Tech Terms: The Most Commonly Used & Misunderstood Tech Terms You Should Know

Technology moves fast. Before you can say disruptive technology, new buzzwords are being thrown out left and right, and it can be hard to keep up. Here’s our cheat sheet on the most commonly used buzzwords you’ll hear in mainstream conversation:

A/B Testing:// A comparative of two (or more) versions of content that determines which version performs better.

Adaptive web:// A formatting approach that adjusts the structure, content or presentation of information in response to the user’s interaction with the site.

Agile:// Project management method in which tasks are arranged in short periods of work where continual analysis and adaptation occur.

AI:// Artificial Intelligence; autonomous intelligent behavior of either machines or software, that have the ability to learn and improve over time.

API:// Application program interface. A set of tools used in building software applications, specifically tied to how various components should interact with each other.

Augmented reality:// A computer-generated sensory experience that augments/supplements/expands your real-world environment.

Authentication:// Process of establishing whether or not something is what it claims to be. For example, login passwords.

Big data:// A collection of gigantic and complex data too difficult to process through traditional on-site database management tools and applications. It is a source for continual insight analysis, research and discovery.

Blockchain:// A digitized and dispersed public ledger of cryptocurrency transactions.

CMS:// Content management system that is used to maintain the content of a website.

Disruption/Disruptive technology:// A new technology that unexpectedly expels an established one.

Fragmentation:// Contents of a single file are stored in various locations instead of an adjoining space. This can result in ineffective use of storage space and performance deterioration.

Gamification:// Taking the applied elements of game play, such as reward systems, badges and competition, and applying those basic principles to a product or service in order to increase loyalty and engagement.

Growth Hacking:// The use of analytics and technology in conjunction with development to increase a company’s growth.

HTML5:// The core technology language used for structuring and displaying content on the web.

Hybrid application:// An application that combines native (ex. PowerPoint) and web applications (ex. a retail site), generally used in mobile computing. A hybrid application can function regardless of whether or not the device is connected.

IAP :// In app purchase. A purchase made from within a mobile app after it is installed on your device.

IoT :// Internet of Things. The constant expanding network of physical products that are embedded with software, sensors, connectivity, etc., which enable the products to connect and exchange data.

Internet of things:// Everyday physical objects that are connected to the internet and can be identified to other devices. Objects that can sense an occurrence or activity and communicate the information, shaping human behavior and the decision making process.

Kanban:// A scheduling system used to improve and maintain a high level of production. It establishes a ceiling to the work in progress in order to avoid straining the system.

Lean UX:// A process for systematically dealing with uncertainty in a project. The focus is on short iterations that revolve around measuring and tackling complex issues. There are no departmental restraints on design and communication, so teams can work directly with product strategy.

Lean:// A simplistic approach to production in which the expenditure of resources for anything other than the target goal is considered wasteful and therefore eliminated.

Meme:// (pronounced MEEM) is an idea, action or style that is mimicked and spread from one person to another on a widespread visible platform, such as the internet.

Minimum viable product:// A learning method in which you test an idea by exposing an early version of your product to the target audience, collect the subsequent data and improve upon it.

Motivational UX:// A user-first approach to mobile application, web and digital innovation focused on better understanding an individual’s behavior, in an effort to find and create the triggers that lead to higher engagement.

MVP:// Minimum viable product. A method in which fast and quantitative market testing of a product or feature occurs by deploying a product that only has core features. Often deployed to a subgroup of potential customers in order to garner feedback in order to avoid building an end-product customers do not want.

Native build:// A program or application designed for use with a specific type of computer or mobile device.

Natural user interface:// A user interface that is effectively invisible to the end user, and devoid of artificial control devices (ex: a mouse and keyboard). It is designed to for the user to move from novice to expert in the shortest time possible. Prime example: touch screen.

NFC:// Near field communication. Set of standards for smartphones or tablets that establishes communication with each other by bringing them into close proximity.

Open source:// Universal access to a product’s design/blueprint/source code, in which improvements can be made by anyone.

Parallax:// Visual graphic technique where background imagery move slower than foreground imagery, giving the illusion of depth and 3D movement.

QA:// Quality assurance. Testing and pushing products past their limits to unearth bugs, glitches and usability issues prior to product launch, in order to fix and ensure a seamless product deployment.

Rapid ideation:// A method to explore opportunities and ideas quickly in a transparent environment in order to unearth the best solution as soon as possible.

Release candidate:// Essentially a sneak preview of a product to a select group of consumers with the hopes that bugs and glitches will come to light and be fixed prior to the general public release.

Responsive design:// A website designed to create an optimal viewing experience across all platforms – mobile, tablet, laptop/desktop. Navigation, imagery and text are resized accordingly to offer a seamless viewing experience.

Responsive web:// A formatting approach that creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website, depending on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it in order to make the content most optimal for viewing and navigation.

Scrum:// A framework for managing product development that is based on the idea of collaboration, in which real world progress dictates the continued plan and release. Projects are divided into measurements of time, known as sprints, that generally last 1, 2 or 3 weeks, where at the end of the sprint all team members assess the progress and plan the next step accordingly.

SDK:// Software development kit. A set of tools that allows for the creation of applications for a specific operating system or device.

Source code:// A collection of commands and instructions generally written using a text-based computer language or visual programming tool that makes up the computer program and tells it how to function.

The cloud:// A shared communications network, such as a datacenter of servers, connected to the Internet, rather than having a local server or personal devices handle and store data.

UI:// User interface. Commonly referred to as the space in which human and machine interaction occurs, i.e. a control panel.

User-generated content:// Content that is published from various, often unpaid and amateur, contributors to the web. Generally includes blog, video, surveys, social media, photography, etc.

UX:// User experience. It is based on incorporating all aspects of user center design that includes information architecture, targeted design, user testing, interactive design and visual design to make sure the end product makes sense to the target audience.

VUI:// Voice User Interfaces. This technology allows users to interact with a digital product through speech or voice commands.

XML:// Extensible markup language. A language with a specified set of rules for encoding documents in a format that both humans and machines can read.

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