To style or not to style that is the question

As an active web developer. I tend to look into all avenues for enabling me to produce a quality product at a reasonable price.

Some of the things that I stress to clients revolve around making their sites simple, maintainable and consistent in look and feel.

Consistency is a factor that can be easily overlooked, but it really does add to the overall professional look of a site, when you can go from page to page without any jarring changes.

Maintenance is another factor easily overlooked. Lets face it - you will be living with your web site for a while, and as your business changes so will your site. You want to be able to add or change your site in a cost effective manner.

One of the key ways that we accomplish this is though the use of stylesheets. These allow us to abstract a lot of the styling cues away from the HTML into a separate document. The great advantage here is that you do things once, and then in essense re-use them all throughout your site. If you have to add a new page, all of your styling cues are ready and waiting to be applied.

Additionally, if down the road, you want to tweak your styling, then you only really have one place to deal with and the changes are reflected site wide.

Wonderful….

But like everything there is a dark side, and for stylesheets that is trying to use them for too much.

Stylesheets possess incredible power for formatting a web site. All you have to do is go to csszengarden.com to see what I mean. I love what very creative people have done, but would I ever implement a web site like that? - No.

In my humble opinion, those pages break the cardinal rule of being maintainable. Yes - the HTML is simple, but the stylesheets are not. Additionally, the stylesheets are really tailored to one specific page, so I would question their usability for sites with many pages.

Additionally, stylesheets are still not implemented in a consistent fashion across all browsers and by pushing the limits you are much more likely to bump into those oddities.

I know there are people that are writing sites that rely completely on stylesheets for their formatting and that their use is being pushed as the wave of the future. Right now however, I won’t go that far with my clients.

Will that change in the future? - stay tuned

Unfortunatly, due to the activities of a variety of spammers, I’ve had to disallow posting to this log.

Unfortunate, but necessary.

If you have any comments - then email me directly at lee@spinnakersystems.com

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