|The 10 Best
Resources for CSS
By Mark Daoust (c) 2005
If you have been paying attention, you certainly have noticed an increasing
number of websites that are employing CSS and an increasing number of
resources talking about how great CSS is. If you have not yet jumped
on the CSS bandwagon, you may want to consider doing so immediately.
CSS has many different benefits for website owners. The most obvious
is the pure, raw design capabilities CSS brings to websites. CSS can
control everything from the size of your font to the very layout of your
page. A site designed with proper HTML and CSS can avoid incorporating
almost any design elements into the actual HTML. This means a website
owner can change the entire look of their whole site without changing
a single HTML page. For owners of sites with dynamic content or sites
that have a lot of content (blogs, forums, stores, etc), this becomes
a huge time saver.
CSS also allows a website owner to build their HTML in a nice, logical
order. Often when using tables to layout a website, the HTML that powers
the website is not laid out in a logical order (this is referred to
as the 'code flow'). This can hurt website owners in two ways. The first,
and more important way, is to recognize that not everyone who uses the
Internet is viewing your website through a visual browser such as Internet
Explorer or Firefox. There are a whole group of people who are viewing
websites using web readers and other tools which rely on well-organized
code. Secondly, a well-organized website can actually help your search
engine rankings. When a spider discovers a page that is well organized
and not filled with a lot of extra HTML code, it can determine more
accurately and quickly what that page is really about. Let's face it,
we all want to help the spiders, right?
It is in the spirit of CSS that this article is written. There are
hundreds of websites offering CSS tutorials, CSS examples, competitions,
and showcases. There may be some that we are not aware of which are not
displayed hëre, and if so, we encourage you to let us know in the Site
With that said, we must offer a word of warning before going to any
of these websites. These sites can become very addicting if you enjoy
web design in the slightest way. Some of these sites link to literally
hundreds of other sites which will catch your interest.
Now that the warning has been issued, we present to you a list of our
favorite CSS websites.
If you have any doubts over how powerful CSS really is, then you need
to visit CSS Zen Garden. CSS Zen Garden is a display of the power and
beauty of CSS. The concept is simple: see how many ways designers can
take the exact same HTML code and produce completely different looking
pages. As you browse through the various designs, you will find that
the only thing changing the way each page looks is the CSS file. The
HTML is exactly the same.
CSS Zen Garden is a great showcase of creativity and technical expertise.
It is also important to point out that CSS Zen Garden does not use any
tables for their layout. Everything is done in pure, simple HTML and
The Web Developer's Network
Any of the sites that make our favorites list are certainly listed on
this extensive resource page. Be warned, this page has so many resources
listed it is easy to get lost for hours exploring them. Some of the
resources are just fun to explore while others offer some very practical
advice on practical matters.
The page is not limited to CSS resources, but also delves into areas
of good website design and creativity, along with anything else you could
possibly want for your design needs. Our only criticism of this site
is that it might be too extensive to find a specific tutorial or help
Official Cascading Style Sheets Level 2 Specification
This is the place where it all starts if you want to learn CSS. Hëre
you will find the official documentation on how to use CSS and what CSS
is used for. Many novice website owners are scared away from this site
because it is written in very technical language and they fear that they
will not be able to understand it. If you feel this way, be careful not
to sell yourself short. The specifications are actually much easier if
you know how to read them.
When going over this document, keep in mind a few things. First, CSS
was built for more than just the Internet. CSS can be used in print media
and broadcast media as well. So when you are reading some of the instructions
in the official manual you may find some aspects that do not apply to
what you are doing. Secondly, do not worry if you do not understand a
certain chapter or bit of information. The trick to learning CSS is to
get a basic understanding of it first, then practice, then go back and
re-read what you have already read (things will make a bit more sense
this time around), then practice, then go back and re-read again, and
so on. Every time you practice what you learned and go back to re-read
some of the specifications, it will make more and more sense to you.
As a point of reference, if you want to just go over the most important
chapters in the manual, be sure to read these chapters: Chapters 8-12,
14-18, and 4-6.
the Ground Up
Ok, so you have tried the official manual and it is just too difficult
to understand. That is fine. There is a lot of information included in
the manual, and they certainly do not work at entertaining you with the
manual. If you want a bare bones tutorial on CSS, the people from Web
Page Design for Designers have put together a pretty good basic tutorial
which should get you started on your first CSS pages.
One thing you will learn as you begin to work with CSS powered layouts
is that lists are extremely powerful tools. Lists are a vital part of
building a website with good code flow. Getting lists to appear correctly
in different browsers, or to appear in new, original ways, however,
can be quite challenging.
Listamatic offers several examples of lists that use simple CSS. The
examples cover nearly everything that you could possibly hope to achieve
from an HTML list. Of course, if you are working with a nested list,
they have examples of those as well.
This site offers a little bit of everything. They offer a great gallery
for you to stop by and gawk at, as well as a number of resources on
everything from lists to building layouts that do not use tables. Definitely
a good overall resource on CSS.
CSS Layout Techniques
No CSS guide would be complete if we did not address the issue of building
a layout that does not use tables. This is certainly the most challenging
aspect of CSS, learning how to build a nice layout. The people over
at Glish.com have put together examples of several different types of
layouts. They may not offer every layout you could possibly use, but
looking over their guides will certainly help you learn different techniques
to learning how to layout your page.
There really cannot be enough resources on how to work with layouts using
CSS. Ruthsarian Layouts offers several very good examples of popular
And yet again, we offer another site dedicated to learning layouts and
the little quirks that each browser brings into your CSS design. This
site may just have the most information on position with CSS than any
This is another site that goes a bit beyond CSS and into some other aspects
of design, but still offers so much to learn from that it is highly
worth putting in your favorites file. Included in this site is an impressive
gallery, some forums, a collection of bullets that you can use on your
site (where has this been for the past several years?), and a great
collection of resources.
Using These Resources to Learn
Whether you are a code junkie or are a person who relies on FrontPage
to do all of your design, moving in the direction of CSS and properly
formatted HTML is the future of the Internet. For many, beginning the
process of learning CSS may seem like a useless and overly-difficult
venture. However, if you are responsible for the look and feel of your
website you should begin to explore this technology which is being used
more and more.
The best way to learn CSS is to start using it. Experiment with different
parts of CSS. Try and accomplish different tricks that you have nevër
done before. If you have nevër created a page without tables, try
and do so today. If you have nevër worked with a list to format
it in a completely different manner, experiment with that. Browse through
some of the sites in the many different gallerïes offered to us
and get inspired. Use these sites and these resources to imagine what
your website could look like.
Your website is your salës pitch to your visitors. When they arrive
at your website, it should be your goal to present to them the best looking
page you can possibly provide. A well designed page will provide your
users with the comfort that you are invested in your business, and you
will be invested in them as a customer and visitor.
The Internet is a rapidly changing environment, with new technology
and new tools being made available to enhance your site every day, and
thus enhance your visitor's experience. It is your responsibility to
make sure that your website sells, and that requires using the modern
and powerful technologies that are available to us.
About The Author
Mark Daoust is the owner of Site Reference and TowerSearch. You are frëe
to use this article on your website as long as you make all the links
active and include this resource box.