Four Tech Terms Everyone Should Know

jargonWe shouldn’t be afraid of technology. Technology amplifies our communications and allows us to reach further and deeper than we could without it.

It allows us to create global communities with shared interests; it allows brands to reach shoppers a thousand miles from their closest store; it allows individuals to interact without bias, discrimination or fear of being different; and it allows us to open dialogues and share ideas with folks we’ll never know in person.

Unfortunately, technical buzzwords and jargon can be intimidating to many people. The techy, geeky language can feel completely foreign, but it doesn’t have to be that way – many of these words and phrases can serve as easy ways to describe complex ideas and convey specialized knowledge that enables our clients to effectively communicate.

To help demystify some of this language for our colleagues and kick-start the next big idea, I’ve put together a list of common concepts, along with what they really mean and why they’re important to us and our clients.

Big Data

  • What it is: Big Data is all about analytics – it’s basically a fancy term for data-driven marketing, which we’ve all been doing for years. Computers and computer storage are finally cheap enough that we can collect and aggregate as much data as we want about almost any subject (shoppers, trends, demographics) and then analyze it.
  • Why it matters: There is a mythical “individual” we are all targeting with our messages and communications; Big Data can help us find that “individual” by analyzing and aggregating data from a variety of sources.

Responsive Design

  • What it is: Responsive design is about reaching the broadest audience possible. It is a design approach focused on providing an optimal user experience, regardless of device.
  • Why it matters: Responsive design allows us to create seamless experiences across desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. It enables the concept of “information anywhere, anytime” by allowing our users to participate in our experience, and consume our message, whenever, wherever and however they want – on their terms.

Information Architecture vs. Design vs. User Experience (UX)

  • What it is: Information architecture refers to the structure and organization of a site, whereas design addresses the look and feel of a site and user experience (UX) addresses the engagement and interaction aspects of a site. These are related disciplines focused on building high-quality experiences.
  • Why it matters: The point of connection between a brand and a user is the user experience. Great UX amplifies and reinforces communication and messaging, while poor UX muddies the message and drives users away. UX is the part the audience directly relates with, but it needs to be supported by good information architecture and design.

Content Management System (CMS)

  • What it is: A Content Management System allows users to publish, edit, and modify content from a simple, central interface. A back-end system like the kind you use with a WordPress or Tumblr account is a good example of a CMS.
  • Why it matters: Vivid and rich storytelling requires a steady flow of great content, and a CMS allows brands to easily manage their content and editorial calendars.

The values and aims of our work as communicators will always remain a constant, but understanding these concepts will help us better serve our clients in today’s marketplace – and prepare us for the new changes that will keep coming as we move into the future.

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Phil Swire, Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy & Technology, leads the strategy and execution efforts of Ketchum Digital’s North America Interactive team. He specializes in digital strategy and customer engagement, with a focus on creating and executing digital, mobile, and social business strategies for clients, with an emphasis on technology innovation.