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Innovative (and Experimental) CSS Examples and Techniques

CSS doesn’t always have to be serious business. In this article, you’ll see 25 fun, novel, and experimental CSS techniques and demonstrations. Note: some of the techniques and examples discussed here may not validate, cannot be rendered correctly by some browsers, and may not conform with standards-based design and development.

Many of the techniques shown here are for exploration only.

Transparent CSS Menu Drop-down

Transparent CSS Menu Drop-down screen shot. This demonstration showcases how to create an advanced CSS drop-down menu with transparency support (needs JavaScript for IE6 PNG transparency support).

Return of the image maps

Return of the image maps screen shot. In this example, you’ll see a nifty way to create CSS-based image maps with bubble tooltips.

CSS 3D puzzle

CSS 3D puzzle screen shot. This 3D puzzle was created using only CSS (this must have taken a LONG time to create).

CSS scrolling image map

CSS scrolling image map - screen shot. This example involves a panoramic picture with “hot spots”. Clicking on the hot spots displays a description and an zoomed-in image of the area on another panel.

CSS Decorative Gallery

CSS Decorative Gallery screen shot.Demo: CSS Decorative Gallery Web Designer Wall shows us how to create fancier image galleries by using background images on images.

Playing Cards with CSS

Playing Cards with CSS - demo - screen shot.Demo: Playing Cards This example uses special HTML characters to display the suits of the cards and then CSS to style and position them.

Homer CSS

Homer CSS - screen shot. In this example, Román Cortés recreates Homer Simpson with HTML characters/text and CSS. Check out the animated adaptation by Ned Batchelder.

CSS House

CSS House - screen shot.Demo: CSS House Design Detector created this house by using Div’s and styling them with CSS.

“Secret Message” with CSS Positioning and Transparency

Secret Message screen shot.Demo: Secret Message This example by Chris Coyier of CSS-tricks reveals a “Secret Message” as you scroll down the web page.

How to create light-weight drop shadows

light-weight drop shadows screen shot.Demo: light-weight drop shadows This example uses PNG’s (and transparencies) to apply drop-shadows to Div’s. This won’t work in IE 6 without JavaScript.

Multi-position shadow boxing

Multi-position shadow boxing screen shot. Here is another method for applying drop shadows to page elements (such as images).


Complexspiral screen shot. In this demonstration, CSS guru Eric Meyer shows some transparency/opacity capabilities of CSS.

DVD Recorder Remote

DVD Recorder Remote screen shot. Design Detector creates a remove control using HTML elements and CSS.

Drawing the line

Drawing the line screen shot. Stu Nicholls of CSSplay draws a pencil using CSS.

Hovering over the pencil will draw a horizontal line.

CSS Text Shadows

CSS Text Shadows screen shot. Here is a pure CSS-based solution to applying drop-shadows to text. It involves duplicate text layed on top of one another, which isn’t good practice.

CSS Flashy Links

CSS Flashy Links screen shot. In this navigation bar example, hovering over a menu item causes the arrow on the left to zoom across the menu item.

Map Pop

Map Pop screen shot. This example showcases CSS image maps through a map. Hovering over hot spots reveals more information on the right.

Pure CSS Popups

Pure CSS Popups screen shot. This technique involves hidden Div’s that are revealed when you hover over the trigger link.

CSS Sticky Footer

CSS Sticky Footer screen shot. Here’s a footer that is fixed at the bottom of the web page, regardless of height.

Scalable Star

Scalable Star screen shot. Using CSS, a simple shape (star) is drawn.

It scales when the user resizes the font size using browser controls (at least for modern browsers it does).

CSS: Menu Descriptions

CSS: Menu Descriptions screen shot. In this CSS-based menu, hovering over a menu item reveals more information about the menu item.

CSS Gradients Demo

CSS Gradients Demo screen shot.Demo: CSS Gradients Demo This demonstration uses CSS-styled empty Div’s (not a good practice) and background-colors to mimic the effect of gradients.

Scaled Background Image

Scaled Background Image screen shot.Demo: Scaled Background Image Here is a technique for scaling background images (resize your browser to see how it works).

CSS Vertical Bar Graphs

CSS Vertical Bar Graphs screen shot. This example styles list items to create an accessible bar graph.

CSS Gradient Text Effect

CSS Gradient Text Effect screen shot.Demo: CSS Gradient Text Effect This technique adds flare to text by super-imposing PNG images onto them. It requires alpha transparency so it won’t work in IE 6 without JavaScript.

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