See the naked bodies of 500 websites for one day only

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: Accessibility

CSS Naked Day 08 is intended to be a fun way to show the wider public the importance and power of CSS. The idea is that some website owners and designers have committed to disable their CSS for the day, so in fact showing the naked body of the web site. If you are reading this and have not noticed the pun yet then you are a normal web user and not a nerdy (apologises to any webmasters who I know and admire) web master. The body in this context is the section of the HTML code that contains the content of the page as compared to the header that, amongst other things, contains the pointer to the CSS. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet and defines the layout and formatting of the pages.

This means the user to the site will see what it looks like without the formatting carried out by CSS. It will also show up any web sites that use in-line formatting rather than using proper CSS. In fact only webmasters really understand what a CSS-less page should look like and will be able to tell if the website has cheated. I predict that zero of the 500+ sites who have signed up to this silly (if harmless) idea will fail this test because if they were going to fail they would not have signed up to the day in the first place.

The whole thing seems pointless to me as I can turn off the CSS on any page I like. I use Firefox and if I click view, page style, no style I get exactly the effect of switching off CSS. I do this very occasionally because it helps me understand the structure of some web sites without having to look at the raw source.

If you do come across one of these sites, a full list is available at CSS Naked Day 08, then just enjoy the joke and go back to the site on the 10th.

Having had my tirade about this day let me say something positive about it. It should be treated like a political demonstration, the main purpose of which, as we have seen with the demos around the Olympic torch, is to get publicity for the cause. I am writing about the day, and as they say that no publicity is bad publicity, the demo is having its effect.

If you are not a webmaster and are still reading this then please show this to your webmaster and ask him if he would dare let his body be seen naked in public. To understand why it is important let me quote extensively from XHTLM.COM who are participating:

“On April 9, 2008 many Web designers will unite for a common goal to promote Web standards by removing CSS from their Web sites for a day. The world will get to see their Web sites the way search engines and users of assistive technology see them—free from formatting. Whether you participate in CSS Naked Day this year or not, this is a great opportunity to review and improve the markup and content on your Web site. Keep the following in mind:

  • Only content free from formatting can be easily repurposed : The use of font element or inline CSS fuses content and formatting together. By turning off the CSS on your Web site, you can see if your content is free from formatting and if it can be easily repurposed in a different page layout, should you want to redesign your Web site in the future.
  • Content is king : Are visitors attracted to your Web because of its quality content or because of its pretty layout? By turning off the CSS on your Web site, you have the opportunity to see what you are really offering your visitors—quality content!
  • Good markup is search engine-friendly: Search engines are blind—they don’t see the pretty formatting on your site. By turning off the CSS on your Web site, you have the opportunity to see your Web site in a similar way to how search engines see it. Making sure your Web site works well with CSS turned off will make it easier for search engines to process your Web pages and will lead to a better search ranking.”

By the way, is produced by XSTANDARD who produce a very nice editor that produces well formed XHTML.