Have you ever visited a website you know you haven't been to before, but it feels like you have?
In this article, we are going to talk about website styling and find out why so many websites end up looking and feeling the same.
Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is one of the three main coding languages of the web. It is responsible for setting how a website looks and feels, ensuring that the styling is applied consistently across all the pages on a site. The stylesheet defines the font, colour, size, weight and line spacing of your text, how much margin and padding to put between elements, how menus and navigations works, animation, and so much more.
When building a brand new website (or template), the developer will need to use a CSS stylesheet to make the site look sexy and easy to use and navigate. They can either write custom CSS or use one of the many available CSS frameworks.
Both approaches have their pros and cons.
For absolute control over how your website looks and feels, then coding custom CSS is a must. A developer can then control every aspect of your website and make it pixel perfect so your new website can fully match your organisation's branding.
- Absolute control over how your website looks and feels, so it can fully match your branding and other marketing material.
- Your site will look and feel unique and distinct.
- Stylesheets can be kept lean, keeping your site fast.
- Can be very time-consuming for developers – The more complex the website and the design, the more time it will take to write and prepare the stylesheet.
- Cost – associated with how much time it takes.
So what is a CSS framework?... in short, it is a predefined library of styles. The idea is, you can import a framework into your new website and use the predefined styles that can quickly and easily make your site look fantastic.
The most popular CSS framework today by far is Bootstrap, which was created by a small team at Twitter. Other popular CSS frameworks include Foundation, Bulma, Materialize, UiKit and Foundation.
Most frameworks are designed to be customised to some extent, but most are opinionated and will limit how far you can go.
- Very quick to implement and make your site look great.
- It can be customised (to an extent) to match your branding.
- Very cheap to implement.
- They are heavily used everywhere, resulting in a vast number of websites all looking and feeling the same.
- Can add unnecessary bloat to your website (because your site will probably only use a small number of the defined styles within a frameworks library), causing it to perform slower.
For us, the vast majority of websites and web apps we build do use a CSS framework of some kind. Yes, taking this approach will result in a site that looks and feels like many others, but if a perfect pixel design isn't essential and/or you are on a tight budget, then it's a no brainer.
However, when a customer does have a particular design in mind and wants it to be unique, we will create a custom stylesheet for their site.