Chris Spurgeon works on the American Public Media family of web sites. He recently posted on the Well about some changes he made to the Marketplace web site:
I just changed the tab navigation of the Marketplace radio show website (www.marketplace.org) from vertical tabs along the left hand side of thepage to horizontal tabs along the top. Other than uploading the new tab graphics, all I had to do was tweak 2 CSS rules and the change instantly appeared on more than 5 thousand static pages. So damn cool.
Chris graciously gave permission for me to quote his post here. This is a fantastic example of how going to a CSS design allows you to make significant changes quickly by editing just a single file.
Another thing to note is that if you look at the source code for the page, you can see that it includes corporate branding and search elements for the overall organization that do not cleanly separate content from presentation. The reality of web design in large organizations is that you often don’t have control of everything and have to work around various things that are not open for negotiation. However, the rest of the page does separate presentation from content markup, which enabled Chris to make that big change so easily. This shows how you don’t have to follow a purist approach to still benefit from these techniques.