Don't Fear the CSS

05 January

Don't Fear the CSS

I recently had a conversation with a fellow designer in Chicago about the state of the web and and the constantly evolving coding structures. He, as with a lot of web designers out there, has a general fear of CSS if not the simple lack of time to learn new techniques. He is accustomed to using simple image slices and table based layouts but in todays webby world this technique will be the death of you.

CSS and XHTML based sites are easier for search engines to pick up, quicker to load and are more accessible to people with disabilities than any other type of site. Often times image/table based sites are skipped over by search engines as their content is hidden within image files which are not accessible to the disabled let alone the search engine spiders. Old swap_image markup for rollovers is also thing of the past as this this requires the user to download several unnecessary graphics in order to use the navigation. CSS handles this gracefully and quickly.

Also table based sites are slower to load, require much more HTML markup than CSS/XHTML. Speed is key when it comes to web users. The longer the user has to wait for the information the more likely they won't wait at all.

My advice to those out there still afraid of the big bad CSS is to head to Amazon or your local bookstore and pick up a couple books and find some in-house project for which to play with. A couple good ones to start with would be CSS, The Missing Manual by David Sawyer McFalarland and the beautifully illustrated The Zen of CSS Design by Shea and Holtzschlag.

CSS is here and as far as I can tell, it's going to be here for quite a while so take the time to learn it. It may just save your job.

TAGS: Web Development, Web Design