Web design has changed enormously in the last 10 years. CSS has now been broadly accepted. That wasn’t the case back in 2005 when sites such as CSS Zen Garden were trying to gain attention to CSS. When CSS Zen Garden appeared they showed impressive and motivating examples of using CSS. The examples no longer pop or look impressive. They look standard or even plain compared to HTML5/CSS3 websites. The web has progressed and adopted CSS so that CSS Zen Garden is no longer impressive. Sites with CSS always had a distinctive look to them that netizens took time to accept. Today non-CSS pages are unacceptable.
When displaying links inline with text you want to balance readability and noticeability. An interesting way to do this is by giving it some padding and rounded corners.