Website Design

When a website is being created, the designer has a choice of putting formatting information like fonts, sizes, colours, spacing, etc on each page of the site, or on a single page. From a design point of view, you want to make sure your website (if you are given a choice) is built so that all the formatting information goes on one page and is used by every page on your website. This is called an external Cascading Style Sheet (external CSS). There are plenty of reasons to make sure your website is built using an external CSS. Reasons to use CSS on a website include:

Consistency of appearance
If each page specified its own font size and format, then it is very likely that some pages will be inconsistent and look out of place when compared to other pages. This looks unprofessional. If all the formatting of your website is controlled by one page, then there is no way for any page to look out of place.

Ease of changes & updates
If every page controlled its own background and font colours and you decided you wanted to change your background colour, then it would have to be changed on every single page of your website. This is time consuming and likely to be expensive. However, if your background and font colours are controlled by an external CSS then one change can instantly affect the entire website. If one of the ways you want to keep your website "fresh" is to change the appearance every 4 months, it would be easy if your site uses an external CSS.

Separates the content from the formatting
This is the whole purpose of using an external CSS. Your pages contain the content and the style sheet controls the appearance. If you want to change what something says, you edit the page. If you want to change how it appears, you change the style sheet.

Faster download
When you view a page that has all the formatting information mixed with content, then a lot of what is being downloaded is formatting information. This information is then downloaded every time a page is viewed. Web browsers treat style sheets differently. When you visit a website using an external style sheet, your computer downloads the style sheet once but uses it for every page viewed on your website. So this means the formatting information does not have to be repeatedly downloaded. This is important, because potential guests do not like to be kept waiting.


  • If you are having a new website built, make sure your designer is familiar with external CSS.

  • If you have an existing website that uses on-page formatting, consider having it converted to CSS the next time you do a makeover or redesign.

  • If you are looking for a new designer, when you look at websites they have built recently be sure to view the source code for the page. It may look confusing but just scan for something that looks like "<font" if you see more than a couple of these, it means they aren't using external CSS or that they aren't using it effectively.

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