If you’re about to commission a new website (or update your old website design), then here is one thing you should demand from your “expert” website designer: A CSS based layout web design! Why? Cost effective web design & maintenance benefits, search engine optimisation benefits, accessibility benefits, usability benefits – the list goes on… Read on if you want to save money!
CSS – The Best Way To Build Modern Websites!
You see, websites are “supposed” to be built a certain way. Without getting technical, the look, the graphic design of your website, can and should be easily separated from the presentation (ie your business, company or corporate information). The correct use of CSS allows this. Expert Web Designers are singing from the rooftops about it! Professional SEOs recommend it.
CSS allows you to modify the look of your website design across your entire site without touching any of the “pages” – just editing one file. So think on it, when you have an old site with 100 pages, wouldn’t it be easier to edit just one file to apply a new look, rather than individually modify each and every page on that site? Of course it would be.
CSS is a smarter way to build a website. It’s a cleaner, lighter way. As a search engine optimiser, I recommend all our new client sites are converted to table-less, SEO friendly css.
TABLES – The Old Way To Build Websites!
The problem in recent years has been that, for various reasons, the other way(s) to build your website using, for instance, HTML TABLES were sometimes seen to be an easy way for a designer to get your website looking as close as possible to a new graphic design approved on paper , and to have it looking “the same” on as many different internet browsers as possible.
The problem with this method is that usually, in basic (ie not dynamic) HTML TABLE-based websites, this means that the presentation and content is inter mixed, meaning when you want to change the look of the website you have to change the code of every page. For a search engine optimiser, this can be a a big job.
Unfortunately this was not really the way websites were recommended to be built. Of course it’s not “wrong” to build a site with TABLES, but why should you, as a company owner, accept a tables based layout in 2007? Once a designer is familiar with CSS, websites can be put together quicker and more precisely using CSS, and of course edited easier and faster, once your website is live, so saving your company money in the long term. The correct use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) leads to cost effective website design and cost effective website maintenance – yes! That means cheap website design / site maintenance for your business!
It can mean that next year, when you want to revamp your website design, but keep the content the same with minor changes, this job will be a cost effective, quick and painless process. You see the designer or seo only needs to “fix” one or two files for you, add some new aesthetic and hey presto you have a completely new site. This also means most of the time and money you spend on the site goes into the design side, rather than having the web developer physically go through every page on your site and painstakingly make unneeded edits to web pages that have not been built this way.
The UK Government Recommends:
Use HTML to structure the document, not style it. Use Cascading Style Sheets to format and style basic elements of a website’
Guidelines for UK Government website design
Illustrated handbook for Web management teams
You might ask yourself is this expensive to achieve, this CSS website design, but the answer is an emphatic no! A good website designer, with a good knowledge of W3C recommendations (World Wide Web Consortium – The people who created CSS – and indeed, the leading industry light on standardizing the web), can build you a quality, reliable CSS based website usually reasonably quickly (usually in a few weeks).
Sometimes using TABLES for layout purposes is the sign that your local web developer is not as “cutting edge” as they would have you think! CSS has been around for 10 years – hardly considered “cutting edge” in an environment like the web – but the fact is many designers are still getting to grips with CSS, hence TABLES based websites still pop up!
“In 2006, the World Wide Web Consortium proudly celebrates the ten years of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the technology designers use to create attractive, economical, and flexible Web sites.”
Save Money With CSS
So, remember, demand your website be built using modern CSS! There’s a good chance if your professional web design company is building your website with CSS, that in the long run, it could save you cash! It’ll take the website developer less time to work on your site, meaning less hours spent on your job, meaning you save money. Website maintenance becomes cost effective, and you are no longer held to ransom by unscrupulous web design companies who after all, want to spend hours and hours on your job – and then charge you for it!
Oh, and did we mention, building your site with VALID CSS (ie the code is written properly) can help to make your site more accessible if built to best practices? It’s virtually guaranteed to work for years! It can cut down on download times, too, if used expertly. It can have search engine optimisation benefits too. Google loves quick loading, well formed, easy to read pages, and CSS can really help you achieve this type of Google friendly website. In fact, the benefits are too numerous to mention:
“The design community has confirmed that using CSS promotes beauty while making it easier and less expensive to build sites, ” said Bert Bos, W3C Style Activity Lead and one of the original co-authors of the specification that became CSS level 1, published on 17 December 1996.
So – if you only do one thing, demand CSS for your website layout – even if you are using a website content management system (CMS). Demand Separation of Content from Presentation! Pay less for an expert website design, less for search engine optimisation (seo) – and then reap the rewards in the years to come with a usable, accessible, easier to maintain and professional website for your business.