In class for the last several weeks we’ve been focusing on learning HTML, and I’m noticing with frequency that what we are learning is deprecated. I realize that you have to learn the basics before going off on your own. I think about my son and wakeboarding — he learned every single little step before flying, whereas so many people show up and try to go big right away and flounder away.
But I am chopping at the bit to learn and use CSS. I love how much CSS frees up designers to be as creative as they want to be. Designers become artists rather than computer geeks. But the web existed and grew way before CSS, and it functioned just fine. So why use CSS? (Here’s a great article on the subject through A List Apart.)
Obviously, CSS is not completely necessary for web design. But spend some time on the Wayback Machine and see how far your favorite websites have come. What CSS does offer, though, is flexibility, a more open canvas, better usability and accessibility, and out-of-the-box design. There is always the chance of too much of a good thing.
CSS allows the web to naturally evolve, like anything else. I used to be so excited when my dad would bring home long banners of perforated printer paper with my name spelled out or an image of Snoopy made of all S’s. Now, not only do kids have not idea what dot-matrix printing is, they’d laugh at those banners as gifts. Naturally, gradually, publishing has evolved into what it is today. That is the role of CSS now, and it will pave the way for what comes next.