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Business-to-business ecommerce—this is where businesses sell to other businesses over the Internet rather than through traditional channels.


Business-to-consumer ecommerce—this is the online retail of consumer goods and services. The most solid B2C model emerging is the clicks and mortar one.

See also [clicks and mortar]


Business-to-government ecommerce—this is where businesses sell to government or state agencies over the Internet.


See [Internet backbone]
Back button

A browser facility that allows the reader to “go back” to the last page they visited. The Back button is one of the most frequently used browser functions. “Hitting the Back button” has become a euphemism for getting out of a website.

The frequent use of the Back button shows the online reader’s impatience. When designing a website, remember that the reader is a Back-button-click away from leaving.

See also [online reader]

back end

Back end (noun), back-end (adjective).

Back-end software is software that runs on the mainframe or network server. Basically, the back end is the stuff that the reader doesn’t see. The individual computer interacts with the front end, which in turn interacts with the back end.

See also [front end]


Avoid tiled or otherwise distracting backgrounds (such as pictures used as backgrounds) because they make the text harder to read.

See also [color]

back up

Back up (verb), backup (noun and adjective).

This is when you make a duplicate copy of a program, a disk, or data. Always remember to back up, back up, and back up again.

backward, backwards

Backward in American English, backwards in British English.

backward compatible

This type of design continues to work with earlier versions of a language, program, or device.


Refers to the capacity of an electronic connection to send data. It is expressed in bits per second, bytes per second, or in hertz (cycles per second). The problem with bandwidth is that there’s never enough of it. Most readers use modems to access the Internet and thus have low bandwidth connections, making things happen slower than they would like. Keep your pages as small as possible to avoid making your reader wait.

See also [broadband]
See also [page downloads]

banner ad

A graphic advertisement on a website that Internet readers can click to go to the advertiser’s site. Banners are often animated or interactive. Because an animated banner distracts a reader, a good policy is to have the banner animate only once. Banners can come in a number of sizes. However, the most common, generally found at the top of the page, is 468 × 60 pixels. Banners can slow down the loading of a page. Therefore most sites require that a banner is no larger than 8 KB in file size.

To have a faster download and thus better first impression for the reader, many websites avoid having banner ads on the homepage. Another option is to have a smaller banner ad on homepages.

See also [promoting content]


A process where you swap content with other websites that are not directly competing with you.

basic search

See [search]

This is a pre-commercial release version of a piece of software. Companies allow people to download beta software for free or at a discount to get feedback on how well the software works.

best viewed with

An instruction found on some websites informing the reader that the website has been optimized for a particular browser or version of a browser. Also relates to informing the reader that they require some plug-in, such as Flash, to “best view” the website.

A best-viewed-with approach runs contrary to why the Web was invented in the first place. As Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, said in 1996: “Anyone who slaps a ‘this page is best viewed with Browser X’ label on a webpage appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network.”

Put another way, this approach is a bit like telling a customer that your shop is best viewed with 3D glasses, and not just that, but you won’t let them in unless they go off and buy a pair. It is rare indeed that you will find this elitist, reader-hostile approach to design in the more successful websites. A best-viewed-with approach to Web design is best viewed with skepticism.


1,000 million. (Formerly in the UK, a billion represented one million million.)

The word billion is normally spelled out:

10 billion (not 10,000,000,000).


See [bylines]

Binary digit.


A bitmap is a set of bits that represents a graphic image. Bitmaps are large files and are not generally used as a graphic format on the Web.

See also [JPEG]
See also [GIF]


Be careful with any use of bold in the body of the text—large blocks of bold can be distracting, while a word in bold might be mistaken for a link. If you do use bold, ensure that it’s black bold, as colored bold can easily be mistaken for a link. It’s okay to use colored bold for a heading or subhead.

See also [color]


A bookmark is a shortcut to a Webpage, stored and accessed in a Web browser. In Microsoft Internet Explorer a bookmark is called a favorite.

Boolean search

See [search]

For punctuation information, see parentheses and punctuation.


In the offline world, brands are increasingly driven by strong visual presentations that “grab” the reader’s attention. On the Web, the reader must first find your website. Therefore, once at your site, your brand has already got your reader’s attention, so don’t annoy them by having a big swirling logo or a fancy splash screen that just delays them.

On a website, visual branding takes a backseat to content branding. Go to the websites of some of the biggest brands in the world (Microsoft, AOL, IBM) and you’ll see small logos. Instead, they brand with their content, creating loyalty by providing easy-to-find, quality content.

See also [logos]
See also [viral marketing]

breadcrumb trail

See [classification path navigation]
breaking news

Breaking news deals with essential content that needs to be promoted immediately and as widely as possible throughout the website. To achieve this, a space directly underneath the masthead should be allocated. Breaking news should be text based.

Because breaking news is time-critical, not only the date but also hour and minute information should be provided. Always include the time zone.

See also [dating documents and summaries]
See also [promoting content]
See also [time zones]
See also [masthead]

bricks and clicks

See [clicks and mortar]
bricks and mortar

This is a term for a traditional retail business.

British English

See [language]
British pound

See [foreign currencies]

A high-speed communications technology that allows voice, Internet, and television to be delivered over one connection/wire. There is a danger that broadband has been massively over-hyped. In 1996, we were told that broadband was “just around the corner.” In 2000, we were told that broadband was “just around the corner.” Studies are indicating that even by 2005 the average person accessing the Internet will not have broadband access. So don’t design your site on the assumption that everybody will soon have broadband access—they may be waiting a while yet.


A website that is basically an imitation of a brochure, employing little or none of the unique characteristics of the Web (hypertext, comprehensive updated content, interactivity, search).


See [web browser]
browser compatibility

Refers to whether a website is viewable in a range of browsers. Different browsers—in fact different versions of different browsers—can present Webpages in very different ways. A webpage that looks fine on Internet Explorer 5, for example, may look terrible in Netscape Navigator 4. It’s vital that a website design works well in all major browsers and browser versions. The only way to determine this is to test the website on a variety of browser versions. As a rule of thumb, your website should work with all browsers of version 4 and upward.

browser window

See [window]

The act of using a browser to move from website to website, or to move through a particular website.

bulletin board

See [discussion board]

Capitalize the first word only.

When referring to button names in the body text, follow the interface for capitalization style, that is, if it’s capitalized on the interface, then capitalize it in the text:

Click the Print button on the Standard toolbar to print your file.

See also [onscreen capitalization]


Readers like to know who the author of a particular article is. They may also wish to find out more about that author, and perhaps get in touch with them. Therefore, it is advisable to provide a byline for each document (By John Smith). Have the byline link to an email address. Also provide a “Bio” link beside the byline that links to biographical details, such as other articles they have written. Provide a photo of the author where possible.

The recommended position is after the heading and summary and before the body of the article, in the same size as the body text.


A group of eight bits.



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