04/12/2021

IOS KingMan

IOS KingMan

What is CSS? Understanding the coding language that styles a webpage beyond plain text and photos

  • CSS is a programming language that lets you customize the color, font, and layout of an HTML-coded website.
  • CSS adds vibrancy to the online experience because without it, websites would look like identical bland lines of text and images. 
  • There are three distinct CSS styles that you can use when designing your website.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term itself, CSS is a website coding component that any internet user has experienced.

While you may not know exactly what CSS is, it’s something to embrace — CSS immeasurably enriches the online ecosystem.

Here’s everything you should know about how CSS works, its advantages, and why it’s important. 

What is CSS?

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is a coding language used to add colors, layouts, and fonts to a website.

If you were a user in the early stages of the internet, your initial impression of website design may have been quite underwhelming. That’s because CSS wasn’t being used by browsers until 1996.

CSS isn’t the content of a website, but its visual presentation. Think of it this way: CSS is the style, and HTML is the substance.

CSS adds the design elements to a webpage.
Emma Witman/Insider

HTML serves as a site’s foundation by coding all the content you’re there to consume, but without CSS, the website would be only a bare-bones jumble of words and images.

Without CSS, the Insider homepage appears without much stylistic flow.
Emma Witman/Insider

You may also be familiar with JavaScript, the sort of third pillar of website development. Java is a language which — unlike the static style elements added by CSS — allows you to code in complex, interactive content. As far as web design goes though, CSS is the most crucial web development element.

Types of CSS styles

  • Internal CSS: Also known as the “embedded” style, Internal CSS requires coding the CSS < style > tag in the < head > section of each page you’re coding — the style won’t be applied to an entire website. There are advantages though, as you’ll also be creating a self-contained, easily previewable template for sharing.
  • External CSS: This is often considered the easiest method for long-term website maintenance. All your CSS coding is done in a separate CSS file, then applied to any page you want. Site loading times might also benefit from the external style.
  • Inline CSS: This style is slightly more intensive for coders, requiring each individual HTML tag to be styled. This can also be handy for minor changes and quick previews of modifications.

Benefits of CSS

  • The coding language of CSS is straightforward, but customizable to an enormous degree.
  • Formatting via CSS makes websites easier to navigate by placing buttons in logical places that make them more likely to get clicks.
  • CSS can also eliminate having to use as many lines of code, which allows faster page loading.
  • The responsive design elements of CSS make the language suitable for presentation on any size screen, from a mobile phone to a desktop.

Why CSS is important

CSS created a unified standard for designing web pages that makes the process more accessible.

It’s probably best known for its user-friendliness — a coding language that no one has to be intimidated by.

With CSS, an impeccable-looking website can be achieved without hiring an expert coder.