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Inayaili de León is a London-based Portuguese web designer, specialist in cross-browser, semantic HTML and CSS, and clean, functional design. She writes frequently for well-known online and print publications and also on her own web design blog, Web Designer Notebook. In May 2011, she published a book, Pro CSS for High Traffic Websites, and she speaks frequently at local and international web conferences and meetups. She is currently working as a web designer on Canonical's Design team.
Designers hold CSS close to their hearts. It’s just code, but it is also what makes our carefully crafted designs come to life. Thoughtful CSS is CSS that respects our designs, that is handcrafted with precision. The common conception among Web designers is that a good style sheet is created by hand, each curly bracket meticulously placed, each vendor prefix typed in manually.
But how does this tradition fit in a world where the websites and applications that we want to create are becoming increasingly complex? If we look back in history, deep into the Industrial Revolution, we will see a parallel with what will happen with our handcrafted style sheets once the complexity of the products that we want to build becomes too great.
CSS’ barrier to entry is extremely low, mainly due to the nature of its syntax. Being clear and easy to understand, the syntax makes sense even to the inexperienced Web designer. It's so simple, in fact, that you could style a simple CSS-based website within a few hours of learning it.
But this apparent simplicity is deceitful. If after a few hours of work, your perfectly crafted website looks great in Safari, all hell might break loose if you haven’t taken the necessary measures to make it work in Internet Explorer. In a panic, you add hacks and filters where only a few tweaks or a different approach might do. Knowing how to deal with these issues comes with experience, with trial and error and with failing massively and then learning the correct way.
Understanding a few often overlooked concepts is also important. The concepts may be hard to grasp and look boring at first, but understanding them and knowing how to take advantage of them is important.
There has been an increasing and sincere interest in typography on the web over the last few years. Most websites rely on text to convey their messages, so it's not a surprise that text is treated with utmost care. In this article, we'll look at some useful techniques and clever effects that use the power of style sheets and some features of the upcoming CSS Text Level 3 specification, which should give Web designers finer control over text.
Keep in mind that these new properties and techniques are either new or still in the works, and some of the most popular browsers do not yet support them. But we feel it's important that you, as an informed and curious Web designer, know what's around the corner and be able to experiment in your projects.
Everyone has been going on about how we should use CSS3 more and all of the possibilities and flexibility that come with it, but that we should still consider IE6 and other troubling browsers. But how do we actually do that? How do we create websites that are up to date with the latest coding techniques but that are also usable for people experiencing the Web on Internet Explorer?
In this article, we’ll see what measures we can take to provide a good experience for IE users but keep moving on. We will mainly focus on the CSS part but will also provide some handy tips on dealing with overall markup.
CSS is one of the most powerful tools that is available to web designers (if not the most powerful). With it we can completely transform the look of a website in just a couple of minutes, and without even having to touch the markup. But despite the fact that we are all well aware of its usefulness, CSS selectors are still not used to their full potential and we sometimes have the tendency to litter our HTML with excessive and unnecessary classes and ids, divs and spans.
The best way to avoid these plagues spreading in your markup and keep it clean and semantic, is by using more complex CSS selectors, ones that can target specific elements without the need of a class or an id, and by doing that keep our code and our stylesheets flexible.
Cascading Style Sheets were introduced 13 years ago, and the widely adopted CSS 2.1 standard has existed for 11 years now. When we look at websites that were created 11 years ago, it's clear that we are a thousand miles away from that era. It is quite remarkable how much Web development has evolved over the years, in a way we would never have imagined then.
It's time to introduce CSS3 features into our projects and not be afraid to gradually incorporate CSS3 properties and selectors in our style sheets. Making our clients aware of the advantages of CSS3 (and letting older deprecated browsers fade away) is in our power, and we should act on it, especially if it means making websites more flexible and reducing development and maintenance costs.
In this article, we'll look at the advantages of CSS3 and some examples of how Web designers are already using it. By the end, we'll know a bit of what to expect from CSS3 and how we can use its new features in our projects.