Creativity is the hallmark of all successful designers, but so is their knowledge of the various platforms, technologies, and languages that allow them to breathe life into their creative design concepts. The problem is the world of design is evolving rapidly and it's getting increasingly difficult to keep up with its advancements. But, keep up you must, if you want to come up with websites that push the limits of imagination and become an inspiration for other web designers.
Being ordinary is no longer good enough when it comes to the design of websites; they must be able to impress the target audience; your website is not the only one vying for their attention. This means they’ll only go through a website that satisfies their needs and requirements best.
This is where the importance of CSS enters the picture. A website having clean, organized CSS will not only load more quickly but also offer a highly satisfying user experience. This also improves its chances of figuring prominently in search results. But, this isn’t easy.
A typical web design project goes through multiple iterations and making the necessary changes to clean it up is difficult and time-consuming. Cleaning up CSS is such a tedious process that you might think about cutting creative corners, wherein the final website is a world away from what you envisioned it to be.
To ensure you don’t water down your designs just because the CSS is difficult to manage, there are some tools that help you make your life a little less difficult. The use of these tools allows you to focus on your creativity and not worry whether your design will be compatible across browsers, whether it renders effectively across different devices and whether your website has consistent styling across all its pages.
Let’s take a look at ten CSS tools that make the life of designers easier:
CSS3 Generator makes the task of generating useful cross-browser snippets for a range of CSS3 properties, simple and convenient. You don’t have to remember the syntax for text-shadow, border-radius, RGBA, Multiple Columns, Transition or Gradient. This tool covers all vendor prefixes. All you need to do is use the drop-down menu to pick the element of choice, generate code to style it and paste it into your project.
Stylizer is a real-time CSS tool that offers immediate feedback, which means you save a lot of time and effort knowing exactly where you’ve gone wrong. So, the result of all your coding changes can be instantly previewed in the preview pane, and you know whether the coding has worked or not. With its drag and drop action, you can ensure each item fits the layout when you make necessary changes; you also know immediately whether these changes have worked or not. It offers you a host of advanced functionality including a ‘stakeout’ function that identifies the page element that will be affected by a CSS rule that you are currently editing. These and many other functions make CSS a great tool for taking control of your CSS styling and quickly handling repetitive tasks.
As the name suggests, Typechart focuses on web typography. You can flip through, preview, compare web typography and retrieve the CSS of the typography you want to pick. Fonts are a critical component of your CSS style sheets and this tool retrieves the CSS of a particular typographic style, simplifying and speeding up the coding process.
This tool is one of my personal favorites. It undertakes a static analysis of your source code and identifies a pattern that could be errors or which can create problems for the developer. This ensures you can come up with a clean CSS code. It also allows you to plug your own rules or remove the ones that are not relevant to your needs. You can apply a custom set of rules for your code and change it as per the requirements of your design project. The end result is that you can optimize your code and sort out each and every problem before the design reaches the developer.
CSS 3.0 Maker is a comprehensive tool and helps you experiment with a range of CSS settings and once you freeze on the setting you want, you can download the CSS. Choose a specific feature from the list of options given and experiment with the parameters for this option till you get the look you want. You will be shown a code for the look that you have zeroed in on, the next step is to download this code, and just copying and pasting it on your website. Simple! You can also check which browser has the capability to handle the feature you’ve chosen. This means you don’t have to worry whether the styling will work on a particular browser or not.
CleanCSS is your CSS doctor. It optimizes your code and formats it to perfection. With this tool, you can determine the size of your CSS file. It lets you decide the amount of compression you want. Another important feature is that it helps you code in shorthand. Stuff like background and borders, therefore, can be consolidated, which ensures a cleaner and more concise code.
The Code Beautifier is a simple, no frills tool that helps you clean your CSS. Paste or link CSS and just wait for the tool to do its job. If you don’t want a tool that is packed to the brim with features and still ensures super clean CSS coding, this is the tool to go for. It is ideal for designers who’ve just started using CSS and want to choose a tool that doesn’t complicate things for them. They can move on to a more feature rich tool once they get the hang of using this one.
Image optimization is a must if you want a faster site and an uncluttered, extremely streamlined stylesheet. Spritemapper helps you merge multiple images from within a CSS stylesheet into a single image. It then generates the appropriate CSS position for each image slice. Spritemapping your images will ensure you are able to improve the loading speed of your site, which is a huge point in its favor from the search visibility and user experience point of view.
Design CSS and HTML pages without a single line of code! No, it’s not a joke; you can do this with Xeo CSS. You can design a web page in detail with this web based styling tool and it is a perfect fit for web designers who’ve just begun their journey as a designer and are not experts in coding. It generates CSS3 snippets, classes and ID selectors, which makes this a great tool to use.
No, this isn’t a tool that helps optimize your code or compress images; this one goes one up and checks the validity of your CSS. Backed by the W3C governing body, this tool takes your website through a stringent and comprehensive check that makes sure it conforms to all the W3C standards. This helps you identify the portions of the website that are not W3C standards compliant.
There is just one primary objective of these tools – Simplify CSS coding, optimize it and make it cleaner.
If you know about some other CSS tools that will help designers, why not talk about them in the comments section. Looking forward to hearing from you.