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Introducing Modern HTML and CSS for Designers

Posted on Jun 26, 2013

Original target audience was for developers who had been stuck developing for IE8 or older until the release of IE9 and evergreen browsers.

<table></table>’s have been replaced by <div></div>’s for body layout. This allows for more flexibility in modern browser rendering engines (and uses less memory to compute positioning). Tables are now used for data output (such as charts, grids, raw data, etc).

To style these divs and give them a meaning, there are a variety of HTML styles that can be applied. These are traditionally stored in an external stylesheet inside of the <head></head> HTML tags, ie:

<link rel="style" href="myStylesheet.css">

These stylesheets are composed of selectors. Each selector looks like:

myDiv {
  /* some code in here */

We’ll style the div tags with selectors. Selectors come in three primary varieties: page elements (such as body, a, img), classes (such as <input class="myInput" type="number" />, and IDs (<div id="menu-section"></div>).

Page elements represent HTML tags. For example, you can have a selector that covers the entire page with:

body {
  font-size: 16px;
  color: black;

You can also style your images (<img src="myimage.png">) with:

img {
  border-right: 1px solid black;
  /* there is also border-left, border top, border-bottom */

Or you can style your anchor (<a href="mypage.html">my page</a>) tags:

a {
  color: blue;
a:hover {
  color: purple;

Wait - before we go any further, notice the a:hover selector. Notice the “:hover” - that is called a pseudo selector. :visited and :active on the anchor tag also.

Moving on, there are classes - each CSS class can be added to any HTML tag to give it a specific style. Classes are meant to be re-used. You’ll add them to HTML tags like so:

<input type="text" placeholder="enter your username" class="round-edges" />

We’ll style that class like so:

.round-edges {
  border-radius: 25px;
  border-color: black;

The . preceding the class name denotes that it is a class to the browser when it reads your CSS. Speaking of which, IDs are preceed with “#”; they are also designed to only be used once. You want to use them to specify specific HTML elements. One could be for your header section, another for your menu, another for the content, and perhaps one for a footer? You can always use as many as you want for targetting specific elements. You’ll add an ID like so:

To target this with a CSS selector:

#body-content { font-size: 24px; font-weight: bolder; }

And yes, you can use a class at the same time as an ID. Now, what happens if you both the CSS class and the ID have code that conflict with each other? Consider:

#body-content{ font-size: 20px; } .round-borders { font-size: 24px; border-radius: 25px; }

This is tricky - depending on which CSS selector is declared LAST will be given preferred treatment and their CSS code will be used. So in the above example, the font-size will be 24px because .round-borders is declared AFTER the ID. You can get around this, however. How? Add the !important flag to the end of a declared selector:

#hero {
  font-color: blue !important;
  font-size: 64px !important;
  font-weight: bolder !important;

Whenever the #hero ID is placed somewhere, it will always override the declared style in any other selector that is attached to your HTML element. Consider it your CSS superhero - however, don’t rely on it too much otherwise you’ll end up with hard to maintain code.