© Copyright 2003 by BasicTips.com, division of BasicTemplates.com
When you use "external" CSS (cascading
style sheets) to control the basic cosmetics of your web site,
you need only to edit those cosmetic properties in one file to
update ALL of your web site's pages. This can be done from your
server *if* your hosting service allows you to edit your site
from a control panel, or you can edit the style sheet using a
text editor on your system and upload it to your server.
Cosmetic properties are defined as characteristics that do not
interfere with your visitors' navigational experience. Not all
CSS properties are safely compatible with all browsers, so you
must be careful what properties you use. You do not want to negatively
effect your visitors' experience at your site. Obviously, if your
visitor is using an older version of Netscape to surf your site,
and you have colored scrolls bars which do not display in Netscape,
that would be considered a safe, cosmetic property. This is because
the visitor using this old browser does not know the scrollbars
are displayed in a different color if they were viewing your site
with MIE, for example. This does not effect their navigation through
your site. If it did, we would not consider it a safe, cosmetic
In essence, based on what I described above, using external CSS
makes maintenance to your site's cosmetic appearance quite easy
to maintain site-wide. Recently, we updated the appearance of
our entire site, BasicTemplates.com,
by changing the font-family and size. If you have been to our
site before and have viewed it now, you will find this a refreshing
new appearance. Feedback poured in about how much our visitors
enjoyed the "new look". A few folks even remarked about how time
consuming the change must have been since our site is so large.
Honestly though the change took less than 10 minutes and most
of that time was spent checking our pages to be sure that everything
was displaying correctly. How did we do it so fast?
We simply opened our external .css file into our favorite text
Pro (Windows Notepad works fine too and its free!), and changed
the font-family name and size. We saved it, and then uploaded
that file to our server. Every page was magically changed with
the newly formatted text. If you are using
our templates, this would be a fun project to try on your
own web site. If you don't like the new look, you can easily change
it back within seconds. That's the beauty of using external CSS.
But that's not the only reason you should use external CSS in
your web site's design. Search engines love external CSS too!
Search engines can spider your site faster, because they do not
have wade through all that unnecessary, redundant HTML code. External
CSS separates your page content (the information on your site
that your visitors come to read) from it's cosmetic appearance.
You can even use
CSS to create buttons rather than using images and rollover
images which increases your page load time.
Another excellent reason to use external CSS is that it reduces
the risk of coding errors. Seriously. You have one external file
that contains your code; unless you are using advanced
techniques of CSS with multiple style sheets. This code cosmetically
formats your pages. If you didn't use external CSS, you have a
higher chance of coding errors that trips the search engines.
If you make a mistake in your external CSS file, no problem. Just
open it into a text editor, correct the bad code, save it, re-upload
it to your server. Now all of your pages reflect the change.
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