Tag archive: CSS

Responsive design 101

Recently I built my first responsive website. The project had a really tight deadline, so I didn’t have much time to experiment. I did some research and I think I hit upon some crucial tips that saved me a lot of hassle. I thought I’d document what I’ve learned from this first foray into adapting for mobile devices, and perhaps save someone else some time.

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CSS debugging in Internet Explorer

I develop XHTML/CSS primarily in Firefox, followed by testing in tweaks in other browsers. Apart from Firefox being my primary browser anyway, most of the reason for this is that there are some tools for it that have become as essential to me as my text editor (these days, that’s TopStyle). This handy trio are:

  • Firebug – simply incredible
  • Web Developer Toolbar – still very valuable, with some great little features
  • ColorZilla – a good colour picker, plus some things that the others do, but slightly quicker to access

This is all great. However, more often than not, the times when you really need this sort of stuff is in Internet Explorer – especially pre-7 versions.

I’ve not had much luck in IE 6 with the Firebug Lite implementation. I have just come across a good bookmarklet called XRAY. Compared to the Swiss Army Knives above, it’s very basic, but it provides key information about page elements that can really speed debugging along.

Vertically aligned content and sidebar with CSS

One of the steps backwards taken with CSS is control of vertical stuff. Getting coloured sidebar and content areas to be equal height even when their contents are vertically unequal, and vertically centering something in a box are just two things that are (1) dead easy with tables, (2) quite common design requirements, and (3) a bit fiddly at best with current CSS standards.

Things may be changing with new CSS standards, and with the evolution of various hacks and workarounds. Anyway, I just found a solution for a site I’m working on which seems to work well in this instance. I may have reinvented some wheel or other, but here it is.

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Google, SEO & CSS image replacement

I’ve just been reading about possible clashes between the CSS “image replacement” technique that I use and Google’s rules about spam techniques.

Image replacement involves using CSS to hide the text for an element (e.g. a <h1>), and setting the background-image for that element to replace it with an image. Users with visual browsers with CSS get the image; text-only browsers, bots, etc., just see plain text.

It’s not without its detractors and slight drawbacks, but it’s a widespread technique. A quick scan of big-name sites as of writing found it in evidence on stopdesign.com, mezzoblue.com and adobe.com.

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IE CSS box height bug

A small but infuriating CSS bug in IE… No shit.

I’m creating a box with rounded corners around some content using my usual method:

  • Place empty
    s with ids above and below the content

  • Create background images for the top and bottom of the box
    s, and put them in (with fixed width and height for the

    ) with CSS
  • Continue the border along either side of the content
    with CSS borders

All well and good. Only, on IE6/Win, the top

wouldn’t shrink to less than about 16px, leaving a gap of whitespace below the 8px high background image.

After much searching, I found a workaround buried in the life-saving Explorer Exposed pages. You can read about the ins and outs over there; here you’re just going to get a nice quick fix.

Put this in the CSS rule for the


overflow: hidden;

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