Kevin Khaw declares his love to CSS …

Interview: timo / 18. Mai 2009 / Tags: , ,

Kevin Khaw

Kevin Khaw is one of many webmasters at Google. He has been developing for the web since 1999. He is also determined to start maintaining an active portfolio and blog about his knowledge of web development.

Why do you love CSS?
What attracted me to web design was the flexibility and power of CSS. Many appreciate its beauty but few understand its composition. CSS provides web designers with an excellent medium to express ideas and a sense of creative style. In many ways, web design is problem solving and CSS enables designers to think of effective ways to communicate content. It also empowers designers to take risks, think creatively, and reduce management overhead by separating content from style.
What drives you crazy when using CSS?
For the obsessive-compulsive in me, producing consistent cross browser designs can be fun and frustrating at the same time. This is especially true when developing for older browsers with inconsistent and incomplete implementations of CSS.

Several of the more advance design techniques like rounded corners, transparency, animation, gradients, shadows, etc. are often complex, hacky, or inefficient to implement. Although CSS 3 is expected to simplify many of these techniques, designers will be faced with the same cross browser design question. Where do designers draw the line in terms of browser support and backward compatibility requirements? It all depends on your target or current audience, and the resources available to support these browsers.

Another emerging trend is next generation mobile web browsing. Just when I started accounting for higher screen resolutions, these mobile web browsers are driving a new trend towards small screen design. Although powerful enough to display full page designs, there is a subtle frustration behind scaled browsing and zooming around pages to view content. To increase usability, many popular sites display strip down versions of design and content. This would require designers to maintain device specific CSS.

Why should people write well structured / semantic markup?
Semantic markup is essential for better dissemination of information over the Internet. Among the many benefits of well structured markup include improved accessibility, readability, maintainability, functionality, plus a slew of other fancy words that end with ‘-y’. In my opinion, good semantic markup is a fine balance between the perception and coherency of content. I learned and continue to learn that creating well structured markup requires developers to master the basic building blocks of the web. It is important to remember that effective and well structure markup is evaluated based on audience comprehension (machine or human) and not on personal preferences.

I found a greater respect for content composition when I started browsing the web without CSS. It challenged me to think of better ways of structuring and presenting content. Well structured markup is often subjective and varies from developer to developer. Fortunately, there are tools to help analyze and validate your markup. When creating well structured markup, I would disable CSS and ask 2 simple questions.

  • Does the content flow logically and naturally?
  • Does the markup efficiently describe and represent the content?

Answer yes and you are on your way to creating well structured / semantic markup.

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Heike Edinger, heike.edinger at gmail.com

Timo Wirth, timo.wirth at gmail.com