Skip to content

CSS layouts, the box model, and IE7

If you know me you know I don’t disclose my sources. My first job as an Engineer was with a small instrumentation manufacturer, and I learned that business intelligence (including vendor lists and employee directories) is very, very valuable. As a Biomedical Engineer working in New Jersey, word was “the parkway goes both ways” suggesting employees flipped back and forth between companies up and down the turnpike. Competition was good for innovation then, too.

Lately I have been asked many times about my sources for CSS layouts and stylesheets, especially ones that work with IE7. I use a compressor for my js and CSS, which strips comments and labels, and I simply won’t send any referrals to my CSS people. They are busy enough as it is. Sorry.

But I will suggest that if you look hard enough you will find plenty of quality CSS resources that are on the edge of practical efficiency (as opposed to the theoretical edge of CSS, which I can’t appreciate in my competitive work). A few resources I really enjoy are for ideas (I liked it better before it got to 3.3 million page views per month, alas) and Layout Gala for box models.

I know I will regret sending competitive webmasters to these resources. Did you get a load of Stu Nicholls latest CSS-only gallery script? It’s simply beautiful. Another photographer working in CSS and it really shows. And if you have any SEO sense about you look at the code. Add a Flash top nav bar and it’s SEO heaven!

CSS is one area where I have a hard time arguing against outsourcing. Markus over at AUBlog posted his own experiences with two services that build valid CSS pages from your design comps. It doesn’t get any easier than that. He had good results from both PSD2HTML and XHTMLized, with each charging less than $150 for the first page, and more for optimized pages. The turn around time might be the most attractive feature though – 3 hours in some cases. Wow. Both provide portfolios of live sites so you can inspect code.

I don’t know how good it is, but Sitegrinder promises valid CSS pages direct from Photoshop. In 3 minutes. Before you write it off, take a look at the Pro version feature set. I know it sounds like a dream too good to be true, but if it’s as advanced as it sounds (no slices, pure CSS for box styling, etc) it could be a must have tool for kick-starting pages. If anybody knows better, post a comment!