CSS is an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS allows web designers to have far more control over the way their website is presented by allowing for more flexible formatting of the content on a web page. CSS was developed back in 1997 but have only really become popular in the last few years. This is because, until the year 2000, web browsers were not fully able to take advantage of the capabilities of CSS. All they could to was display the more simple display characteristics offered by CSS but not make use of its power powerful features.
Nowadays, all the major browsers have full support for CSS right up to level three standards and because of this, almost every new website can greatly benefit from the technology.
The days of HTML are fast coming to an end, being replaced by XHTML+CSS layouts which offer a number of advantages and are currently at the cutting edge of web design technology. There are very few websites around today that have absolutely no use of CSS and even fewer that only utilize basic HTML. These days many web designers consider an extensive knowledge of CSS to be of greater benefit and importance than that of HTML. In reality, they are both just as important, but there is no doubt that CSS is something that should not be overlooked.
So what exactly is CSS? CSS was developed so the web designers could better lay out the look and feel of their websites while using HTML only for its originally intended purpose, which is to focus on the underlying coding and mark-up of the website. CSS is responsible for the actual design, appearance and layout of websites which utilize it. Keeping both aspects of web design separate also makes it easier to update and keep track of and design in the first place.
CSS style sheets have been used by many web designers over the years. These style sheets are, put as simply as possible, a list of technical specifications that preside over a certain layout and design of a website. CSS also communicated with the web browser to decide how the final result is rendered for the best possible results. CSS are called cascading style sheets for a specific reason. The nature of CSS is such that they flow through a number of different style sheets. The look and feel of a specific website ultimately depends on the user agent style sheet which is often the default style used by the Internet browser when there is no other set of instructions given to it to render the page.
CSS instructions are intended to render the website concerned in a certain way and web designers embed these instructions into the programming of the site to make sure that the end result is rendered exactly the way they intend without having to worry a great deal about cross-browser compatibility issues. One of the most obvious benefits and characteristics of CSS is fonts. When the Internet was younger and web browsers were far more basic as were websites at the time, the fonts on a specific website would all be the same, since they would be specified by the user settings in the applicable web browser. CSS style sheets override all these default settings, allowing for web designers to set specific fonts, sizes and colours without having to worry about the end result appearing differently or truncated on another viewer’s screen.
The use of CSS is not only extensive, but it has enormous potential and goes far further than just simple font specifications. It can be used for XHTML and XML mark-up which in turn means that it can define the appearance of any website using this type of scripting. Being one of the most useful and powerful tools of web design, every serious web designer should be familiar with CSS as it can have a hugely beneficial impact on your website by making it look unique, attract and cutting edge.