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Showcase, Shmowcase October 31, 2006 – 6:15 p.m. – Permalink

I think this whole [CSS showcase] thing is becoming saturated. What good are awards and reviews when there are so many being given out? If all showcase sites at least attempted to plot similar courses in terms of quality control, and stopped letting weak designs through the net, we might have some semblance of clarity. Perhaps only a couple will survive, whilst the poor ones fade into further insignificance — the founders admitting defeat when nobody comments on their reviews any more, or their Google and Amazon affiliate payments are barely enough to buy them the latest printing of “CSS For Dummies.”

SIMON COLLISON,
COLLYLOGIC

Back in May, I promised that I would write about the final death of CSS showcases, the hopelessness of which has been steadily increasing ever since CSS Vault was sold. Unfortunately, CSS is now, in the minds of many Web designers, generally ubiquitous, and there is no need to provide motives for using CSS to create beautiful sites like those showcased in many places.

CSS showcases had one original mission: encourage fledgling designers to use CSS, because CSS is “the next big wave.” Immediately after reading The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web (a fascinating book, by the way), I pulled up the CSS Zen Garden and was engrossed by what I saw. Here were designers who could do magic with CSS, designers who could wield their magic staffs of CSS and provide astounding sites using a pre-constructed skeleton of content.

Of course, then began the massive influx of new CSS showcases that I shall call the “showcase tsunami.” Within a few years, all of these sites were created:

  • CSS Beauty
  • CSS Drive
  • CSS Import
  • CSS Remix
  • CSS Thesis
  • CSS Vault
  • Devil’s Details
  • Stylegala
  • Unmatched Style
  • The Web Standards Awards
  • and etc.

Showcasing became a cliché of massive proportions. Here’s the problem today: they’re just not new anymore, and they’re no longer exciting. After the widespread commercialization of these kinds of sites (case in point: CSS Vault and Stylegala), there is no longer any uniqueness on any of these sites.

Who goes anymore? Nobody that I can think of.

As CSS showcases began to decline (the focus of one of my earlier entries, “The Decline of CSS Showcases”), Web designers began looking not at other sites, but at their own hearts for inspiration. It was an illuminating day, and it was a cataclysmic event for showcases. All of a sudden, CSS Vault was sold, Stylegala was auctioned off, and the Web Standards Awards were closed.

CSS showcases are unequivocally dead.

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