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Web Design Fundamentals is a survey of Web design and development techniques and technologies, fundamental concepts, terms, and best practices involved in professional web design. Instructor James Williamson examines popular web development tools, server-side software solutions, content management solutions, and cloud-based software, providing a high-level overview of the world of Web publishing.
Of all the changes HTML has undergone over the last 10 years, one of the most important has been the emphasis on HTML as a semantic language. This means that the language focuses on identifying elements and defining document structure, not on how those elements should be presented or formatted. Presentation markup, such as the font, bold and italic tags, have either been discouraged or deprecated entirely. This separation of presentation from HTML is a conscious decision and one that has had major benefits for web designers.
CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a style sheet language developed to control the presentation of HTML documents. While its early support in browsers lag, now almost all modern browsers offer robust CSS support. As the name implies, Cascading Style Sheets are a collection of formatting rules, usually contained in an external file, that can control a range of pages from a single page to an entire website. The term cascade refers to how the styles are applied to pages.
Styles may be contained in external files, embedded within the head of an HTML document or applied as an inline attribute to page elements. Based on where styles are found, the styles are allowed to overwrite one another when conflicts arise. This creates a cascading order to your styles that allow you to control entire sites through a single CSS file and exercise a granular level of control by applying a smaller set of styles within individual documents. Learning CSS is fairly simple. Take this simple CSS rule. CSS styles are made up of two parts: the selector and the declaration.
The selector here, p, for paragraph, tells the browser which element or elements to style. Based on the selector, this style would change the formatting of all paragraphs site-wide. The declaration enclosed in these curly braces gives the formatting instructions. Here there are three rules. One telling the browser which font to use, which size to render the font and what color to make the paragraph text. All rules are made up of two parts: the property and the value. These are separated by colons and use a semicolon to tell the browser to move on to the next rule.
While the syntax is simple, you will need to learn how to write more specific selectors to exercise a greater amount of control over your page elements. And you also have to learn the various properties and values that you can set for each element. One of the major benefits that CSS brings to web design is to enable highly modular design. By controlling the structure of the document through HTML and the presentation through CSS, you can change one independently of another. You also speed development and site maintenance by controlling the formatting for an entire site through a very small number of CSS files.
Another benefit of this separation of style and structure is the added portability that it brings to your content. Media types can be declared for style sheets, meaning that you can have one set of styles controlling how the document looks on screen, another that controls it when printing and yet another that controls how the content looks on specific mobile devices. As more and more devices consume web content, this standard allows new style sheet media types to control the presentation of your content within that device, all without having to change the structure of your file at all.
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