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I'm Jin, the designer for the Stack Exchange sites as they graduate from the beta phase. Each site will have its own unique theme that will reflect its topic. However, all sites will share quite a bit of common elements so they feel like they're part of the Stack Exchange family.

For the UX.SE site, the stats aren't quite there for an official launch just yet. However, I believe deploying a final design of the site would help to engage new UX users who aren't familiar with the Stack Exchange sites.

As for the site design, I decided to commission a talented designer and respected UX blogger, Dmitry Fadeyev. I have been a long time fan of Dmitry's blog, