal spacing between two consecutive character.
Tracking: This refers to uniform horizontal spacing without depending on the shape of the letter.
Leading: This refers to vertical spacing between two lines of text. 


RAGS: This refers to the uneven sides of a paragraph.

Agile: This is a design process that involves moving quickly, keeping the code simple and delivering different parts of a project as soon as they are available.

Scrum: This involves working in small chunks. It involves taking a product backlog from the product owner and completing it in bits.

Sprint: In agile software development, this is the time it takes to complete a specific task. The length can vary but is usually around 1-3 weeks.

A/B Testing: This means testing different versions of a product/software/project with users to see which one they prefer.

Commits: This refers to snapshots of your files at different stages of application development.

HTML: This refers to the general structure of a website (Hypertext Markup Language)

CSS: This refers to the general styling of a website, color, fonts, etc. (Cascading Styles Sheet)


JavaScript: This refers to the behavior of a website. It refers to how a website is expected to function

Emoticon: This refers to the typographical display of facial representation used to convey emotions 

API: Application Programming Interface, this refers to the way computers and networks share information with each other.


GIF: Graphic Interchange Format. This refers to a never-ending loop of moving images.

Iteration: This is the act of breaking down software development into smaller parts 

Pairing: This is when two developers work together. One developer writes the code while the other one reviews.

Pull Request: This enables developers to tell each other changes they have made on Github.

Refactoring: Cleaning up your existing code without affecting its functionality. 

Tech Debt:  This means working against standards but ultimately achieving the end-result to tidy up later.

Waterfall: This means each phase of a development process must be completed before moving on to the next stage. 


80:20 rule: 20% of the functionality and features of a product are responsible for 80% of the result.

Accessibility: This refers to the ease of use of an application. 

Ethnography: the study of people in their environment by interview or face to face interaction. 

Fish Bone Diagram/ Ishiakawa Diagram: This identifies the root causes of a particular problem by categorizing each major potential cause and breaking them down. 

Fitt’s Law: This means making functions users use consistently more evident than the others. For example, the space bar is more extensive than other keys on a computer keyboard because it is used a lot.

HEART: Happiness (net promoter score, satisfaction), Engagement (user activity), Adoption (new users), Retention (% of active users), Task Analysis.


Hick’s law: This is the time it takes a user to make a decision based on the number of choices he has.

Human Factors & Ergonomics: Designing products in a way that takes proper account of the interaction between them and people who use them. 

Minesweeping: Identifying where page links are located within the cursor. 

Think-Aloud: This is the method used to gather data on usability testing. 

Usability Benchmarking: This measures the current usability of a system and provides a baseline against which future usability can be measured. 

We hope you’ve found these terminologies to be helpful and insightful.
Don’t forget to infuse some of these in your daily conversations and interactions with your circle of professionals.

About the author

Ayilara Olatunde
By Ayilara Olatunde

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