This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Why websites look like plain text sometimes

If you've ever seen a website that appears to have no formatting, no color, and no structure, it's probably because the Style Sheet associated with it is not connecting. The image at the top of this post, which is what Walmart's website looks like right now (hopefully temporarily!) is what plain HTML looked like, back in the 1990s, before there was any type of formatting, and way before Style Sheets (called CSS) were introduced in the early 21st Century.

Style Sheets (the full name is Cascading Style Sheets) are a set of instructions to the HTML to tell it to do things like have background colors, fonts, that sort of thing. It can be on the same page as the coding of the HTML, or more commonly it's a separate file that is linked to multiple pages. That's what's gone wrong with the Walmart website, the CSS file can't be found by the HTML pages.

When the HTML file can find the style sheet (if it's a separate file) it displays the page correctly with colors, fonts, positioning, everything relating to the layout. The content, as you can see above, is just plain text.

So, when the internet was new, back in the 1990s, this is what web pages looked like. As more and more types of formatting were used, it started to get more colorful, and the formatting that we see nowadays is because of CSS. When it works.