Cascading Style Sheets

A Cascading Style Sheet is a text file with markup that can control the appearance of the web pages on a web site. It can be used to separate the appearance of a web page from the contents of the page. It allows the writer to use much cleaner, more readable web page markup. All the pages on this web site get their appearance from a style sheet. Change the style sheet, and you change the appearance of every page.

History of Web Design

Early web sites were just in text. Then images were added. Then people wanted web sites to look fancy, like a poster. That was a problem. If you changed anything much, the web page broke. Much of the effort also went into avoiding bugs in web browsers.

David Siegel's book Creating Killer Web Sites was the first true design book for the Web. It became the best-selling book about the Internet in 1996. It used hacks, invisible images, and tag tricks with tables to make web sites look good. David Siegel ruined the web (read his article – it is good). It utterly destroyed any early attempt at web standards. Luckily anyone can learn web standards now.

Unfortunately, there are still massive problems with the proposed HTML5 and CSS3 web standards, which are not yet a recommendation.

That is one reason I am still using the last of the web standards (XHTML 1.1) to actually become a recommendation, when building this web site on Dreamhost. These XHTML pages are sent correctly as application/xhtml+xml, which breaks all versions of Internet Explorer prior to version 9. This is a Microsoft bug, not my bug.


The Carlyle Gardens Computer Club members mostly use Windows, often on older computers. So for the moment, the web site assumes you have a medium size display. This mean for the moment I can sort of treat the page as a fixed size poster. However we know this easy solution will not continue.

Once the design starts allowing for tiny phone displays, various small tablets, giant displays, and the printed page, the entire design gets a lot more complicated. Hence the need to have very clean markup on the actual web pages, and use CSS only for styling. There will eventually be additional CSS for tablets, for phones, and for printed versions of the pages. Each will make the web site look totally different, however the markup on the web page will remain the same. A long term aim will be to also allow viewers to choose their own appearance for the site.

Internet Explorer Problem

The worst problem for the moment is Windows XP, which many computer club members use. It does not come with a modern web browser. You can not use Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 with Windows XP, however Internet Explorer 9 is the first Microsoft web browser able to cope with modern web design. Technically, IE9 is the first to cope with correctly served XHTML, rather than rejecting it. Luckily all the other modern web browsers will work with Windows XP, so just use Google's Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, or Apple's Safari web browser, or any other modern web browser.


Carlyle Gardens Computer Club does not really have club colours, as far as I know. I decided since it says gardens, I would use green throughout. I grabbed most of the style sheet from a much older one I did for something else. I think the result is rather horribly, overwhelmingly green, which should encourage me to try to come up with a better set of colours eventually. If any artists or designers would like to help come up with a colour scheme, please talk with Eric.


At the moment I am using a very plain set of default type faces. However the intention is to eventually change to much nicer looking type faces. Possible using downloaded fonts as the first choice, if suitable ones are available under Creative Commons license. If any typographers or printers would like to help come up with a typography scheme, please talk with Eric.