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Glossary
Keeping your Web Site Accessible
Web Site Management
Promoting Your Web Site
Using Site-Wide Templates
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Using Site-Wide Templates

Using Site-Wide Templates

The process of managing and updating a web site can very quickly become an unwieldy one. In particular, it can be very time-consuming to change the layout and style of web site when it grows beyond a certain size. However, there is a better solution - Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Style sheets describe how web pages are presented. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has actively promoted the use of style sheets on the Web. W3C has produced two W3C recommendations (CSS1 and CSS2) which are widely, although not consistently, implemented in browsers (for details on browser support, see Webreview's Browser Compatibility Charts). CSS1 provides support for separate style rules which suggest formatting for HTML documents. CSS2 adds layout capabilities, including the incorporation of frames into style sheets.

Why use style sheets?

Style sheets work by separating style and layout from the content of a page. Style rules can be embedded inside a page, but are ideally stored in a separate referenced document: the style sheet. You can change the style rule on the sheet, rather than updating all the pages on the site. This provides you with several advantages:

  • Saves on the time required to maintain a site.
  • Allows you to maintain a standard look for the site, and to update this look when required.
  • Creates web pages that are smaller and faster to download.
  • Makes it easier to adapt your pages for different types of user. For example, blind users could have a special sound-oriented style sheet that specifies speech parameters, intonation, and reader style.
  • Makes it easier to adapt your pages for use with new technologies. For example, set-top Internet boxes such as WebTV could use special style sheets optimised for television layout.

Simply put, style sheets are a much more efficient and reliable way to control the way your web pages appear to users.