Why Use a Template?
A template can be thought of as a model or a mold used to generate standardized or consistent multiples of some object or product. In our case, it is the starting point for creating a new web page that meets the standards of the CA.gov design and look and feel.
The intended use of the templates is to provide a consistent look and feel across all California state government websites while incorporating best practices of standards compliance. When a website is consistent across all pages, users are able to better find what they are looking for. They feel more confident and trust that they are viewing content from a legitimate authority. The templates increase the value of websites for the citizens and businesses that rely on the State’s information provided through them.
A good template greatly simplifies and expedites the production process. The templates available for download save time by employing Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to achieve their look and feel. This means it is very easy to override the look of web pages at a global level without changing the source of the underlying XHTML.
The template design allows for an agency to have complete control over how they present content in the mid section of the page as well as some control over the agency branding in the header as well. This allows an agency to express its branding needs while ensuring the state’s branding needs are also met.
For more information about what can and cannot be modified on a web page using the template, please refer to the Standards area of this site.
CA.gov Templates and CSS Strategy
The CA.gov design in its default style configuration is intended to suit the functional needs of any agency publishing content to the web with the minimal amount of necessary configuration. It is expected that all agencies using the template will desire some degree of unique branding autonomy. The bulk of these desired style changes are able to be accomplished through CSS.
The ca_master.css resides in a central location as defined in the XHTML template and should always be referred to in the <head> section of the web page before references to any other CSS. This scenario will ensure proper cascading of the CSS styles and proper presentation of the CA.gov web page design.
If an agency has its own branding needs, it may be appropriate for that agency to create their own agencyName.css style sheet.