The biggest CSS mistakes and how to avoid them

Zoe Mickley Gillenwater reveals some of the embarrassing screw-ups she made while learning CSS, and explains why it's fine to get things wrong along the way.

If you come to Generate Sydney on 5 September you're in for a day of inspiring and informative sessions from some of the biggest names in web design, including Zoe Mickley Gillenwater from

In her presentation, Zoe – who was writing about responsive web design before it even had that name – will talk about the when, what and how of using flexbox today: when to use it (and when not to), what UI and UX problems it can help you solve, and how to add it to your layouts in a robust way that doesn't harm non-supporting browsers or accessibility.

Generate Sydney - Using Flexbox Today

Learn the ins and outs of using flexbox in your real-world work at Generate Sydney

Zoe's no stranger to Generate; watch the video above and you can enjoy her session from Generate London 2014. Entitled 'CSS Lessons Learned the Hard Way', in it she recounts how she learned CSS: by making lots of embarrassing mistakes, and she points out that you should never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

Basically we tend to compare our own performance with that of our peers, but we only ever tend to see their finished work, not the mistakes they made along the way, and so naturally we find ourselves wanting by comparison. In this talk, though, you'll discover that even the best designers make some colossal screw-ups as they go, but that it's by making these mistakes and learning from them that they've managed to become experts.

Zoey Mickley Gillenwater, Generate London 2014

Everyone makes mistakes along the way, so own them and become better for doing so

If you're just starting out in CSS and feeling a little overwhelmed by it all then Zoe's presentation and her frank admissions of failure should be just the thing to give you the boost of confidence you'll need to go out, try new things with CSS, and make new mistakes of your very own. And if you want a closer look at the slides from Zoe's talk, they're all here for you to peruse at your leisure.

Don't miss Zoe Mickley Gillenwater's session – Using Flexbox Today – at Generate Sydney. Can't get to Sydney? Vlad Magdalin will be discussing the incredible power of flexbox at both Generate San Francisco and London.


Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for space parties.