Mastering the art of writing CSS code that is both readable and efficient demands practice and expertise. One must have a deep understanding of all CSS properties, values, elements, and attributes to ensure that their code is intelligible and complies with the standards of the language. Though it takes time and commitment, the investment pays off in the long-term.
In the professional world, software developers are seldom given the opportunity to build something entirely from scratch. More often than not, their role entails improving and refining existing projects and applications, which requires a thorough understanding of the codebase. This is particularly challenging for novice coders, as they must devote significant time investigating the existing code before making any headway. Regrettably, the process can be considerably more time-consuming if the original code was written without clear, uniform coding conventions.
Although CSS coding can be intricate, it is vital to be familiar with the fundamentals to write high-quality code. Industry specialists recommend starting with these essential aspects:
Principles to create efficient, superior CSS code
Design a strategy beforehand.
In the design process, using a CSS framework can substantially decrease development time, making it a favoured option for many designers. Additionally, some designers prefer formulating their own custom framework, guaranteeing consistency across all their projects and a uniform design style throughout their work.
While only individuals familiar with HTML and CSS coding should proceed to this stage, there will be times when it becomes necessary to create a design from scratch. In such scenarios, even a rudimentary knowledge of CSS can prove to be incredibly valuable.
Some designers consider using a CSS reset as a waste of time. However, starting with a clean slate and creating the website’s foundation can be immensely beneficial, resulting in more consistent outcomes for the final layout.
This process replaces the browser’s predefined formatting. One may choose to use a pre-existing reset, a custom reset, or a combination of both.
Uniformity is crucial.
For any web designer, it is crucial to write CSS code for HTML and appropriately add attributes. However, uniformity is paramount. While some designers opt to list properties alphabetically for convenience and efficiency, others choose a more systematic approach by grouping properties based on their nature or arranging them in a logical sequence. There is no single correct method of organising your code, but it is imperative to maintain orderliness, as this makes it easier to locate what you require in the future.
One may develop their own CSS dialect with pre-defined naming conventions if desired. It may be possible to create similar classes for numerous groups, using the same name for all of them.
Creating high-quality Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) requires legible code. Composing code in an orderly and readable style ensures easy future management and allows swift identification of individual elements within the code.
Avoid using the !important tag.
Although the “!important” tag can be useful for designers, it is frequently utilised as the final option when things do not appear as intended. In fact, there are only a limited number of circumstances where this tag is truly essential.
Frequent use of !important initiates a chain reaction that can rapidly become difficult to manage.
This is typically the result of an erroneous CSS directive, and developers are responsible for correcting it. Instead, this tag provides more information than necessary to many users. In order to ensure consistency, the browser must be instructed to apply the rule uniformly. Since CSS rules vary from selector to selector or from parent to child, the outcome is undesirable.
It is highly recommended that the !important tag should be avoided whenever feasible, as it may lead to a cascade of inserting multiple tags throughout the code, resulting in difficulties in maintaining the code in the future. Modifying a single !important tag may necessitate adding another, which could have far-reaching implications for the entire project.
Keep it DRY
The Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) philosophy is relevant to software development in any language, including HTML/CSS. It promotes the reduction of code duplication and maximisation of efficiency. To grasp this concept better, we can examine it with the use of an example. For instance, one can refer to the books every software developer ought to read about TypeScript.
Without adhering to the DRY principle, we would need to create three CSS classes for three buttons.
Effective utilisation of CSS abbreviations
CSS shorthand can be a valuable technique for saving space in the code, as it enables multiple attributes of an element to be set in a single line. This approach can also enhance the loading time of the entire code, making it an attractive choice for project development. However, one should restrict the use of shorthand as too much of it can lead to a cluttered and disordered code output that is inefficient.
For minor modifications or overriding attributes, it is advantageous to use longhand. The use of abbreviated code throughout could result in disregarded attributes being reset, leading to unintended consequences.
Utilise multiple stylesheets
Depending on the size and complexity of the website, breaking down the task of developing the style sheet into multiple smaller sheets could be advantageous. Furthermore, for web pages that are not essential, it is possible to exclude the utilisation of CSS, which can help to simplify website management.
Although many designers initially employ the practice of dividing files, the vast majority eventually merge all their files into a single primary document. By doing so, the user only needs to generate one HTTP request, and the entire file can be saved in the browser’s cache for future use.
Increase the spacing between each element
Older web browsers often present web pages differently than newer versions. Therefore, in order to preserve a consistent display of the page, padding and margins of each element must be adjusted based on the browser version.
As an illustration, the display of a file can differ based on the version of Internet Explorer used. Additionally, the rendering of components on Internet Explorer may differ from that of Chrome and Firefox browsers.
To ensure a uniform appearance of all elements on the page, it is advisable to explicitly specify the padding and margin of each element, even if a reset has already been executed. For a universal reset that sets all unspecified elements to zero margins and padding, please follow the steps provided below.
Avoid adding extra selectors
Designers tend to incorporate unneeded selectors into their stylesheets, especially with lists, which can produce bloated code that is hard to maintain and can have performance consequences. Hence, it is essential to ensure that any added selectors to a stylesheet are necessary and have a specific purpose.
Make optimal use of lists
A list is a convenient way to showcase data since it offers a well-organised and easily adaptable output. The addition of a text attribute to the list’s display property is discretionary and can be chosen based on the desired outcome.
In addition to being useful for presenting data, list-to-list elements are extremely effective for creating menus and other similar components. If you are new to exploring the potential of data organisation, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with the functionalities and capabilities of list-to-list elements.
Include various kinds
To enhance understanding of the CSS code, it is recommended to assign multiple classes to one element. Let us explain this with a specific example.
In this situation, the objective is to have the leftmost box floated in a div. Since there is already a class called `.left` in the CSS code that floats all elements to the left, an extra class must be added to attain the desired outcome.
This technique allows the combination of multiple classes into a single declaration. In such cases, it is important to assess the effects of each class independently. To streamline the design process, class names should be chosen thoughtfully to convey their impact. For ease of use, it is recommended to avoid class names that necessitate frequent switching between the CSS and HTML editors.
With just a few minor modifications to your CSS code, you might notice a substantial improvement. We suggest you try these simple techniques to see whether they assist you in creating a more organised and understandable CSS.