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Stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a private non-profit organization that administers domain name registration and Internet protocols.


Any small onscreen image that represents an object or program. Because of the truly international nature of the Web (a particular icon can mean different things in different cultures), and because of bandwidth and screen size constraints, icons tend to be used sparingly on the Web.

Icons should always have text descriptions (see www.yahoo.com for an example). There’s no point having a fancy icon that represents “What’s New” if a large number of your readers do not recognize it as such. Therefore, put a “What’s New” text description underneath or beside the icon. Icons should link to the page they represent (except when they are already on that page, see links).

The rules for graphics apply to icons also.

See also [graphics]


Stands for Information and Communication Technology, the study of the technology used to handle information and aid communication. By adding “Communication” to the more familiar “Information Technology,” this term attempts to reflect the increasing role of both information and communication technologies in all aspects of society.


Stands for identification. Use capitals, no periods.


See [e.g]
image map

This is a graphic image that contains more than one link. Clicking different parts of the image links the reader to other resources on another part of the page, a different Webpage, or a file. Try to use client-side rather than server-side image maps for accessibility reasons.

See also [accessibility]
See also [client side]


The interactive wireless information service offered by NTT DoCoMo to Japanese consumers. It is seen as an alternative to WAP, as it has been much more successful in Japan than WAP has been in Europe.

See also [WAP]


In Web advertising, the term impression indicates an advertisement’s appearance on a Webpage. Online publishers offer advertising measured in terms of ad views or impressions. If the page you’re on shows two ads, that’s two impressions, so there will often be more impressions than page impressions.

See also [page impression]


An infomediary (information intermediary) is an organization or individual that collects information on a group of people and then trades that information to gain benefit for that group. For an infomediary to be successful, it must first gain the trust of the group by protecting the privacy of individual members. Then it must have sufficient information on a sufficient number of people to trade profitably, while delivering value to that group.

An example of an infomediary trade would be if the infomediary went to Ford Motor Company and said, “I have 1,000 people who wish to buy cars within the next six months. What discount will I get if they all buy Fords?” If Ford decided to give a special discount, then the infomediary would split that discount between itself and the individual purchasers.


Information is the process by which knowledge is communicated. There are two basic methods by which information can be communicated: through person-to-person interaction, and through content.

information age

Term used to differentiate the current era from the industrial era. So called because electronic access to information through computer technology is now a major contributor to Western economies.

information architect

The information architect is responsible for the overall architecture of the website. Specific responsibilities include

  • the design and management of the metadata, classification, search, and navigation

  • layout and design of the website

  • quality of the HTML

  • ensuring that pages download quickly

  • usability and accessibility

  • choice and management of content-management, subscription, logging, and other relevant software

The most important skill an information architect requires is the ability to develop proper metadata designs. Classification design is central here, as is the design of the document templates. Metadata is directly linked to the design of search, and the architect must have an excellent grasp of how to create a search function that is simple to use, yet powerful. Navigation is at the heart of information architecture and the architect must have a keen understanding of navigation design and know when and how to implement various navigation options.

The information architect needs to be skilled in laying out content to achieve optimal readability. This is linked with the “look and feel” of the website, which they should consider with input from the graphic designer. They need to be skilled in HTML and know how to code pages that are fast to download. Information architecture is intertwined with usability and the architect should either have a background in usability design, or should be able to work hand in hand with a usability expert. Among other things, expertise in accessibility design will be required here.

The information architect should have a thorough understanding of the software required to run the publication. They should be able to advise the managing editor on various software options. Their expertise should include

  • content-management applications

  • subscription-based publishing software

  • website-log software

  • personalization software

  • online-community software (chat, discussion boards, email mailing lists)

See also [accessibility]
See also [navigation]
See also [website layout and design]

information architecture

Information architecture deals with the organization and layout of content on a website. Specifically, it refers to the development of metadata, classification, navigation, search, and content layout.

