In the old days of website design, everything was done with HTML. If you’ve been coding a long time, you probably remember those websites: clunky, laid out with tables, and tedious to code and update. The worst part was that each element needed to be styled on an individual basis.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) changed all of that. As their name suggests, they coded for styles that “cascaded” down the page, from the overall layout and background to the nitty-gritty of the bullets in your bulleted lists. Often housed in a separate file, CSS was able to swiftly style all HTML elements of a webpage. And if you decided you wanted to change the font or color, that was easy to do with a one-line change to your stylesheet.
CSS certainly transformed the way we built websites. But it’s important for a number of reasons.
Flexibility for Different Formats
Because CSS operates on a rules basis and is (usually) stored separately from the content, it can change the look and feel of a web- page depending on the device and platform on which it’s being displayed. In an age when people are accessing websites on de- vices of multiple sizes and modalities, that’s crucial to helping your website reach its widest possible audience.
Better for Accessibility
Many users who are visually impaired use devices such as screen readers or Braille-based tools to navigate webpages. CSS makes webpages friendlier to these technologies by separating the format from the content, essentially “decluttering” the online document that accessibility tools need to “read.” That can lead to a better experience for users with disabilities.
Efficiency and Speed
Storing style information in a separate location not only helps you update your styles consistently across pages, but it also reduces page load times. Shorter webpages that aren’t filled with styling HTML are quicker to transfer over the network. Plus, browsers are able to cache stylesheets, which makes it easier for return visitors to load your site.
The Beauty of CSS
Most of all, CSS facilitates the consistent delivery of accessible websites across platforms. It’s an ideal way to keep your content and design separate, and this approach is now standard for many websites that use a content management system (CMS) to serve con- tent. Therefore, it’s worth your time and investment to hire a talented web designer who can write beautiful CSS for your website.