Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Webdesign Tips: CSS Styling And Layouts

There are many ways of improving the accessibility of your web site to the visitors. The most important one is using the external Cascading Style Sheet (CSS), which has the purpose of separating the structure and presentation of your web site.

You can bring the best out of the use of Cascading Style Sheets by making improvements in the structural coding of your HTML pages. HTML elements must be chosen for their functional purpose and not for their default style attributes. The result is that the code is cleaner and more easily to be maintained. One of the advantages of using the Cascading Style Sheets is that the people who experience readability problems caused by the appearance of a page can choose to view it without the style sheet or, if they know what to do, replace it with their own user-defined style sheet. In order to leave them this option available, you must make your styles to allow overriding. This way, the visitors will feel more comfortable with that particular web site.

The style sheets specific to the media can be linked to a site to take care of the differences in its presentation in numerous browsers. In order to determine how the page will sound in a text-to-speech device, you can link a separate style sheet to it. A print style sheet will allow you to correctly display the content in a printer-optimized version of a page, if the visitor wishes to print the page.

The result of choosing to use Cascading Style Sheets is a real simple way to provide alternative styles of the same page content, addressing almost all common readability problems. For instance, you could offer an option to have the text in a larger text size. You can have no guaranty that this will solve all visual problems, but is a quite simple attempt at providing clear and obvious accessibility features. There is not much effort involved, so give it a try!

Think about the time and resource you can save by using the cascading style sheets. Your site will be quicker to download and use. Well, after all these features we have been talking about, most of you will agree that using the cascading style sheets is a very good thing. Nevertheless, we must never forget about the fact that your site must be just as accessible and easily used when the visitor chooses not to use any style at all.

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