Wise Women List Archive File
Advantages and Disadvantages of CSS
I feel like I am asking a ton of CSS questions, but
I'm really torn about whether to jump into them for a
site I have to start implementing (tomorrow). Is
everybody using CSS for professional sites(is it
considered unprofessional to not use them)? I gather
that I still have to designate text and headers, just
with CSS instead of HTML and the time saving comes in
when the client says that they want all headers to be
bigger and then decides that they really liked them
how they were and I just change the one CSS page that
the hundreds of pages are linked to? What are some of
the advantages of using CSS, what are the pitfalls? Do
you create the CSS page before you start the site, or
do you create one page and base the style sheet from
that? Is the learning curve something I should budget
time for, or is it as simple as it sounds?
Thanks for helping me make this decision!
Here is what I have been doing with CSS, and it solves
my problems fairly well. I'm still getting hits from
older browsers and machines (though I suspect some are
spiders) so I have a sort of compromise attitude.
I use it exclusively for formatting text. It works
well in the newer browsers and degrades well enough to
the defaults in the older browsers to be acceptable. I
have tried to eliminate font tags from all my sites,
although some of the older sites are a challenge to
clean up. I also use it for links, background colors,
lists and classes to create various text effects. This
saves tons of time and reduces the filesize of the
What I find less reliable is CSS for positioning. If
you are starting a brand new site and can plan your
content to make sense in an older browser when the
positioning falls apart, it would make using it
acceptable. But I still use tables (sigh) most of the
I appreciate the insight. Thanks!
Jumping in to the site tonight...
I don't think the learning curve is too bad, for what
you get out of it. It's more than just being able to
make changes when people change their mind (although
that's great). It's also just saying in one place that
all of your bullet lists will have orange text, and
then not having to define the text color for the
individual bullet lists!
I believe separate style sheets don't read very well
into Netscape, and so putting a <style></style> area
in the html header was still the best way to go.
I personally really like doing it this way because if
I use Dreamweaver, the style part of my page can be in
the template file, and I can change the color of every
header in a site in half a minute, and I know for sure
I haven't forgotten any headers.
Even coding by hand I think it's pretty easy to just
copy the style area and paste it into all the pages.
But the font sizes are delineated differently - so if
someone is giving you directions (like make the text
size "2", translation is involved).
GOOD REFERENCE SITES:
Webmonkey - Mulder's Stylesheets Tutorial (this one
talks about the benefits of style sheets vs. inline
W3C Style Sheet info page:
University of Miami CSS guide:
I hope that helped!
> What are some of the advantages of using CSS,
As you said; you only have to change one rule to alter
the whole page. Also, you separate structure from
presentation. HTML is not created to make visual
presentation, CSS is. You can do so much more, so much
easier. It will reduce your download time, because you
don't have to fill your HTML with ugly tags like
<font>. It will dramatically clean up your mark-up,
and it will make HTML so much easier to deal with.
In my own website I use XHTML strict and CSS, and
whenever I want to change the design, I just replace
the stylesheet, no need to change to HTML code. (I
dont use tables anymore, I use CSS position. Browsers
without CSS support gets just a clean HTML page).
> what are the pitfalls?
It's the browser support. Actually - it's Netscape
4.*. It has problems with some part of CSS, specially
with margins. I use a 'hack' to solve this problem.
Netscape 4.* doesn't understand id="" in the external
stylesheet link, so it just ignores it. I use two
stylesheets, one for Netscape and one for other
<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css"
<link rel="stylesheet" href="styletwo.css"
Remember that other browsers will read both
stylesheet, so you have to overrule the first one in
the second one.
As for seperate stylesheet and Netscape - thats only
a problem if the stylesheet and the HTML files are in
different folders. This is because Netscape 4.* reads
the url for background-image as relative to the
html-document, insted of relative to the stylesheet.
> Do you create the CSS page before you start the site,
> or do you create one page and base the style sheet from that?
I always implement the text first, put all elements
where they're supposed to be, and then start the
design. I put classes on the elements while I'm
implementing the text, so everything is marked up
correctly. Then I start with all the general rules,
like font-family, background-color aso. After that I
go through page by page and include whatever is
necessary for the specific pages.
> Is the learning curve something I should budget time for,
> or is it as simple as it sounds?
It's is as simple as it sounds, but it also have a lot
more... It's very easy to start with, and you can just
learn whatever you need as you go on. One thing to
remember is the inherit part. Elements will inherit
rules from each other, so be careful with font-size
and tables, or you might end up with very small text
in some browsers!
Designing with HTML is the past - CSS is the present
_and_ the future. The sooner you learn this the
better. It's a fantastic designing tool!
Thanks- looking forward to the possibilities this will allow.