I've just discovered the wonderful HTML/CSS support in Mozilla, and believe that this is really the way one should create websites. Instead of spending oodles of time fiddling with tables and font crap, one could define the l&f in a stylesheet and be done with it.
The only problem with this is browser incompatibilities. AFAICT Mozilla handles both HTML and CSS beautifully, whereas IE5-IE6 is just barely ok (IE doesn't even handle some basic HTML things correctly, such as LINK).
The question from me to you is:
Have you used HTML and CSS extensively, and how have your users reacted?
I would personally like to place a flag in the ground and say, "if your browser doesn't handle HTML and CSS properly, get one that does. This is it. You *can* get a decent browsing experience if you so choose.". If people did that it would mean a LOT better surfing experience (e.g. faster downloads, better UI possibilities) and a lot less hassle for web designers and developers.
Thoughts on this?
CSS is a wonderful thing. But my experience has been that IE offers better support.
The most glaring CSS difference between IE/NS is layering. They use different tags - IE uses <DIV> and NS uses <LAYER>. The bottom line is that you simply need more than one stylesheet for your site.
Using CSS for fonts and colors is definitely the way to go.
I use servlets, the ECS (Element Construction Set from Apache) and CSS for presentation. They're superior to JSPs because I can easily use inheritance. In my PageServlet superclass I define all of the classes from the CSS with constant values. If you've never used the ECS I highly recommend it.
Servlet, ECS and CSS is ABSOLUTELY the easiest type of website to maintain.
We have pretty much done what you described, placed a requirement that to use the application you need at least a 5.0 browser, something that at least supports basic CSS. I really hate to place minimum requirements like the above on users, but we got to the point that in order to make the application appealing to the user, i.e. have a nice presentation we need to use features that are not supported in older 4.0 style browsers such as N**scrape 4.x. Most users don't understand that it is very difficult to give them the same type of GUI that a typical Windows application can. We are lucky that we do have some control over what browsers our users use. I've had the unfortunate experience of working on very public sites before. Anyways, I think stylesheets absolutely make maintaining a web sites appearance much easier. I wish I could be through jumping through hoops to make an application work with more than 2 browsers. It's painful. By the way, I use webwork extensively, it's been incredible!