Creating your Style Stage stylesheet will challenge you to explore techniques like flexbox and grid to arrange the page, and pseudo elements to add extra content and flair. Take the opportunity to design something a little unusual! So far, gradients and transform: skew() are popular with contributors ✨

Play is a powerful teacher! How far can you push the boundaries while staying accessible and performant? These are skills worth practicing that will equip you to choose the right tool for the job in future projects. Even if the right tool is a framework, you will have a deeper understanding of how styles you apply are working and improve your ability to customize them.

Trust me - it feels good to say: "I can do that in CSS!"

Stylesheet Creation Tips

Enjoy using Sass? - Me too! You can start from the Sass template that includes the original Sass from the Main Stage theme. The template also features BrowserSync to hot-reload updates as you build your submission.

  • Create inclusive, accessible styles - At minimum, Style Stage guidelines require meeting accessible contrast as well as removing animations via prefers-reduced-motion (demonstrated in the source CSS). Both of these things help create a more inclusive web by ensuring users can enjoy interactive experiences with less barriers. Additionally, ensure you retain accessible :focus states for interactive elements. To test, tab over your layout and if you loose track of where you've tabbed, fix the :focus! If you're newer to web accessibility, my intro article covers contrast, keyboard interaction, and more including additional resource links.
  • Accessible contrast required across states - A common mistake for links styled as buttons is to lose contrast for :focus or :hover states, or not have enough contrast between the "button" background and the surface behind the button. Good news! I've created a web app to help you with this contrast, check it out at
  • Don't forget the skip link! - The .skip-link is the first item in the HTML source's body. On the Main Stage, it appears when in :focus, which is expected to be the first "tab" event into the browser window. This is useful for users of assitive technology "skip" the navigation and header fluff to get to the main content. Be sure to give it a style! You can certainly choose to have it always visible.
  • Use a style reset - The source styles include a modified version of Andy Bell's Modern CSS Reset
  • Inspect! - All modern browsers have an "Inspector" built in which allows you to choose an element on the page and quickly learn more about its HTML structure and related styles. Spend a bit of time learning tricks about the Inspector included in your favorite browser!
  • Become one with the cascade - The "C" in CSS is going to be your greatest enabler on this project. With limited availability of classes and IDs, you will have much greater success by working with inheritance. Need a refresher? Check out my episode about the cascade from my web development course for beginners.
  • Learn about CSS selectors - Because the Style Stage HTML offers very minimal classes and IDs, you'll want to get familiar with the wide range of ways you can select elements in CSS. I really love this interactive game that covers 32 selector combinations: CSS Diner. I've also written an in-depth guide to advanced CSS selectors including examples.
  • Cozy up to pseudo elements - You may not be allowed to alter the HTML, but that doesn't mean you can't add extra elements! Pseudo elements allow you to prepend and append extra content, greatly expanding the styling opportunities. In theory you could add two extra elements to every element in the page and... well I'm not going to do the math, but it's a lot of extra elements! These can hold things like extra backgrounds, SVGs, and even text (it's how the "coach marks" are applied on the Main Stage). Check out my guide to learn more about using pseudo elements.
  • Try out CSS custom properties - The source CSS makes use of CSS custom properties (aka "variables"). Learn from experts like Miriam Suzanne (who is a Style Stage contributor!) and Sara Soueidan.
  • Test the most modern CSS - What interesting techniques can you create with :focus-within? Have you tried out grid yet? What about creating an enhanced experience with cutting-edge features by testing for them with @supports?
  • Review all stylesheets - Don't just look - scroll! Hover! Resize! Most importantly - inspect!

Level-Up Your Skills on

Review my in-depth tutorials to upgrade your CSS toolbox!