A little bit of Zen for you

CSS Zen GardenSpotted on Doug Bowman’s site today - a link to the CSS Zen Garden. Intrigued by the title and Doug’s write-up, I went to take a look and found a really great practical demonstration of CSS in action. The page explains its purpose like so:

Littering a dark and dreary road lay the past relics of browser-specific tags, incompatible DOMs, and broken CSS support.

Today, we must clear the mind of past practices. Web enlightenment has been achieved thanks to the tireless efforts of folk like the W3C, WaSP and the major browser creators.

The css Zen Garden invites you to relax and meditate on the important lessons of the masters. Begin to see with clarity. Learn to use the (yet to be) time-honored techniques in new and invigorating fashion. Become one with the web.

Site creator Dave Shea has come up with a nice range of varied styles that demonstrate the concept of separating presentation from content perfectly. This is precisely what’s needed. I am firmly in the same camp as Doug and Dave (and numerous others) in believing that CSS-based (and in my case, totally accessible) designs do not have to be dull. As I wrote in an article for Made For All:

“I sat there thinking “Oh yeah, so why do most accessibility evangelists’ sites look so flaming dull and uninspiring” at which point Joe read my mind and said something along the lines of “of course, if you look at many of the sites that promote accessibility you might think otherwise”. The problem here is that most accessibility advocates fail badly in the design area and find it difficult to do something visually inspiring. My personal opinion is that the really good designers and coders who are now adopting accessibility and managing to work it in to their sites seamlessly are making accessibility a viable option. This is precisely what we need to get others on board, not accessibility gurus trying to make their accessible/functional sites look pretty. There is a clear distinction, I believe.”

This site you are looking at right now is table-free (with one small exception - the search area) and as such can easily be re-styled using CSS. My CSS designs for this site so far have all been fairly business-like, but I’m feeling inspired by the CSS Zen Garden, so expect something more arty-farty in the future. Dave is also interested in getting other people to contribute their own CSS designs for the CSS Zen Garden - so if you are feeling artistic and want to show what you are capable of, go on over there and start downloading.

Filed under: Accessibility
Posted by Ian on Thursday, May 8, 2003

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