About this site's lack of design: Yes, it's supposed to look this way — I'm helping create a new sandbox theme for WordPress (see it on GitHub).

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977


CSS Can Be Beautiful

At least, that’s what Zeldman says today about my CSS Zen Garden submission, Not So Minimal. It’s nice to know smart people think highly of my work…

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Monday, July 7th, 2003.


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6 comments on “CSS Can Be Beautiful”

  1. Posted by MikeyC on Monday, July 7th, 2003.

    I pretty much gave up on trying to come up with an original design as there is no way I can compete with some of the truly incredible work submitted thus far.

    So I figured that I would just have fun and maybe get something into the “themes and look-alikes” section. Hopefully it makes it: http://www.zeit.ca/zenzilla/

  2. Posted by Dan on Tuesday, July 8th, 2003.

    Hi Mikey,

    Don’t be so quick to give up! :-) I had the same thought until I saw Douglas Bowman’s submission, and it inspired me to kick my brain into gear and try some ideas — I don’t think it worked out too poorly ;-)

    Here are some ideas to help your creative process: experiment with stock photography (the Stock Exchange is a good, free resource) and typography, and don’t worry about the layout to begin with. Find a style, a “look” that combines colors, photography and typography just working with the title (CSS Zen Garden) until you hit on something you like, then simply expand on that theme.

    You can also try quick-sketching: Find a napkin, or half a piece of paper, and draw 10-second layouts, no larger than 2inches square (this prevents you from getting into too much detail). Try to fill up the page with as many drawings/variations as you can in under a minute, and then pick two or three layouts which seem to catch your eye, and expand on those in Photoshop.

    The best time to challenge yourself (and your design skills) is when you are pretty sure you can’t come up with anything good. If you can overcome that feeling, you will produce work you will be very proud of.

    You obviously have the CSS-layout concept down pat, so spend a few nights experimenting, and don’t be afraid to delete and start over (but do save anything you spend more than 10 minutes on in Photoshop — it might inspire you in part the next day :-)

  3. Posted by Sunny on Tuesday, July 8th, 2003.

    Yeah I have started making small sketches too! Often I am reading magazines, or watching television, and a cool layout pops into my mind. So I just do a quick sketch so I can get back to it.

    But I wish I had more time! As a full time student, its virtually impossible for me to devote time to my interest in web design. But then something like Golden Mean and Not So Minimal inspire me to string together few moments to enjoy my newest hobby!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Posted by MikeyC on Sunday, July 13th, 2003.

    Dave is back from his honeymoon and was kind enough to add my submission to the “themes and look-alikes” section of the Garden.


  5. Posted by popups on Friday, July 16th, 2004.

    First time reading this blog, just wanted to say hi.

  6. Posted by Helen on Friday, July 23rd, 2004.

    Well, today most designers begin with the semantic coding structure of the site, and then use CSS to present the design as they wish. In fact, the creativity is limited to some extent, the prior concept of design is moved aside. I don’t approve of it. To my mind, it is necessary to develop design first and then to create semantic structure.

    Helen, web-designer