There's no avoiding technology. From building websites to mobile apps, you need it one way or another to launch a successful business today. But understanding tech jargon and trying to communicate with IT managers can be challenging for many business owners.
Understanding common tech terms can help you recruit IT employees, know how their decisions can affect the business and ask them the right questions. Here's a list of 10 must-know tech terms and phrases, translated for the non-tech whiz:
1. Wireframe: This is a visual guide that represents the blueprint of a web page and shows you what a page does, not just what it looks like. A wireframe contains the layout of the content, page elements and website navigation system, and shows how they work together.
You can draw wireframe layouts using PowerPoint or more sophisticated layout tools such as Balsamiq or Omnigraffle ($79-$199 for a license). If you need help, you can hire a wireframing expert, also known as a user experience designer, to guide you through this process.
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2. Prototype: These are interactive demos of a website. Prototypes are often used to gather feedback from users before the project goes into final development.
A prototype can be anything from a paper sketch to a clickable demo. You can create clickable prototypes in PowerPoint or Word, or as PDF documents. There are also more advanced prototyping tools such as Axure and Mockingbird. A desktop application, Axure costs $589 per license. Mockingbird, which is a web application, starts at $9 a month for two active projects and increases to $85 a month for an unlimited number.
3. UI/UX: UX design, also known as user experience design, gives insights into how site visitors think, act and react when using the site or an application. UI design, also known as user interface design, teaches designers how to build layouts so users can easily interact with the page.
4. Minimal Viable Product (MVP): This is an iterative process of idea generation, prototyping, presentation, data collection, analysis and learning, so you can build web and mobile applications that help solve your customer's problems. You launch your web or mobile app as fast as you can with as few features as possible, so you can collect feedback from users, determine how they are interacting and improve the product based on what you learn.
5. Agile Project Management: This is an approach to planning and guiding a project. An agile project is completed in small sections called iterations or sprints. Each iteration is reviewed and critiqued by the project team, and insights gained from the critiques are used to determine what the next step should be in the project.
Typically, each iteration is scheduled to be completed within two weeks. The main benefit of agile project management is the ability to respond to issues as they arise throughout the course of the project. Making a necessary change to a project at the right time can save resources, and ultimately, help deliver a successful project on time and within budget.
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6. Modular Programming: This allows you to write computer programs that are readable and reliable, and can be easily maintained or modified. Instead of having a large collection of code in one file, you divide the code into logical groups called modules. Each module performs one or two tasks, then passes control to another module. By breaking up the code into "bite-sized chunks," you can better control and maintain large software systems.
7. Scope Creep: In project management, scope creep refers to changes or additional features that expand the size of a project beyond what was originally planned. This usually occurs when the scope of a project is not properly defined at the outset.
8. Version Control: This is a combination of technologies and practices for tracking and controlling changes to a project's files: source code, documentation, web pages and more. This is necessary when you have multiple people working on the same files to ensure that they don't overwrite each other's changes.
9. Content Management System (CMS): A password-protected software system that provides tools to create and manage website content and doesn't require any knowledge of programming languages. WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are examples of CMS.
10. Scaling Horizontally and Vertically: Scaling out applications horizontally means they run across multiple servers so that a single server or data center outage won't bring them down. Scaling up an application vertically means that your application works on one server. To scale up the application, you will add more memory and processing power to that server.
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