On teaching CSS

I just had a strange thought: what if we taught CSS positioning/layout techniques *before* colors, fonts, etc.?

Bear with me for a sec.

I’m providing some technical assistance to a student designer, and as part of that I went ahead and did one of those CSS makeovers that were all the rage a while ago. (I love the design, but the implementation was strictly slice/table/spacer old skool stuff.)

What I noticed, because I was documenting the process to be able to work through it with the student, is that I went to the layout first and that it was the most critical element.

I understand that you want to help people get a good grasp of the concept before exposing them to the really hard stuff. But what would happen if you could get to layout techniques more quickly?

Layout issues expose some of the most meaningful CSS concerns: well-formedness, cascading, use of container divs, semantic issues in id/class names. And personally, it helps me to see the shape of the design before I start “coloring it in” — I suppose it’s a wireframe sort of thing. (hey, maybe a web course could teach it *with* wireframe techniques!)

Anyway, I’d be curious to see what others think…and I should be finding out whether it makes sense to go this way when I work with the student!

One Reply to “On teaching CSS”

  1. I think it depends on the student, if you actually have the option. It seems like if you’re trying to teach someone how to design with CSS, you certainly would want to start with the most essential design elements, layout and such. It might be a slow start, but the crash course would get their feet wet and make it easier for them to grasp the color/font/etc. stuff later (while also de-emphasizing it!).

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