Good information architecture helps readers to find and read content. It allows them to perform the task they are trying to do in the easiest and most logical manner. It provides appropriate feedback to the reader as they are moving through the website, as well as online help where needed.

See also [accessibility]
See also [information architect]
See also [navigation]
See also [website layout and design]

information economy

See [new economy]
information literate

In an information economy it is not enough to be able to read and write. For those who want to find quality employment, a new form of literacy is required: information literacy. The International Adult Literacy Survey defines information literacy as “the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities, at home, at work, and in the com-munity—to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” According to the American Library Association: “Ultimately, information-literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them.”

information overload

Information overload is the modern problem of feeling overwhelmed by information due to the easy access to numerous communications sources filled with vast quantities of content. Because digital content can be reproduced at little cost, the temptation is to produce (or reproduce) that content whether it is useful or not. Information overload is one of the most critical problems individuals and organizations face today.

If you consider that every day there are another 7 million documents added to the 550 billion documents published on the Web, and that over 90 percent of all unique content produced in the world is in digital format, you can get an idea of the scale of the problem. (According to the University of California, Berkeley: “The world’s total yearly production of print, film, optical, and magnetic content would require roughly 1.5 billion gigabytes of storage. This is the equivalent of 250 megabytes per person for each man, woman, and child on earth.”)

The only workable solution to information overload is better publishing practices. Publishing addresses the core issues such as what to publish and what not to publish. Good publishers will probably reject up to 90 percent of what they receive for publication.

intellectual capital

See [knowledge capital]

Interactive technology is any technology that allows exchange between the user and the computer program. From an Internet perspective, interactivity is the process by which a reader interacts with elements on a website and gets an appropriate response. Interactivity also refers to a situation where a person interacts with other people by communicating through email, discussion boards, chat software, or other tools. Interactivity is always a two-way process. If the organization does not reply to the communication, then no real interactivity has occurred.


The point of connection between two elements that enables them to work with each other.

internal banner advertising

A banner advertising system is a useful tool to promote important content on your site, although it needs to be recognized that banner advertising has significantly diminished in its effectiveness over the past couple of years.

See also [banner ad]
See also [promoting content]


(Always capitalized, sometimes shortened to Net.) The Internet is a “network of networks.” Developed in the 1960s by the US Military—and then called the ARPANET—the Internet became the first system that connected computers regardless of their make or type. Before the Internet, there were only private networks connecting the same types of computers, often in the same building.

The Internet’s revolutionary impact is that it allows anyone with a computer, a telephone line, and an Internet service provider (ISP) account to connect up. However, Internet use stayed largely within academia until the invention of the Web by Tim Berners-Lee in the early 1990s. With the Web, Internet use exploded. In 1993, it was estimated that there were roughly 4 million people using the Internet and only 50 websites. By 2000, driven by the Web, this estimate had risen to over 400 million people and perhaps more than 20 million websites. While its two core elements are the Web and email—throughout its history, email has been the most powerful and used tool that the Internet has introduced—Usenet, Telnet, and FTP are also part of the Internet.

Regardless of the hype and the occasional market crash, the Internet is one of the great inventions of mankind. In terms of uptake, it is the fastest growing technology of all time. Truly, the revolution has only begun.

Internet addresses

See [Web address]
Internet backbone

The underlying high-speed network connections of the Internet. The backbone carries the heaviest Internet traffic and smaller networks are attached to it.

Internet penetration

This is the level of Internet use in a country or region.

Internet Protocol

See [IP]

Everyone who uses the Internet recognizes that there is much more that it could achieve if it were faster. For this reason, the Internet2 initiative was launched. Internet2 includes over 180 universities working with industry and government. According to the Internet2 Consortium, the objective is to “develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies, accelerating the creation of tomorrow’s Internet.” Basically, Internet2 is about making the Internet much faster.


Advertisements that pop up in a new browser window while an Internet reader is waiting for a page to load.


Lowercase (there is only one Internet; there are many intranets).

