Oldest Design Galleries

Some forum and comment discussions on Drawar, got me thinking about Design galleries, specifically just which one came first! I know some of the oldest galleries are probably in the deadpool, but a few of the elder statesmen are still around.

(Disclaimer: I’m using the post timestamps on the Galleries to determine their age, something that may not be accurate)

Although not strictly not a design gallery the first collection of CSS sites for inspiration was probably the CSS list collected by Meryl Evans. The list was first published on the CSS-Discuss mailing list, I couldn’t find a link to the actual post, but there is a reference to it in October of 2002. Later it was moved to the author’s website. Ultimately the list was moved to its own domain, and although still up hasn’t been updated in a while:

CSS Collection



Earliest Site Listed: 6 News Lawrence Kansas (17th April 2004)




Earliest Site Listed: SISSYFIGHT2000 (1st January 2001)

CSS Zen Garden



CSS Zen Garden is a little different than the other design galleries. Rather than features websites built with CSS it lets visitors submit custom CSS styling for a predefined HTML template, to demonstrate how you can style web content with just CSS changes.

Earliest Site Listed: Tranquille (April 2003)

CSS Vault



Earliest Site Listed: Clip-n-Seal (11th November 2003)

W3C Sites



Earliest Site Listed: W3C Sites (February 2004)

CSS Mania


Earliest Site Listed: Yeeshung-Ga (7th March 2004)

CSS Beauty



Earliest Site Listed: Serco TransArctic Expedition (17th May 2004)

Unmatched Style



Earliest Site Listed: Mrpunkin.coM : BLOG (21st July 2004)

CSS Drive



Earliest Site Listed: Zeldman (23rd August 2004)

Additional Long Surviving Galleries

CSS Import (June 2005)
Dark Eye (June 2005)
Design Snack (July 2005)
Web Creme (October 2005)
Light on Dark (January 2006)
CSS Elite (March 2006)
The Best Designs (April 2006)
CSS Bloom (June 2006)
Best Web Gallery (July 2006)
Most Inspired (August 2006)
CSS Remix (Unkown)
Screenalicious (Unkown)
Screenfluent (Unkown)

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty (and have some dates wrong), please let me know via the comments.

About Mubashar Iqbal

Mubashar Iqbal is the creator of Most Inspired, a web designer and developer, who has been building websites for over 13 years. You can read his blog at Mubashar Iqbal
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17 Responses to Oldest Design Galleries

  1. Hey there, yep we’re still around and kicking man. Thanks for the link up.

  2. I no longer manage CSS Collection. It was no longer a priority in my work, so I passed the torch to a more appropriate owner. Thanks for mentioning it. Details here: http://csscollection.com/about/

  3. @Meryl: Thanks for the clarification

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  5. garyb10 says:

    one of the old one was mine. It was lost in a server move, but you can see some of it on wayback machine. http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://nemesis1.f2o.org/

  6. Fazal says:

    Linkdup came along way before any of those. http://linkdup.com/

  7. @gene: Glad to see you’re still kicking

    @garyb10: Thanks for the link, I’m sure there are many I’ve missed.

    @fazal: Thanks, looks like it hasn’t been updated in a while.

  8. Steven Shouls says:

    According to archive.org (which is pretty accurate) here’s the right order:

    styleboost.com – feb 2001
    csszengarden.com – may 2003
    cssvault.com – Jan 2004
    w3csites.com – Mar 2004
    cssbeauty.com – May 2004
    unmatchedstyle.com Jul 2004
    cssdrive.com – Sep 2004
    cssmania.com – Sep 2004
    csscollection.com – Sep 2005

    Fazal is right though, linkdup is probably one of the oldest dated Jun 2000.

  9. Really enjoyed this post thanks

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  12. Jin says:

    highfive.com, the first web design gallery site by David Siegel. Inspiring for a site established in the mid 90s. R.I.P.

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  15. CSS Collection got its own domain in 2005, but it was started long before that by Donimo Shriver of Web Nouveau, then it went to meryl.net/css when web nouveau lost its domain and then setting up CSSCollection.com.

    It was on my site by 2002 as you can see here:

    I could not find domino’s original collecton on the wayback machine. But it was definitely up in 2002 before Zen Garden.

  16. Donimo says:

    The original collection was at donimo.f2s.com

    The idea for the collection began at the Coders Forum at Zelman.com from a suggestion by Stephanie Booth. http://climbtothestars.org/

    I took the idea and ran with it for a year. Squatters picked up the domain when I could no longer maintain it. Thanks to Meryl it lived on.

  17. Donimo says:


    Coders Forum was at A List Apart. Same diff though, right?

    Love to JZ.