Presented at: Chicago Coder Conference 2017

“CSS Isn’t Scary: How to Stop Worrying and Love Front End” is aimed at programmers who’ve written enough CSS to feel frustrated and is intended to help developers feel more comfortable with CSS. This talk was delivered at Chicago Coder Conference 2017 to an audience of mixed skill levels and knowledge of CSS.



In this talk, I cover some of the most common complaints about CSS and why they make writing CSS seem so scary.

Between struggling with positioning, fighting the cascading nature of CSS, and wrapping your head around declarative programming, writing CSS can just feel so frustrating. When you can’t really write tests, you might end up just guessing and checking your work, and you end up going to a dedicated front end engineer to make the tiniest changes to your website.

Developer working on computer

Some of the most frustrating parts of CSS are also its strengths, however.

CSS is flexible enough to allow other languages (like HTML and Javascript) to style a page, and it’s relatively easy to generate using other languages. CSS is made of simple things (just selectors and name/value pairs!) but can also stand alone and do amazing things without any help from Javascript. It’s also fundamentally open source, so you can almost always look at the CSS for a website, dissect it, and learn something new from someone else’s code.

Website coding

I’ve found that the best way to overcome a fear of writing CSS is to learn how to write better CSS, and think of it like any other programming language. This includes applying successful strategies for writing back end code to work with CSS, such as pseudocoding and reading documentation.

In this talk, I explain lots of helpful tips for improving your CSS, including understanding selector specificity, writing simpler code, and keeping your code free of repetition.


Watch the full video here

Transcript available here.