An intranet is a publication to staff containing content that helps them to do a better, more efficient job. A quality intranet facilitates staff in combining internal and external information to achieve organization objectives. It can deepen organization culture, support new staff induction, and remove the inherent security risks involved in important documents being attached to email. Critically, it can capture staff knowledge, so that if they leave, the organization has some record of the expertise they developed.

Unfortunately, there is a strange assumption among some people that purely by placing content on an intranet (no matter how poor in quality), it will automatically become high-quality content that people will want to read. It doesn’t work that way.

Like an Internet site, an intranet should be managed by an editor or group of editors who understand the type of content that the organization’s staff need. Staff don’t somehow “dumb down” when they go to the intranet. If a staff member reads the Washington Post over breakfast, they may not expect the same quality of writing when looking at their intranet, but they won’t accept the type of poor-quality content that unfortunately often finds its way onto intranets. If staff don’t find quality content on the intranet, they will stop using it.

In the early days, senior management often ignored intranets. Little or no standards were applied. It’s of fundamental importance now that an intranet strategy is based on organization-wide objectives and standards. Publishing standards are critical to ensure that the right content is published for the right person. Information architecture standards are required so that content is professionally organized and laid out. Remember that an intranet will have far more content than an Internet website. Without a well-thought-out information architecture, the management of content will become a nightmare.

In the modern, often physically dispersed, organization, the intranet might be the one place that every employee can visit every day. In this sense, it can act as a vehicle that communicates organization strategy and culture. Properly designed and run, it becomes the essential glue that helps hold an organization together.

Like all websites, an intranet should focus on what’s vital—the content. Keep the pages small as you may have people logging on from outside the office (home, hotels, and so on), and focus on the content that’s really important to staff such as essential directories, containing at a minimum phone and email details to facilitate staff communication.

Reasons why intranets fail include the following:

  • no clear focus or objectives, resulting in staff losing faith, dismissing the intranet, and going to other sources for their content

  • not enough budget, inadequate skills, and lack of training

  • poor-quality content and poorly designed information architecture

  • staff who are expected to contribute content don’t have the time, or the required skills, and they don’t see it as part of their job function


Internet Protocol, the protocol that transmits packets of data over the Internet and routes them to their destination.

IP address

This is a computer’s unique address on the Internet. They are written as four groups of up to three digits separated by periods, These are translated into domain names (www.cnn.com) by DNS.

See also [DNS]


Stands for initial public offering, the first sale of a company’s stocks or shares to the general public on the stock market.

Irish punts

See [foreign currencies]

Stands for Integrated Services Digital Network, a global communications standard for sending data over digital lines. ISDN lines are often used by businesses because they are faster than standard Internet connections.


Short for International Organization for Standardization, a non-government, worldwide federation of national standards bodies from 140 countries, one from each country, founded in 1947. ISO is responsible for creating international standards in many areas, including computers and communications. (ISO is not an acronym, or it would be IOS; rather, it comes from the Latin word isos, meaning equal.)

See also [abbreviations and acronyms]


Stands for Internet service provider, a company that provides Internet access.


Stands for Information Technology, the use of computer and electronic technologies to process and distribute information.


In italic print or typeface the letters slant to the right. Italics can be hard to read on screen and therefore should be avoided in general text, particularly when used in conjunction with small fonts.

However, certain conventions call for the use of italics. Use italics for

  • titles of books, films, plays, long poems, periodicals, including newspapers, magazines, and journals (but don’t use italics for website names, even if they are online periodicals)

    The New York Times has an excellent style guide.

  • works of art, names of ships, foreign words and expressions

    George Elliot was merely her nom de plume.

  • letters, words, and terms used to refer to the letter, word, or term itself

    An em dash is the width of the letter m.

    Kid means goat and kid means child.

See also [special treatment of words]

its, it’s

One of the most common mistakes in the English language. Its is the possessive form, it’s is a contraction of “it is” or “it has”:

It’s (it is) not easy being this perfect you know.

It’s (it has) been a good summer.

The poor animal hurt its paw.



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