CSS is short for ‘Cascading Style Sheets.’ If your weblog is powered by MovableType or TypePad then you already have it. If your weblog is powered by some other blog software you probably don’t have it, although you may. I know that Radio, which is the software that I used for my old weblog did not use it. Now that I have it I notice some major advantages.
First, my current weblog seems to load faster. It definitely renders faster and cleaner on my cellphone’s web-browser, not that I regard that as an important development, but it illustrates (to me at least) that CSS is more efficient. You want your readers to have a nice browsing experience when they come to your site, right?
I could be overstating CSS’s impact on page-loading and if I am I’m sure that someone will clarify that with a comment; I’m just relating my own perceptions.
But I know that CSS is beneficial in one practical way. When I first started this weblog I had a different design (basically I had one that I just grabbed ‘off the shelf’ because I was only trying out TypePad and I didn’t know that I was going to keep using it). If you were to go to a post that I created on the first day that I had TypePad you wouldn’t see the old design though. That’s true even though that post is an ‘archived post’.
With my Radio weblog when a post was archived (i.e. when it rolled off the bottom of the main page) it was fixed with whatever design I had at the time. That’s not what happens with TypePad because it uses CSS. A basic aspect of a weblog that uses CSS is that the design information is stored in a separate file from the content. So when you change your design that change is applied to all content, even the content that is archived. And why might you regard this as a good thing?
Well, let’s say that you have a weblog like this one, which currently has sidebar links to recommended music and books, and has links to certain weblogs. If someone runs a Google search that leads them to an old post (which happens a lot) they are presented with this site’s current design, along with all of the current links and other elements that appear in the sidebar. So, what CSS does is allow this site to have a coherent design scheme that applies to all content, past or present. As the design changes over time (i.e. if I change the color scheme, or change links in the sidebar etc.) these changes are automatically applied to all of the site’s content. And I don’t have to do anything special to make this happen.
In sum, CSS makes a website look clean and coherent, and probably makes webpages load faster for most browsers. From what I understand about CSS it is quite challenging to master, at least for people like me who can barely grok HTML. But the nice thing about TypePad is that I don’t have to know CSS. It’s built in. And this is just one more reason why I like TypePad so much, and why I plan to keep my weblog here.