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Cascading Style Sheets- CSS controlled Web Design

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Not so long ago, in the days before CSS controlled web design, font tags* provided a web designer’s only means of formatting an HTML document’s text for presentation within web browsers such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer™, Netscape™ Opera™, Mozilla Firefox, or any of the myriad other browsers out there.

The trouble with font tags was that they were not only notoriously unreliable for presenting any given piece of information in the way initially intended by its author; they also bloated file sizes to almost insupportable proportions.

In fact, even the text size setting of a browser could make a page’s content overlap or become unreadable in some other shape or form.

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However, there’s a new sheriff in town; CSS controlled Web Design.

Although CSS was originally conceived way back in 1994, and has been a W3C recommendation since 1998, it has only gained any real degree of popularity during the past few years (since about 2003, if you happen to be reading this at some point in the future).

The notion behind CSS controlled web design is to take the formatting work away from an HTML document, and place it in a central file which controls the layout and appearance of an entire website. This concept, however, has since grown well beyond its original intent (you may wish to look out for future articles on CSS controlled ‘no table’ design’).

With CSS, content can be presented uniformly, regardless of browser platform.

And while this has of course helped to turn the Internet into a much more beautiful (or at least uniform) place, another fortunate side-effect of CSS controlled web design is the dramatic reduction in the physical size of HTML documents. Whereas before, font tags were scattered throughout a web page's code, substantially increasing file sizes of individual documents, and generally making a nuisance of themselves, the application of CSS can be likened to an HTML fitness regime. Code which previously looked, figuratively speaking of course, like John Candy (anyone here old enough to remember him?) now looks more like Arnold Schwarzenegger, a lean, mean hombre who would think nothing of going to South America and kicking some butt.

Given the many obvious advantages of this particular technique, it is actually very difficult to overemphasise the need for CSS controlled web design to any novice web designer

So much more than smaller files...

Aside from lower file sizes, infinitely more search engine spider friendly code, and consistent presentation to visitors, there is also the substantial lowering of the designer’s workload to be considered. He or she no longer needs to manually define each individual snippet of content to get it looking ‘just so’, but instead is able to rely on the style sheet’s properties to control a page’s appearance from behind the scenes.

If you have not yet begun to use CSS in your day to day web design activities, it is high time you inform yourself about this fantastic design tool. You can start learning or find out more at the W3School CSS Tutorial.

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* As any competent web designer will tell you, font tags are pure, unadulterated, distilled evil.

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