Zen Garden

It’s time for me to write something about web design in amongst all of the personal bits.

One of the first things I have new customers do is to follow the link on the right hand side of my site to the Zen Garden and review some of their sample sites. For some, this seems like a strange exercise. Others dive in with great gusto. The point of the exercise is to tell me which ones they like and which ones they don’t like — and of course, to try and explain why they feel that way.

Each of the samples in the Zen Garden is different, and yet they all have the same basic content. Oh, the color scheme may change, there are new images with each one, but the words, the part that the search engines would see — that part is all the same.

The Zen Garden is a designers’ playground. In web design, there is a language called "CSS" or Cascading Style Sheets. In many ways, this is similar to the "skins" that have become common. Each style is a different way of looking at the same information, a different way of decorating that data. Some are more creative than others. Some move — you can’t always judge by the thumbnails on the main index page — and some are just plain aweful.

Here’s the delightful thing about styles, though. Joomla, WordPress, Blogger…all of them allow you to add your own style to their functionality. Remember, a good site has 3 components: content — your words, functionality — the programming aspect like Joomla, and style. So, in order to give folks a quick crash-course in style, I send them off to play in the Zen Garden.

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