Generally, this means that the main HTML page contains a link to the CSS stylesheet, which (for whatever reason) failed to load. Since the stylesheet is not available, the browser renders the page using the default styles (thus losing positioning information, background graphics, link colors, etc. that the CSS specified). In particular, many modern websites use CSS to position their
<div>s on the screen, so without the CSS, the navigation links show up in their default position (left-aligned, running down the page).
- Flaky network connection (e.g. downloading resources timed out after the main page loaded)
- Lost Internet connection, where the main HTML page remains in cache
- You canceled page loading after the HTML page loaded but before the resources loaded
Server returned an empty response (possibly from a bad local network connection, a bad proxy, or a temporary server glitch).
One particular common case is that the HTML page is hosted on one website or domain, and most linked resources are located on a different domain. For example, Super User (
superuser.com) refers to stylesheets and UI images (like the voting arrows) on
cdn.sstatic.net, user avatars on on
www.gravatar.com, and content images on
sstatic.net goes down temporarily while
superuser.com remains up, you will get an effect similar to what you describe.
You mention that the page shows "barely any graphics". It's possible that the website specifies most of its graphics as background images using the CSS. More likely, most resources linked by the page (including stylesheets and images) aren't loading. That results in both issues you describe (lost formatting and lost images).
The images that do load are either unaffected by the server or proxy glitch (images are often hosted on different servers or domains from the main web page), or were already in your browser cache (so the browser doesn't try to fetch them, avoiding the error).