Frequently Asked Questions
A list of frequently asked questions that will hopefully address any issue that might spring to mind before you even decide to bring it up.
- How do I get in touch with a certain designer?
- Follow the link to their own site, and use the contact options there. Many would be glad to hear from you, but please don’t email Dave directly for contact information on each designer.
- Where did this idea come from?
- It’s been something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. Inspired in roughly equal parts by Chris Casciano’s Daily CSS Fun, the Hack Hotbot contest, and an independent idea I’ve had stuck in my head forever, I finally committed to creating this.
- Who created it?
- Dave Shea, a web designer from Vancouver, Canada. The site you’re currently on also belongs to him, and there’s plenty more non-Garden content to explore within. You can start by viewing his daily weblog, mezzoblue.
- Why a page refresh when loading new styles?
- How do I view each design’s CSS?
- There’s a convenient link under the ‘Resources’ header titled ‘View This Design’s CSS’. Guess what that does?
- How do I see the unstyled HTML?
- By following this link.
- Font resizing breaks some of the designs!
- Yes, it may. See this article for why the fancy image work of the Garden and font scaling don’t go so well together. However, starting from submission 11 or so, all new designs must account for at least two font sizes larger than the default. Hopefully this will satisfy any font scaling urges.
- How are you switching style sheets like that?
- Can I use these designs for other things?
- You may not use any of the graphics (image files: GIF, JPG, and PNG) on the Zen Garden elsewhere without the original designer's written permission. There are no exceptions to this. The Garden is about learning from other people's work, but not using it uncompensated. While the CSS files themselves are provided as-is under a very open Creative Commons license, we'd encourage you to learn from them and create your own designs instead of using them as a basis for your work. Go ahead and learn from the files, and grab bits and pieces of the CSS as you need them. But if you're using the bulk of the original .css file and only changing a few colours and images, you're basically cloning the design. Please e-mail the designer for permission before doing this, and respect their wishes if they prefer that you don't.
- Is the css Zen Garden AAA-compliant?
Quick summary: probably not. The “aaa” link on the main Zen Garden page used to point to an automated test which checked the Zen Garden’s markup for AAA compliance. Since the original checker is no longer available, a new and more comprehensive one has been found, but this comes with a caveat: the markup now fails the test in one area, where a series of links is separated by
character entities. Had these links been contained within a
<ul>, it’s likely the markup would still pass the test.
But even if the markup passes, AAA compliance is not necessarily achieved. The WCAG 1.0 guidelines contain multiple checkpoints which can not be tested automatically; they require a judgment call made by a human, not software. Many designs use techniques (FIR, fonts sized with the
pxunit) which are now deemed inaccessible, so the CSS of any particular design is as relevant as the markup when it comes to accessibility. In some cases and with certain designs, the Zen Garden may come close to achieving AAA compliance. But we can’t in good conscience say that the Zen Garden is an AAA-compliant site, since we now need such a long disclaimer.
- Is the css Zen Garden Section 508-compliant?
See above regarding AAA. While US Section 508 is more forgiving than AAA, for many of the same reasons the CSS of individual designs may not be compliant. Automated tests don’t tell the full story, and judgment calls are still required.
- What ever happened to that big huge list of designs?
- It’s still around. The current design list only features the “official” designs, meaning those that are hosted at csszengarden.com itself. Previously every single design submitted was linked in the main archives, but now only official designs will be. The former list is still available for you to browse however, just be aware that that there are many broken links.