About this blog

The web’s most beautiful language

CSS { In Real Life } started life in 2018 as a blog about front end technologies, with a particular focus on CSS – which I consider to be the web’s most beautiful language. Not only is it the language that literally makes the web beautiful (consider how our web pages would look without it), I find it an absolute joy to write!

CSS is constantly evolving, and in recent years it’s moved along faster than ever. Recent exciting features include container queries, the :has() pseudo-class, scroll-driven animations, nesting and color-mix()...the list goes on. There’s always something new to get excited about, and it’s great to see how invested the community is in imbuing us CSS developers with new superpowers.

CSS is the language that made me fall in love with web development, and it’s still the language that fills me with the most excitement. Indeed, some of what it can do feels truly magical. Although my writing topics have diversified over the years, this blog is still in part a love letter to CSS, and the community it serves.

The journey so far

I’ve always loved writing, and I started this blog in order to carve out my own little corner of the internet. I’d published a few articles on Codepen which ended up being quite popular, but I liked the idea of publishing on my own platform. My goal was (and still is) to write honestly and pragmatically about my front end learnings, acknowledging any limitations (my own and the technology’s). I treat it first and foremost as a place of reference for myself (I frequently refer back to my blog posts when I need to remind myself how to do something), but I hope it will also help others find their own way, and demonstrate a few tips and tricks unfamiliar to some readers.

It’s also a place to jot down my thoughts (sometimes half-formed) and reactions to web tech topics, which can sometimes go beyond code. I won’t apologise for occasionally venting my opinions. It’s my blog, after all 😄

What I love about working in this industry (and especially with CSS) is the community’s willingness to share knowledge and help and support each other. To this end, CSS { IRL } has a blogroll, listing some of the blogs that have helped and influenced me, and which I love reading. (Updating it is on my “to do” list!) I hope you’ll discover some hidden gems on there too.

Why “in real life”?

Real life is sometimes messy. It doesn’t always follow “best practices”, or clear road maps. It often involves compromises and trade-offs. Web development is similar. There often isn’t a single “right” way to do things, and the choices we make are born of pragmatism. I endeavour to write honestly about my experiences and explain the decisions I make, while acknowledging others to whom I am indebted.

In our industry, plenty of deference is given to individuals working for large companies or travelling the world writing and speaking about web technologies (and often deservedly so). But it’s important to remember that those of us working for smaller companies, or even on our own, producing websites for small-to-medium-sized clients with finite resources actually make up a large proportion of developers. We have different sets of constraints to work with, which sometimes means choosing not to use the latest, hottest technology, even when we want to, but being informed enough to make those choices nonetheless. Because our users are just as important. These are the people I serve. This is real life.


This site is built with static site generator 11ty, with Parcel JS for module bundling and compiling assets. If you’re interesting in building your own personal site, I have a starter project to help you get going.

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About the author

CSS { IRL } is designed, written and developed by Michelle Barker, Senior Front End Developer at Ada Mode, working on web apps for the renewable energy industry. She is a prolific writer, creative coder and occasional speaker on web technologies, as well as being a CSS superfan.

Visit her personal site michellebarker.co.uk or get in touch: contact@michellebarker.co.uk