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Adding Style

Adding styling

Now that we have the basic structure of our page we can start to apply styling to the page. The goal here is to turn the plain page with the browser's default style into something that looks much more like our original mockup.

HTML is the skeleton, CSS is the skin

To use an analogy, our HTML is like the skeleton of our body. It provides the foundation but does not make us look like who we are. For that, we need CSS to apply style to this skeleton.

Return of the blank page problem

When starting to style a page we find that we may have the same question about how to get started. Here we suggest again starting at the top of the page and move down through the content.

As we are moving down through the page we may not make every element perfect but perhaps iterate through the page several times. Starting with broad styles such as margins and padding, and then refining our style with features such as box shadows and colors.

Starting with the font and main background and text colors

Noticing there is a specific font choice for the page we can incorporate that at the start of our CSS file.

@import url('https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Calistoga&family=Lato:wght@400;700&display=swap');

We also notice that the background color of our page is not the default bright white, but a more muted version. We also notice that the text color is not a solid black, but a slightly lighter shade.

To apply our font choice and colors across all elements we will add this to our body style:

font-family: 'Lato', sans-serif;
background-color: #eee5e9;
color: #2b303a;

Normalizing things

We noticed that even with our plain HTML that the browser carries some styling of elements. Paragraphs have a default margin, h1 through h6 have varying font sizes. You may also notice that different browsers have slight variations in these styles.

To work around these variations developers have shared some CSS files that normalize the styles between browsers. These settings are shared for us to use. The project we will use to normalize CSS between browsers has this to say:

Normalize.css makes browsers render all elements more consistently and in line with modern standards. It precisely targets only the styles that need normalizing.

To use this we add this line to the beginning of our CSS file:

@import url('https://necolas.github.io/normalize.css/latest/normalize.css');

The header and footer have their own background and text color. They also have a slight padding to them. Since we used the header and footer elements to enclose these we can apply this CSS.

header,
footer {
background-color: #2b303a;
color: #eee5e9;
padding: 0.5rem;
}

We also turn the navigation elements in the header into links. Since we don't yet have a destination for these links we'll use the placeholder # which will refer to the current page.

<li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Our Animals</a></li>
<li><a href="#">Blog</a></li>
<li><a href="#">About</a></li>

Main section indent

We notice on the mockup that the part of the page that isn't the header or the footer is slightly indented.

To achieve this, let's wrap this part of the page in a <main> tag. That is, our body will only have three child elements, header, main, and footer with all the other content contained within.

Once we do this we can apply some minor styling to the main element.

main {
padding: 0.5rem;
}

Lord Vader Former Handle Anakin -- or Lord Voldemort Fears Hogwarts Alumni

Looking at the details of the page we want to style the links of the page. We will apply psuedo-selector styling to the <a> elements of the page. That is we will format the:

  • Link
  • Visited
  • Focused
  • Hover
  • Active

attributes of these links. As CSS order is important we will ensure that we define them in this order. Thus the mnemonic above to help us to remember all of the pseudo-selectors and their proper order.

Here we add text-decoration and color to indicate visual styling and colors for links. We also define a slightly different style for links in the header.

a:link,
a:visited {
text-decoration: none;
color: #d64933;
}
a:focus,
a:hover {
text-decoration: underline;
}
header a:link,
header a:visited {
color: #92dce5;
}

Lists

We are using lists in a few places and need to remove the standard styling queues the browser provides. We also notice that the text in the header is always in uppercase and we can apply a text transformation to ensure that is always true.

ul {
padding: 0;
list-style: none;
}
header li {
text-transform: uppercase;
}

Headers

Looking at the various headers in the application we notice that they apply a slightly different font choice and weight. They also lack the margin the default browser is applying.

h1,
h2,
h3,
h4,
h5,
h6 {
font-family: 'Calistoga', serif;
font-weight: 400;
margin: 0;
}

Styling the blog article

The blog articles contain specific styling so we can apply those

article {
background-color: #ffffffdd;
border-radius: 0.25rem;
padding: 0.5rem;
margin: 0.5rem auto;
box-shadow: 2px 2px 0.5rem #7c7c7c;
}
article h3 {
margin: 0 auto 0.5rem;
}
article p {
font-size: 0.75rem;
margin: 0.5rem 0 0 0;
}

Let's apply some styling to the labels in the footer

label {
display: block;
text-transform: uppercase;
font-weight: bold;
font-size: 0.75rem;
letter-spacing: 0.05rem;
color: #7c7c7c;
}

By making the labels into display: block we allow them to fill the line they are on. We transform them into uppercase, apply a bold weight, make the text slightly smaller, increase the letter spacing, and give them a slightly different text color.

Next, let's format the inputs in the form

input {
color: #2b303a;
width: 100%;
border-radius: 0.25rem;
border: none;
padding: 0.5rem;
}

Here we make the text inside the input box take on a specific color, make the inputs take up 100% of their parent's width, add some border-radius to the input themselves, remove the border, and apply some inner padding to give the text some visual separation.

However, when we do this we also format the form button. We can reapply the normal button style by adding:

input[type='submit'] {
width: auto;
}

We can also format the button items for "Sign up" and "Donation" with the following:

input[type='submit'],
button {
font-family: 'Calistoga', serif;
background-color: #d64933;
color: #eee5e9;
border: none;
padding: 0.25rem 0.5rem;
border-radius: 0.25rem;
}

This applies a different font, sets the background and text color, removes the borders, applies padding, and some border-radius.

To apply the style to the heart in our text we will wrap it in a <span class="hearts"> and then apply this style:

.hearts {
color: #d64933;
text-shadow: 0 0 0.5rem #d64933;
font-size: 1.2rem;
}

Styling images

Noticing the featured images have a border and shadow we would like to style them.

To do so we'll change this markup:

<img src="http://placekitten.com/640/480" alt="An Animal" />
<img src="http://placekitten.com/640/480" alt="An Animal" />

to this:

<div class="feature">
<figure>
<img src="http://placekitten.com/640/480" alt="An Animal" />
</figure>
<figure>
<img src="http://placekitten.com/640/480" alt="An Animal" />
</figure>
</div>

We add the <div> to add the feature class to this section of the page. This allows us to style the contents specifically. We then wrap each of the <img> with a parent <figure> which we will use to apply the padding and the box-shadow.

figure {
margin: 0;
}
.feature figure {
margin: 0.5rem auto;
padding: 0.5rem;
background-color: #fffffd;
border-radius: 0.25rem;
box-shadow: 2px 2px 0.5rem #7c7c7c;
}
figure img {
width: 100%;
}

Better, but not yet perfect

While the page is much better with an application of CSS it is not yet exactly what we want. Next, we will look at adjusting the general layout of the page and certain elements within. To do this we will be using CSS flexbox and CSS grid techniques.

We should also remember that better, but not yet perfect is a good goal to work towards when dealing with CSS. Often we will feel like poor Peter Griffin in this image:

If we seek to incrementally improve our CSS, apply updates without adding extraneous markup, and reviewing each change we can add style to our pages without losing our patience.

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