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Cascading Style Sheets, commonly known as CSS, is an integral part of the modern web development process. It is a highly effective HTML tool that provides easy control over layout and presentation of website pages by separating content from design.
Although CSS was introduced in 1996, it gained mainstream popularity by the early 2000s when popular browsers started supporting its advanced features. The latest version, CSS3, has been available since 1998 and was last updated in September 2008.
Benefits of CSS in Web Development
Improves Website Presentation
The standout advantage of CSS is the added design flexibility and interactivity it brings to web development. Developers have greater control over the layout allowing them to make precise section-wise changes.
As customization through CSS is much easier than plain HTML, web developers are able to create different looks for each page. Complex websites with uniquely presented pages are feasible thanks to CSS.
Makes Updates Easier and Smoother
CSS works by creating rules. These rules are simultaneously applied to multiple elements within the site. Eliminating the repetitive coding style of HTML makes development work faster and less monotonous. Errors are also reduced considerably.
Since the content is completely separated from the design, changes across the website can be implemented all at once. This reduces delivery times and costs of future edits.
Helps Web Pages Load Faster
Improved website loading is an underrated yet important benefit of CSS. Browsers download the CSS rules once and cache them for loading all the pages of a website. It makes browsing the website faster and enhances the overall user experience.
This feature comes in handy in making websites work smoothly at lower internet speeds. Accessibility on low end devices also improves with better loading speeds.
Limitations of CSS Technology
The only major limitation of CSS is that its performance depends largely on browser support. Besides compatibility, all browsers (and their many versions) function differently. So your CSS needs to account for all these variations.
However, in case your CSS styling isn’t fully supported by a browser, people will still be able to experience the HTML functionalities. Therefore, you should always have a well structured HTML along with good CSS.
Difficult to retrofit in old websites
The instinctive reaction after learning the many advantages of CSS is to integrate it into your existing website. Sadly, this isn’t a simple process. CSS style sheets, especially the latest versions, have to be integrated into the HTML code at the ground level and must also be compatible with HTML versions. Retrofitting CSS into older websites is a slow tedious process.
There is also the risk of breaking the old HTML code altogether and thus making the site dead. It’s best to wait till you redesign your website from scratch.
As you can see from above points, the advantages of CSS development outweigh its limitations. It is a very useful web development tool that every programmer must master along with basic HTML.