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The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web Paperback – Feb 17 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1 edition (Feb. 17 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780321303479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321303479
  • ASIN: 0321303474
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #181,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

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. By using the Zen Garden sites as examples of how CSS design techniques and approaches can be applied to specific Web challenges, authors Dave Shea and Molly Holzschlag provide an eye-opening look at the range of design methods made possible by CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). By the time you've finished perusing the volume, you'll have a new understanding of the graphically rich, fully accessible sites that CSS design facilitates. In sections on design, layout, imagery, typography, effects, and themes, Dave and Molly take you through every phase of the design process--from striking a sensible balance between text and graphics to creating eye-popping special effects (no scripting required).

About the Author

Dave Shea is the creator and cultivator of the highly influential CSS Zen Garden Web site ( As well as being a member of the Web Standards Project, Dave is the owner and director of Bright Creative, and he writes about all things Web for his daily weblog, With over 6 years of experience working on the Web, Dave is a leader of the new generation of Web designers that believe in responsible Web design.

An author, instructor, and Web designer, Molly E. Holzschlag has written over 27 books related to Web design and development. She's been coined "one of the greatest digerati" and deemed one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women on the Web. There is little doubt that in the world of Web design and development, Molly is one of the most fun and vibrant Web characters around. As a steering committee member for the Web Standards Project (WaSP), Molly works along with a group of other dedicated Web developers and designers to promote W3C recommendations. For more about Molly, check out

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
One of the first things to become apparent from the front cover of this book is that there is no obvious purpose suggested in the title, it is instead necessary to proceed past the acknowledgements and a section about the authors to the introductory section.
It is then explained that the book is intended; in part to be a documentation and narrative about the Zen Garden website ( but primarily it is intended as a tutorial on the best practices and techniques relating to modern web design. Simultaneously the book serves as a gallery of "eye candy" that can be referred to for inspiration for reader's projects.
The intended target audience of this book falls under the umbrella of anyone interested in designing and developing websites, and is then subcategorized into the following:
* Designers - Teaching practical design and real-world problem solving.
* Programmers - Using already logical skills and putting them into a design context.
* CSS Novices - Expand on knowledge of basic syntax/concepts and apply them to work.
Personally I'd classify myself as the programmer, however whilst reading through the book it is certainly apparent how users falling under the other classifications would perceive things.
The book is structured as well as any I've encountered, beginning with an introduction, then followed by the main tutorial section which is constantly reinforced by examples from the Zen Garden Website ( which I believe to be a strong tool as it means readers always have a visual representation of what they are reading.
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Format: Paperback
Truly one of the most amazing books I've read when it comes to web design. The Zen of CSS Design is a great book for all levels of knowledge for ideas, but it is recommended you know basic CSS if you want to understand the examples of designs; this book will not teach you css.
Each page in the book is almost like a webpage explaining design. The book has several chapters; some include: Design, Layout and Imagery. There are some more chapters which will give you a handle on Special Effects and Typography. All together there are 7 chapters, each color coded with tips and examples of design and programming/code.
Looking for something specific in the book? Go ahead and flip to the index because this book is equipt with a fourteen page index. The book doesn't have a glossary, but most of the terms they will be using throughout the reading is in the first chapter -- Source.
There are not many weak points in this book. The only thing I'm disappointed about in the book is that the authors took the first chapter and created it into a whole biography of's website. Other than that I'm pleased with it. If I were to recommend a book that gave good examples of efficient and eye catching designs along with great code examples I would direct you to this book.
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Format: Paperback
When building a website, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) can make or break a website, This book will show you how to build a website out of nothing but CSS. In my opinion Zen Garden is "Cadillac" of web design. In this book there is a lot of high detailed pages showing you many example templates, then it goes on to tell you how they coded/made the design. Also gives a lot of snippets and other types of bits of coding, also covers how to overlap and set transparency to pictures and menus. Also lets you know what browsers will be compatible with CSS. CSS isn't perfect and just like any other type of coding, you might end up spending hours and hours trying to get something right, with this book you wont be spending hours coding, this book also tells you the "do's and don'ts" for building a CSS website, also gives you a few sites where you can check your work for errors and whatnot. Also gives you many CSS resource links, where you can get help, templates, code example, other CSS books. I recommend this book for anyone that uses CSS, from the most basic user to the advanced.
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By A Customer on Nov. 21 2005
Format: Paperback
I repeat, there is NOT much content on CSS. Even though the title and book description could mislead the buyer into believing that there is.
The authors circle talk a lot, repeating themselves again and again, and then, another time. I was expecting this book to cover CSS techniques in details, explaining the subtleties of CSS properties and their consequences.
Instead, I find a book with pagefuls of poetry, and explanations of very very common design principles.
I read my books with a highlighter, which I use for important or interesting information. Now, as I go back and flip through the book, I realize that I haven't leaned much. Very little. Muy poco.
If you like poetry, this book is for you. Have a treat.
I do like poetry sometimes, but not in expensive technical books.
I got ripped I guess. But hey, sh** happens and I'm still smiling...
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By A Customer on Nov. 17 2005
Format: Paperback
As many would agree, the idea behind the "Zen of CSS Design" project is good. That said, this book could be either good or bad; depending of where you're at.
It could be great for coders who need a little help to develop their designing skills.
For those who already have these skills honed, the book is of little use.
The layout of this book is thoughful and aesthetic, nothing wrong on that side. As for the content, I find it to be very repetitive. There is a LOT of space spent on a FEW design principles. In my point of view, that could have been shrunk into a third of what it is, but then, the book would be ridiculously thin and not saleable.
Well, I suppose I was expecting something more technical, which this book is NOT. For webmasters who've been in the business for a while, this book is mainly common knowledge. Sure they will find bits of goodies here and there, ...but the web is full of them.
I am now reading Eric Meyer's CSS book, and I find it way superior.
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