Wandering Thoughts archives


A hairshirt too far: on always avoiding CSS

Recently I wound up reading the Webless initiative (via), which advocates a very strict CSS-less sort of web design. To coin a phrase, I think that this is a hairshirt too far; not only does it make it harder to create good web pages, but it can damage the web viewing experience for your visitors.

First, I think that it's clear that 'graphics', broadly interpreted, are superior to plain monospaced text even for text content, as they allow you to do important but subtle things that increase readability and usability. This starts with proportionally spaced fonts, but good graphics design goes further than that; for example, I hope that everyone agrees that a table in a graphical web browser, with borders and so on, is more readable than a table rendered in ASCII.

Once we accept graphics at all on the web, the remaining question is about the best way to implement them. While I am no fan of CSS in general, my own experience is that CSS can be the best way to implement various useful graphical effects, and sometimes it is the only way to achieve certain things; there are worthwhile things that you can do in CSS that have no equivalent in even presentational HTML.

(The best of these are subtle effects. Good design is often invisible.)

And yes, my ox is a little gored here because WanderingThoughts does use CSS for some things. For some of them it was the easiest or best way to achieve certain results; for others (eg), it was the only way to get what I wanted.

web/HairshirtTooFar written at 00:39:59; Add Comment

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