HTML was originally designed as a simple way of presenting information, with the aesthetics of a web page being far less important than the content (and largely being left up to the web browser). Of course, now that the web has become as popular as it has, the presentation of your content has become almost critical to a site’s success. CSS is the key presentational technology that is used to design websites.
Benefits of CSS
Another of CSS’s boons is that you define things once, making it far more efficient than defining everything in HTML on every page. This means:
- Pages download faster, sometimes by as much as 50%
- You have to type less code, and your pages are shorter and neater.
- The look of your site is kept consistent throughout all the pages that work off the same stylesheet.
- Updating your design and general site maintenance are made much easier, and errors caused by editing multiple HTML pages occur far less often.
Well-authored CSS also improves the accessibility of web content, allowing access through myriad devices (handheld PDAs for example) and ensuring that web users with disabilities are still able to receive it. It also eliminates the need for browser-specific hacks and tags, which means your site has a better chance of working across all major browsers.
Initially vaguely intimidating, CSS is a well-designed, elegant language. It is hugely important for the future of web design, and has been pivotal in helping designers move away from the problematic, hack-ridden days of presentational HTML tags like , and allowed us to return to using logical, structural elements which make our sites more accessible.