Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a language used by website developers to isolate website content from a website’s design. Prior to CSS, formatting options like fonts, colors and sizes were coded through HTML tags throughout the markup of a web page in table-based format. A table-based website contains coded HTML tags arranged in rows and columns and the final output resembles an Excel spreadsheet.
Here is the URL for a CSS coding example. http://www.w3schools.com/css/tryit.asp?filename=trycss_color HTML Table-based code examples are at this URL. http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_tables.asp
Current web standards advocate the use of CSS layouts. Redesign changes to the global design are easier because of the centralized style sheet definitions. All pages share a common style sheet promoting website visual consistency. Bandwidth is decreased because of the streamlined code. Saving bandwidth also helps to lower the cost of web hosting services. The separation of website layout and design from page content facilitates search engine optimization.
Other advantages to using CSS layouts rather than table-based ones include accessibility and faster page loads. A CSS coded website is portable and may be accessed on a variety of platforms, browsers and other devices such as PDAs and smartphones. CSS layouts load quickly due to the standardized HTML file size. Many files can share CSS style sheets enabling caching and faster load times.
CSS style sheet layouts enable team members and multiple contributors to open and edit the same external CSS style sheet. This helps the team to save time because each team member won’t have to be briefed on style sheet structure and content. In addition, teams or individual programmers using external CSS files help reduce the amount of table tags in the web pages. Nested table tags are eliminated from the website code. Search engines are drawn to leaner pages with lower HTML/text ratios. Search engine rankings are increased because CSS layouts produce a higher code to content ratio.
CSS style sheets also increase usability and make it easier for individuals to navigate, interact or browse the contents of a website. The web designer is able to develop different style sheets for different media types including a printer-friendly stylesheet that instructs the browser to print by using the file menu. Using CSS style sheets insures that only unique content is loaded on each page reducing the time it takes to download a web page.
Website redesigns are more efficient and less expensive. CSS based designs separate visual data from the content permitting the web designer to make changes in the appearance of a web page. Redesigning a CSS style sheet website takes less time to complete than redesigning the same table based web page. A customer may hire a web designer or developer to redesign the website at an hourly rate. The customer saves money because CSS style sheets are easier to maintain. The number of development hours needed to complete the assignment is reduced.
Employing CSS style sheets facilitates flexibility when inserting items in website pages. The main content is displayed first followed by images. The website is easier to maintain because changes in colors, background images, positioning and fonts are made to CSS files. External CSS style sheets aid in the maintenance of visual consistency throughout the website. CSS gives designers control over elements used in the web pages. It takes three easy steps to change the width, height and background image of every page header. The first step is to open the external CSS style sheet and locate the header on the desired web page. The next step would be to change the background image, width and height property values. Finally, the style sheet is uploaded with the new settings.
CSS based layouts are the only option when it comes to website performance, accessibility, usability, hosting costs and complex layouts. CSS style sheets offer more benefits than table based layouts.