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Customizing Styles: User-Controlled Style Sheets, part 1


Giving your visitors more control over how they see your website makes for a very user-friendly experience. If you get a lot of visually impaired Web surfers, you might want to set up a "switcher" to allow them to switch between the default version and a high-contrast version of your website. In this first of a three-part article series, Alejandro Gervasio explains a couple of simple ways to set this up.

Author Info:
By: Alejandro Gervasio
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 17
April 06, 2005
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Customizing Styles: User-Controlled Style Sheets, part 1
  2. · There's an ID out there: changing styles by ID
  3. · What's your name? Changing styles by tag name
  4. · Flexible style changes: keeping it maintainable with CSS
  5. · The real style switcher

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Customizing Styles: User-Controlled Style Sheets, part 1
(Page 1 of 5 )

Introduction

As websites progressively evolved from simple static text-based linked documents to highly complex and sophisticated dynamic applications, we've all been witnesses and creators of some kind of computer-dependant artwork, focused primarily on delivering content with a combination of two essential factors: efficiency and elegant visual presentation.

While this evolution process has been quite painful and certainly not always headed in the right direction, the overall result is pretty satisfactory. Now, we have fast, powerful database-driven sites, which offer huge amounts of packaged data to more and more demanding visitors, delighting them with customized user interfaces, customized contents, customized designs, and even customized bugs.

But that's fine, don't you think? After all, we're not cold impersonal machines. We're individuals! And we really need to enjoy some personal touches, including those that we see every day in many websites. In fact, the other day I saw a site promoting a "customized" alien abduction experience. Huh? It sounded very intriguing to me! I promise I'll find out more and tell you about it...if "they" ever let me come backů

In the meantime, on the Earth, conscientious Web developers hopefully have realized that users need a high degree of personalization when surfing a site, particularly people who have serious visual impairment. Visitors with this kind of problem can read Web pages, but may need high-contrast displayed documents and large font typefaces in order to do so. So, in a valid attempt to increase a site's accessibility and perhaps usability, we might try allowing users to change the styles of Web page elements, as an add-on to accessibility tools already present in today's browsers.

Yes, I know you're busy with important things (maybe trying to get a high score in DOOM 3), but the challenge is promising; I mean it. Just take a short time to read the next few lines and see how easy it is to let users choose their favorite page style. Are you with me? Fine, we're together in this mission!


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