Calling all designers: E2 needs you to make the site pretty!

The current E2 themes are getting tired. They are all over six years old and are increasingly showing their age. The EKW theme was designed to allow noders to skin the site, but the flexibility was limited by the table-based design. With this in mind, kthejoker and ascorbic have created a new, tableless theme: the Zen Theme.

Why should I care?

Inspired by CSS Zen Garden, this theme can be completely reskinned with CSS, and that's what we want you to do. If you go and try it, you'll probably be disappointed to see that it looks very much like the EKW theme, but without your colour-schemes. This is where you step in.

Between now and September 28, we will be running a quest to create the best new design for this theme. You may work independently or form a team. If you're interested in working on design or coding for a new theme but don't want to do it all yourself, send Two Sheds a message and he'll help you find a complementary partner. Alternately, just submit your design as a graphic to and we can do the CSS for you. Designers who don't code, please send us things!

The winning designer or team will win $250, and the runner up will receive $150. Winners will be chosen by a week-long poll of noders which will begin immediately after the deadline for entries on September 28. Also, all entrants will receive 100 XP. The winning theme may also become the default theme for Guest User and new users, but there's no guarantee. Over 95% of E2 traffic is through Guest User, so that could be a lot of people seeing your design.

How do I do this?

Start by grabbing the skeleton stylesheet. Go to the draughty atelier and create a new stylesheet and paste in the skeleton. Now, let your design skills go wild. We're not looking for simple changes to the colour scheme - we're hoping you can come up with a new, fresh, clean design worthy of this site. Don't feel constrained by any of our existing themes. As a simple example, the skeleton shows how you can move the nodelets to the left hand side. But that's just the start. We have provided ids and classes on most important elements on the site, so you can really change almost anything. If there's another element that you really need to be given a class or id, let ascorbic or Two Sheds know and we'll see what we can do. Once again, take the CSS Zen Garden as an example of how you can make major changes with just CSS. Once you're happy with the result, send a message to Two Sheds or ascorbic. The deadline is September 28.

There are a few finished and nearly finished entries that you can try after you've selected the zen theme in your User Settings. They're listed at Get Your Design On. You can view other stylesheets at The Catwalk, but be aware that these are likely to be unfinished while the competition is in progress.

What are the rules?

Firstly, by submitting your entry, you are agreeing to put your stylesheet into the public domain. We'll need to be using this on the site, so don't want to have to worry about copyright. Secondly, please use few images, if any. We want to keep the pages as lightweight as possible, so don't want to be loading up big background images. During the competition, you can host whatever images you do use on your own server or ask Two Sheds to host them for you. Once the competition ends, we'll move them to the E2 server. Designers and teams may submit more than one design, but may not receive both prizes. Please do not submit multiple designs that vary only in minor details. Configurable themes are encouraged, but as single themes, not as a group. That's pretty much it as far as rules are concerned. The designs will be judged by viewing an e2node, a single writeup, a homenode, and front pages for both Guest User and logged in noders, so make sure it looks good in all of them.

But there's more!

What's a new design without a logo? The current Jukka logo is also ancient and could do with a replacement. The current Zen Theme has no logo, and entries will be judged on that basis. However, the final design will include a logo. Once again, we're looking for something clean and simple. The ideal would be a logo designed by the same person who created the new site skin, but that's not vital. You could collaborate with someone else, or just submit one separately. We're allowing an extra two weeks for the logo if the winning design doesn't include one, so you'll be able to create one that fits that design.

What are the rules for the logo?

Keep it simple. Ideally, we'd like a vector-based design so that it can be scaled-up for things like t-shirts. Preferably send a PDF file with embedded fonts. If you're doing a bitmap, we'll need it as Photoshop (PSD) file, or a high resolution PNG file, with a transparent background. No JPEGs, please. The logo should work against a variety of backgrounds: if needed, supply us with different versions for light and dark. The logo must include the logotype "everything2" (sounds obvious, but it's worth making clear). A nice touch would be a favorites icon (16x16 pixels). Send logo submissions to Don't forget to include your username.

How very demanding! What's in it for me?

The knowledge that you've helped E2, a useful addition to your portfolio, and up to $250.

Where can I find help?

Send a message to ascorbic or Two Sheds. Also, ask to join the zenmasters usergroup and send a message to the group. Simulacron3's unofficial in-progress CSS Primer for the E2 Zen Theme is also useful.

Have fun!