Jordesign: Websites for Churches & Ministries


Proposal: a WordPress Zen Garden

Posted on 21/12/13 in Websites

I was just reading great post from Konstantin Obenland talking about the design and development process behind the default WordPress themes from the last couple of years. In it he explains his desire to simplify for next years theme – and perhaps even base it on Automattic’s _s theme – changing only the css.

This got me thinking – wouldn’t it be great if there were something like a WordPress Zen Garden.

If you haven’t heard of the CSS Zen Garden, then you should really check it out. Started just over 10 years ago – it was a site designed to showcase the possibilities of modern CSS. People could submit designs to the Zen Garden, but here’s the catch – they couldn’t touch the page’s html markup. All they could do was supply a stylesheet and some images.

Over the years there have been some amazing designs – really pushing the envelope of what can be done purely with CSS.

So here’s my proposal…

A WordPress Zen Garden

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a project similar to the CSS Zen Garden – but for WordPress themes?

All we need is a WordPress site (perhaps filled with content from the Theme Unit Test), with minimal plugins installed, and a vanilla copy of _s as the theme.

People could submit a new styles.css and a folder of images to be applied to the theme – changing the appearance, layout and style of the site as much as they are able. It would be great to see what sort of magic people could come up with using only a stylesheet and some images.

So what do you think – I’d love to get some feedback while I look into the idea further.


  1. I just saw Zen Garden for the first time and I was blown away. I would have thought markup would need to be shifted to achieve those dramatically different presentations.

    I’d love to see something like this with a very simple WordPress theme.

    24/12/13 at 6:52 am

  2. It will be great to see. I would love to try it myself. Lets do this.

    25/12/13 at 12:35 pm

  3. I like both Konstantin’s and this proposal. Go for it!

    31/12/13 at 6:41 am

  4. Richard said

    This could be set up as a free membership site using the standard multi-user capabilities.

    You can set the plug-ins that are allowed each member, and limit the theme selection to just the single theme.

    You only have to allow a member access to the css editor of the theme.


    16/6/14 at 4:42 pm

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