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The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  856 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Proving once and for all that standards-compliant design does not equal dull design, this inspiring tome uses examples from the landmark CSS Zen Garden site as the foundation for discussions on how to create beautiful, progressive CSS-based Web sites.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published February 17th 2005 by Peachpit Press
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Craig Cecil
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: computers
Since I'm a frequent visitor to the excellent CSS Zen Garden web site, I purchased this book hoping that it would enlighten me regarding the technical implementation of some of the more advanced CSS designs. Unfortunately, I think the book just misses the mark. What you get is a brief six page explanation of a particular design concept for each of the 36 included designs. This is all good, but I was hoping to see at least a few of the very advanced designs completely dissected in explanation, fr ...more
Feb 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Well, I didn't READ this book, per se; I looked at the pretty pictures. And what pretty pictures they were!

This is a good book to either learn from (I assume), or just turn to from time to time to get some web design juices flowing. It inspires you to think of a webpage as a work of art rather than a series of text boxes and padding... or those animated .gif and .midi files that made you want to rip your hair out(although it was "cool" in the 90s, web design has evolved a little from the Geociti
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference, reviewed
An interested read, but not universally usable. The examples make good designs for a graphic designer's blog, but just aren't useful for e-commerce, tutorials, forums, etc. (just picture Good Reads using any one of these layouts). There's even one layout that scrolls horizontally. It (and the site) are great for showing the potential of CSS since all designs use the same HTML code but look radically different, but it's not where to go to learn CSS.

There are some good tips regarding the use of co
Matt Ward
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
This is a great book for inspiration and information. It is based on Dave Shea's conceptual website css Zen Garden, which effectively showcases the incredible flexibility of Cascading Style Sheets.

The book uses several of the different submission designs in order to address and consider different issues of design.

It is an extremely useful book, but be advised that a basic understanding of CSS is really required in order to fully appreciate the content.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book dives more into design than CSS, and is pretty dated. Web technologies and standards evolves so quickly that this outcome is expected.

The design lessons taught in this book is still relevant. With regards to the technical details in the book, it is a great history lesson, and a reminder of how far we have come so we do not make the same mistakes, be it for the CSS community, or when it comes to having a standard in any other aspects of the web (and beyond).
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really liked it and recommend it for writers at all levels.
May 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I loved the website and the sneak previews on Amazon made me want to buy this book, it is sometimes good to have a hard visual reference when learning something new.

Even though it was written in 2003 some aspects of this book our out of date, for example it still references IE6 as not being able to interpret some CSS (of course we are now up to IE9) - it also lists Dreamweaver as a Macromedia product, unfortunately Macromedia has been mostly gobbled up by Adobe who know owns DW.

Although there ar
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: web designers seeking aesthetic inspiration
This is a good book for illustrating the elegance that can be achieved using CSS for design, and it offers some general principles for basic design and CSS implementation. It is not, however, a technical book or a step-by-step, how-to manual. You won't find any information about CSS syntax or any other detailed technical information. If you already know the basics of CSS and want some conceptual hints for improving layout and design, this is a nice place to start. ...more
Dec 14, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a tough book for me to finish. The content was not hard, but it had very few code excerpts for reference and was more describing theory than practice. I would recommend this book for designers and developers looking for inspiration, but probably not for someone trying to learn CSS.

You can view my full review on my website.
Rowan Evenstar
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stunning book with its full page colour prints. I like to look to this book for inspiration now and then.

The website behind the book was a great find, and really showed me the power of css and made me get this book.

A great book to have on the shelf for inspiration. It's not a technical guide and does not cover the basics of CSS, a prior knowledge is required.

My copy remains on my desk in view at all times even after so many years.
Tatiana Jimenez
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
This book is more for a somewhat experienced CSS savvy web designer... which is not me. I'm a beginner. But I still definitely learned a lot from this book. A lot of design tips. This was a good book for me to take in and read to acquaint myself with the world of CSS and what it is capable of helping me accomplish. ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: computer-science
While it presents some interesting concepts for CSS designs, it is also nearly 15 years old, so it is a little out of date. There are no references to CSS3 and HTML5. Several of the chapters don't go into detail about the coding of CSS either. ...more
Jul 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-design-tech
This book helped me turn a professional corner in my design career in not only what it taught me, but how -- through it's preaching of simplicity, accessibility, and beauty. If you are web designer/developer, it will do the same for you. If you aren't, there's no more to look at here. ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Not for beginners! Though this would make a great step for intermediate CSS users. Lots of clever hacks and work-arounds all taught with visuals that really speak to the more visually inclined, like designers. Definitely one I'd like to keep on a programming reference shelf. ...more
Matt McClard
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you want to learn to design web sites with css this book is a must have.
Aug 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: webdevelopment
This is a good crossover book - a little bit of CSS for designers and a little bit of design for nerds trying to understand the concepts. No great revelations to be had, but it is pretty.
Christopher Bishop
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great for design insight and CSS tricks
May 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: web designers looking for inspiration
Not exactly the how-to on CSS layout I was looking for, but still worth a skim if you are looking for inspiration for new layouts.
Mollie the Cat
Oct 05, 2014 marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
It didn't have as much instruction as descriptions of why someone did what they did to their website. ...more
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great so far.
Oscar Sánchez
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent collection of complex advanced examples of css web sites. Very helpful.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Lots of pretty pictures and duh code. Nothing specific or necessary to really get the zen coding of the book.
May 26, 2009 added it
Shelves: geek
Ongoing working while reading read... so far some useful ideas about change in perspective
Theresia Tre
Dec 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: have-read
Some CSS sites case study from the CSS dump site: CSS Zen Garden.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: software
Lots of good examples.
Ari Suradipraja
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Adele Groote
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Inspirational to those striving to be CSS masters. ALso good for design ideas.
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very useful.
rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2007
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