TechTerms: How Per Christensson Built a Business to Better Communicate and Define Technical Jargon
8.18.17 Online

TechTerms: How Per Christensson Built a Business to Better Communicate and Define Technical Jargon

By: Jessica Sommerfield

The Crunch: As the digital transformation in retail continues, marketing professionals must navigate an ever-expanding glossary of technical terminology to communicate clearly and efficiently. A simple web search may fail to fully define terms for marketing professionals who lack technical experience.  Fortunately, TechTerms, founded by Per Christensson in 2005, provides resources that help break down jargon using real-world examples and simple language. Drawing on his computer science and communication experience, Per creates and updates definitions for seven dictionaries that organize thousands of terms by category and difficulty. Through his websites and mobile apps, Per’s online dictionaries help professionals gain a greater understanding of terms they need to understand to stay ahead in the digital marketplace.

In response to the way consumers prefer to shop, the retail industry continues to shift to digital platforms and more advanced technology. This shift is not only improving the customer experience, it has also transformed the language businesses use to communicate. Acronyms like CRM, CTR, CPA, and others are becoming standard in marketing communication, with new technical buzz words popping up frequently.

For retail marketing professionals with little tech knowledge, this jargon can be a source of frustration and confusion when it comes to communicating with IT — or understanding the newest digital marketing tools and strategies. In some cases, it can also be a source of embarrassment: social media marketing snafus illustrate that even high-profile brands can throw around digital buzz words without understanding when and how to use them.

As they try to fill in the gaps, many marketing professionals turn to web searches to fill in the gaps — only to find even more confusing terminology within a definition. TechTerms, an online dictionary site launched by Per Christensson in 2005, helps keep professionals up to speed on the latest digital terms in their industry.

Collage of TechTerms definitions

The definitions on TechTerms are straightforward and accessible to everyone, regardless of technical knowledge level.

With definitions and explanations that use real-life examples and everyday language for industry specific terminology, TechTerms provides a valuable resource to today’s digital marketing professional.

“You can go to Wikipedia to get a mash-up definition that several people have put together over several years, but it’s usually a circular definition that defines itself from other terms people don’t understand,” said Per, Founder and author of TechTerms. “So, a lot of times, you end up more confused than when you started.”

Retail professionals need to quickly grasp new technical terms to adapt to market changes and avoid embarrassing miscommunication. Which is why TechTerms seeks to be the comprehensive resource that translates technical jargon into relatable terminology.

A Decade of Entrepreneurship Rooted in His Computer Science & Communication Experience

Per has a long history with computer science and communicating with others. He’s a hands-on entrepreneur who runs three websites, manages a small team of content and software developers, and still personally writes the definitions for TechTerms.

“I started using computers before my parents and even some of my friends, so I ended up having to explain to them how things worked and what things were. I think that’s where it all started,” Per said.

Photo of Per Christensson

Per Christensson founded TechTerms to define difficult tech language.

In college, Per majored in both computer science and communication, so creating a website that defines technical terms for the average person was a natural outflow of his interests and abilities.

Although he launched TechTerms in 2005, Per based its dictionary on the glossary of internet and computer terms he’d previously compiled for his very first website in 1999, when internet lingo was still in its infancy.

Per still enjoys being in the trenches and actively involved in running his businesses even as they’ve grown and added more employees.

“I love to focus on TechTerms and the latest technology. Sometimes, I wish that’s all I did, but I’m running a business, too,” Per said. “That balance is something I’m always trying to manage.”

Drawing on his own knowledge and experience, Per has created a resource that, 12 years in, continues to help people navigate old, new, standard, and complex technical terminology.

Resources Break Down Technical Lexicon into Everyday Language

Unlike Wikipedia-type entries, TechTerms’ definitions limit the technical jargon and are written in clear language that anyone can understand. Term entries provide relatable examples and context from everyday life with sufficient background to inform — but not overwhelm — the reader.

When defining simpler terms, such as computer, Per uses a practical approach that draws on his own computer science knowledge.

“My definition would be something that helps people understand maybe why the term computer is used to describe the machine, and what that actually means. I also give different examples of computers from my own knowledge,” Per said. “I’ll leave the history of computing for Wikipedia.”

“With my other content writers, I’ve said, ‘If you don’t understand what you’re writing, don’t publish it. Because if you don’t understand it, the chance of someone else understanding what you wrote is almost zero.’” — Per Christensson, Founder and CEO of TechTerms

For more complex terms, Per thoroughly researches and references reputable sources. If necessary, he’ll even contact the originator of the term. For example, for a complex term like active directory, he’d consult Microsoft resources or even Microsoft itself to ensure he’s giving his audience a definition that’s both accurate and understandable.

“I try to develop an understanding of how something works at the ground level before I explain it. Then I can meet someone where they’re at instead of starting at a high level where they’re lost right out of the gate,” Per said. “With my other content writers, I’ve said, ‘If you don’t understand what you’re writing, don’t publish it. Because if you don’t understand it, the chance of someone else understanding what you wrote is almost zero.’”

TechTerms features a search function for technical terms, but it also allows users to browse regularly updated dictionaries that are divided into seven categories: internet terms, hardware terms, software terms, technical terms, file formats, bits and bytes, and tech acronyms. The most popular among users is the internet terms dictionary.

“Internet is the category that’s on the forefront because it’s changing the most. If you’re in any kind of marketing, internet terms are the most important to know,” Per said.

Screenshot of Internet Terms category

Internet Terms is one of the most popular dictionaries on the site because it receives constant updates.

To make the learning process easier, TechTerms offers both useful and fun resources. A ranking system called the Tech Factor rates the complexity of each term it defines on a scale of 1 to 10. All dictionary entries can be sorted either alphabetically or by this Tech Factor rating. Since a search for one term often leads to another, TechTerms offers a list of related terms with each entry.

For those who want to go deeper, the TechTerms Help Center posts answers to common questions and invites users to ask their own. And, for those who learn best with more engaging formats, the home page features a daily quiz, quiz archive, and featured term of the day.

Besides TechTerms, Per manages two other term definition sites that are useful to marketing professionals. FileInfo is a site dedicated to defining more than 10,000 file extensions and software programs, while SlangIt defines digital slang, acronyms, and emoticons that have become popular across the web, especially on social media channels.

“One thing that’s nice about SlangIt is that you can even search by emoticon, whereas search engines often ignore special characters in search queries,” Per said.

By using his technical internet knowledge and research, and breaking terms down into simple language, contexts, and organizational patterns anyone can understand, Per is helping digital retailers and marketers improve their professional communication skills and make the most of their digital platforms.

From Defining Software Terms to Developing His Own Software

The launch of TechTerms in 2005 was a natural extension of Per’s desire to help others understand the language surrounding technology, and the latest phase of his company’s growth reflects his passion for programming and developing technology.

“With revenue from the business, we’ve been able to develop some software programs that match up with the site. It’s a fun thing to get into because it’s a new industry,” Per said. “We have TechTerms and SlangIt apps for Android and iOS, and with FileInfo, we’ve developed several desktop and Android file viewers.”

From the start, the TechTerms mission has been to create a resource that gives non-technical professionals greater access to the terms and concepts they need to communicate in their industries. With his expansion into software development, Per now offers users both online and mobile tools to accomplish their goals.

As technology evolves, and the retail industry continues to shift to digital channels, TechTerms helps professionals more easily navigate the landscape. By staying up-to-date on emerging terminology, users can thrive in the rapidly changing digital environment.