Digital Agency Jargon Buster

As a digital marketing agency working on simultaneous projects, we often use terminology designed to simplify our communication and save time. However, this can sometimes be confusing for clients and outside agencies who specialise in other fields. So to ensure we're on the same page, take a look below at our no-nonsense guide to GIG lingo.

Design Terminology.

1) Typeface vs Fonts.

Often, the two words are used interchangeably, and it’s not an issue. But, on a technical level, the two words have distinct meanings and – depending on the context – you may misuse them.

A typeface is a set of design features such as the presence or lack of a serif, the weight and balance of letters, or the spacing and height difference between upper and lowercase letters.

Some of the most common types of typefaces are seen in the image here.

So what is a font?

Quite simply, a typeface contains multiple fonts from the same family. In addition, these fonts have variations, such as a specific weight and size type within that family.

For example, a typeface such as Helvetica Neue falls under the sans-serif category and has numerous fonts, such as light, roman, bold or black.


2) Whitespace.

Whitespace is the area between design elements, usually in reference to digital or print projects. As well as elements, it can also refer to the space between typography glyphs.

However, don’t be fooled by its name. Whitespace does not need to be white. It can be of any colour or background image.

Whitespace should not be considered wasted space, as it helps directly improve readability, the user experience and allows clients and designers alike to highlight specific assets within the design.

3) High vs Low Resolution.

Higher resolutions mean more pixels per inch (PPI) in an image or video. With more pixels comes a high-quality, crisper image. Conversely, images with lower resolutions have fewer pixels, meaning lower definition in your pictures, thus a lower quality.

The use of higher resolution images becomes paramount if you’re planning on using those assets for a print project. Any assets below 300 dots per inch (DPI) will result in a lower quality image on paper.

high and low resolution images

pixels vs vector

4) Raster vs Vector Artwork.

There are two main types of image files; Raster and Vector.

Raster images are created with pixel-based software or captured on devices such as cameras and scanners. Common file types include jpg, gif or png and form most images found on the internet.

Vector images are math-defined shapes created with vector software such as Adobe Illustrator.

The main difference between the two is that when scaling Raster images, the quality will degrade. However, Vector images are mathematically recalculated to remain crisp consistently.

5) RGB vs CMYK.

Although both parts of the colour palette world, CMYK and RGB colours will display differently, depending on the medium used.

As a quick reference, CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black) is intended for work printed with ink and RGB (Red, Green & Blue) is for work shown on digital displays.

rgb vs cmyk


6) Pantone.

Before Pantone, every printing company had their own colour palette. As a result, printing colours from one company would invariably differ from the colours of other companies. From a designer’s perspective, it simply didn’t cut the mustard.

In 1963, Pantone developed the first colour matching system and standardised how graphic designers could expect their work to look when printed.

By adhering to the Pantone colour chart (shown with handy numbered identifiers), brands can ensure colour consistency across all marketing materials, no matter with whom they work.

7) Print Proof.

Much as it sounds, a ‘print proof’ is a prototype of your print materials, created to accurately represent how your content will look when professionally printed.

When working with CMYK colour palettes on digital displays, it’s not always easy to accurately represent print colours.

So the overall success of your print campaign relies upon creating one or more print proofs, thus giving you confidence in how your project will look on paper.

print proof

Digital Terminology.

1) CMS (Content Management Systems).

A content management system, often abbreviated to CMS, is web software that helps individuals or businesses create, manage, and modify content on a website without specialised technical knowledge.

Instead of building your website from scratch, a CMS can provide you with the basic infrastructure to create pages, store files and hold data about your business and clients.

The most common CMS found is WordPress. However, other systems such as Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Squarespace, or Magento are available, with some focussing more on eCommerce solutions.

What is a CMS?

what is an app?

2) Apps.

Whether they’re native or web-based, apps form a massive part of our day-to-day lives. In short, they stand for “application” and can either be installed on a computer, tablet or smartphone (native) or run via a website (web-based).

Web-based apps boast benefits such as being more cost-effective in both development cost and time. Accessibility is also improved as they can be tailored to work with a wide range of desktop, tablet or smartphone web browsers. However, the main downside is that they require an internet connection to function correctly and suffer from stability across multiple devices.

Native apps are designed to be installed on specific devices, such as iPhones or Android phones. Unfortunately, this means that it won’t run on all devices unless the app is designed for multiple operating systems. Although suffering from higher development costs, native apps make full use of smartphone interactivity and provide a far more immersive user experience.

3) Wireframe.

A website wireframe (also known as a blueprint) is a visual guide representing the layout of a website. These elements include the interface and navigational systems but will avoid including typographic styles, colour or graphics. Their focus is primarily on function and behaviour compared to the actual content of each page.

what is a website wireframe?

what is a website sitemap?

4) Sitemap.

A sitemap is a file containing hierarchical information about the pages found within a website or app. Not only does it help in demonstrating how pages sit within a navigation system, but it also helps show how the user interaction flows from start to finish.

As well as helping in the planning phase of a digital development project, a well thought out sitemap will also assist Google in properly indexing the content of your website, thus improving your search engine score.

Video Terminology.

1) Cel Animation.

In the traditional sense, Cel animation is the process of creating a 2D animation by hand on transparent plastic sheets or celluloid (cels). Therefore, each animation frame must be drawn separately, with slight incremental changes to show a character’s motion.

In modern terms, the only difference is that instead of plastic sheets, motion designers and illustrators now incorporate digital software into the process, allowing for more control and precision over their cels.

This process is very labour intensive as for each second of footage, around 24 individual frames must be drawn. Examples of Cel animation can be seen in our Burden of Heart Failure project.

cel animation

motion graphics

2) Motion Graphics.

Motion graphics can be spotted in almost every piece of video content that we see on a daily basis. In addition, motion graphics play a pivotal role in visual storytelling, whether it’s adverts, television or another digital medium. So what are they?

In the simplest terms, motion graphics refers to graphics with movement. These range from simple animated title sequences to creating an animated film in its own right.

Motion graphic videos are particularly suited to help brands tell their stories and can be mixed with audio voiceovers to drive an action or convey the desired emotion.

Take a look at our video projects here and see how we can help you with your motion graphics requirements.


More coming soon…

Last updated: January 2022.

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