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March 3, 2005 | Web Design & Development

Read an interesting article today on css signatures. And is has a great idea in it.

The concept of a css signature is to label your body with an identifier that is unique to your site, like:

<body id="gipetto-dyn-dns-org">

This way someone can use a custom stlye sheet to change something they don’t like about your site. Granted, few of us would really like for someone to strip a bunch of formatting from out sites because we have a vision on how we’d like to present our data – but how many times have you run accross a site that had one, or maybe two things that bugged you but otherwise you like the site, or for some reason or another you need to change the size of just one type of text on a certain site, or maybe someone writes great articles but their background image makes it unreadable.

That can all change if css signatures get the following that they should have. With that simple id in your body tag someone could create a user style sheet and very easily change something they don’t like and keep them on your site.

I know there are a few sites I’d like to easily do this to – maybe to change link text, kill a strike through on a visited link. Nothing major. I think it would be a nice convenience to add to any site. Granted, there will be the people who feel the need to change things just because they can, but for the most part I think it would give users a great foothold to making your (and my) site more pleasing to them.

This could also make a neat screenshot thread – pimp my site where we encourage people to make custom style sheets for out sites just for shits and giggles. I think that would actually be kind of fun – like css zen garden for dorks.

6 Responses

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  • Oh, and I guess I should include what inspired the whole thing, an archived post by Eric Meyer:

    Linkie Poo


    shawn, March 3, 2005 1:13 pm | permalink

  • So i thought this was such a good idea, I went straight for the template of my new site to make the addition. Then i discovered that I’d already used an ID on my body tag like so: <body id="pagetop">. Why? Because my "return to top" link uses #pagetop instead of going through the trouble of putting an empty anchor up there.

    No worries, I just changed id="pagetop" to id="www-joelschou-com" and href="#pagetop" to href="#www-joelschou-com" and now it works perfectly again. It might look a little silly to hit that return to top link and get #www-joelschou-com appended to the end of the URL, but it’s functional on so many levels. 🙂

    Thanks for the idea, Shawn!

    joel schou, March 3, 2005 3:10 pm | permalink

  • does it not work to nest that id?

    Will it work if you do:

    <body id="pagetop www-joelschou-com">


    shawn, March 3, 2005 3:14 pm | permalink

  • I don’t think you can do two ids on one element. That’s reserved for classes.

    The css signature is a novel concept, but I liken it to coding for Netscape 4 because it appeals to about the same number of people. Actually, I’d bet that coding for NN4 would have a vastly greater audience.

    I think that if you run in a blog-circle of web designers like Eric Meyer does this technique has more appeal because most of his readers are css savvy and might actually use this. But I don’t see many average surfers doing it even if they do know rudimentary css.

    Personally, I’ve never even used browser preferences to override a page’s style, and I don’t recall ever having the desire to rewrite a piece of someone else’s css either (excepting the blockage of certain content from certain urls). I’m simply much more interested in seeing what the designer intended.

    John Pennypacker, March 4, 2005 7:05 am | permalink

  • I think if this were to catch on it would be a very nice convenience to add for the user. I have a few sites that I wish would do this so I could just change one or two things to make them a bit easier for the way I work.

    shawn, March 4, 2005 8:10 am | permalink

  • Now that I read back through this. Is there a CSS tag to hack bad spelling?

    Shawn, March 21, 2005 1:54 pm | permalink

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