This is a legacy document, and retained on the site in order to avoid link rot. The content is likely no longer (a) accurate, (b) representative of the views and philosophies of current site management, or (c) up to date.

Web Site Development, by Enhanced Designs

Philosophy of CSS

Toby Brown

Demonstration Pages:

Before CSSAfter CSS

In a recent website review, we recommended adding Cascading Style Sheets to Fab-Tech's product cut-sheet pages. Combined with other changes like using small graphics instead of a single huge one, we showed that it is possible to make Web pages dramatically more accessible and easy-to-use, and, with CSS, more visually attractive.

CSS is easiest to under understand within the context of an understanding of the general demands of World Wide Web publishing. The key issue is the differences between Web publishing and traditional print publishing. Web publishing should not result in a fixed-form media as with print media. Instead, Web media is meant to provide users with an opportunity to access content that is structured with HTML markup so that the logically structured content can be presented in ways that are suitable to variable and highly particular immediate browsing environments, which depend entirely on users preferences. The range extends from corporate websites where visual differentiation and image appeal is of paramount importance to search engine robotics where presentational values are totally ignored in favor of focusing on "text-in-the-page" and the structural aspects of that text. So, again, the Web documents are cross-platform or multi-platform by nature. Instead of being fixed, while the content often remains relatively stable, the presentational aspects have the potential to change spontaneously in accordance with the demands of particular browsing situations.

CSS serve as the emerging non-browser specific standard for adding style and presentational aspects to a website. The actual use of CSS fits into the broader overall orientation of cross-platform authoring . The new standard may catch on if more people understand the nature of the Web, and this advance may be hastened if we continue to see the rapid introduction of non-standard Web browsing agents, Palm-Tops, Web Phones, WebTV Clones. As soon as people understand the difference, CSS will be a big part of their efforts to design multi-platform accessible and usable Web pages.

The "After CSS" page design and CSS are by Liam Quinn.

Tobias C. Brown(
Liam Quinn(

April 27, 1998

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Tobias C. Brown