We’ve all heard the name jQuery.  However, for those non-programmers, non-computer geeks, and non web page designers the term just sounds like computer jargon.  So, what exactly is jQuery?

In my research online, it was challenging to find information on jQuery that was readable for non-programmers.  One way of understanding the logistics of jQuery, without having to know the intricate details of coding and HTML, is through metaphors.   Jason Long, CEO of J House Media, illustrated jQuery through one such metaphor that was much more understandable for the non-programmer mind.

“When you answer a phone, you have to know that when a phone rings that it means somebody is calling” says Long. “You have to know how to pick up the phone, you have to know how to talk, you have to know how to greet somebody, and you have to know how to have a conversation with somebody.  This prior knowledge is your framework for knowing how to answer the phone.  If you didn’t have this framework, you would be thoroughly confused when a telephone started ringing.  Having this framework enables you to maximize your efficiency on the phone.  jQuery is the same idea, you have to have this framework to tell the site what to do.”

In other words, jQuery is a toolkit that allows designers to create interaction and animation on a website – the behind the scenes work so to speak.

You now have a general understanding of what jQuery is, but why would you use jQuery over the other tools in the tool-kit?  Using jQuery enables rollovers, animation and interactions with the page once the page has loaded.  Although there are a multitude of finer details involved, the basic function is that jQuery allows you to add functions to a webpage.  jQuery simply allows you to do more – whether that be through animation, roll-overs or other enhancers.

Out of the many possible tools to use, jQuery is an excellent choice because it not only makes programming simpler for the programmer, but it has advantages to the end user.  jQuery does all the heavy lifting of coding and deciding which browser you’re working with.  Basically, it adjusts itself to working with whatever browser being used – whether that be a version of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, a mobile browser, tablet browser, or the many other browsers that are available.  Essentially, jQuery says “Don’t worry about what browser you’re using, I’ll figure it out.”

If the non-programmer wants to know the basic advantage of jQuery, it is simply that jQuery enables you to have more interactivity on a webpage with less development time and less development costs.  For those who don’t need to get into the nitty gritty coding details, jQuery makes things simpler, for programmers and users, alike.