California Government CSS Design

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CalGrants.org, a site that I’ve been working on for the last couple of months has finally launched after many rounds of revisions and copy edits. The site was built in conjunction with design firm THOMAS|ferrous and PR firm Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn. As far as I know, this is the first California state government site that is designed with entirely CSS layout techniques.

The site features an accessible design that allows screen readers, PDAs, and non-graphic browsers to have full access to the content while providing a rich graphic experience to others. All text is resizable and the layout flows to accommodate the size changes.

The headings use a replacement technique that swaps out text headings for graphics in browsers that support it. All non-content images are pulled in through CSS, getting design elements out of the HTML entirely. Since pages of the site are intended to be printed, a print stylesheet was crafted to ensure a quality printed page.

Here’s proof that a CSS site doesn’t need to be the boxy, minimalist designs that are often shown as examples.

Chris Vance
November 21, 2003 10:14 PM

Wow, very well done. The pages flow nicely in Lynx, with the navigation at the bottom (which surpised me until I looked at the page source). The only minor thing I noticed was that on the Testimonials page, the comma after the "Executive Director for the California Student Aid Commission" is within the STRONG element, while the comma after Kim Chueh's "Actress" is outside the STRONG element (this is easier to see in Lynx, when bold items (eg. strong and b) are colored differently to separate them from surrounding text. However, this is just nitpicking. :-) In IE 6/Win, does anyone else notice a thin vertical bar (an artifact, apparently) just to the right of the menu_bottom gif image at the bottom of the page navigation? It appears after IE loads the image... I have to congratulate you and the others involved with the project; the site is very well executed, accessible, and polished (just look at the print styles). Excellent work.

Michael Kear
November 24, 2003 4:12 AM

Excellent site. It shows what can be done by learning and implementing standards. You might like to look at the sponsors page in Opera though. In Opera7.1 all the logos piled on top of one another instead of being laid out in a nice 3-column table as they are in IE. Other than that, it's fast as a flash, and easy to navigate. Nice job.

Jon Holden
December 2, 2003 4:55 PM

While not a State agency, we are a Federal agency in CA. Does that count? Our site is also 100% CSS, and has been for some time. This is also a rare within the Federal government, as is the concept of Section508 and accessibility. One of the big payoffs in converting our site to CSS was that most of my pages immediately met Level 3 of the WAI without any additional work.

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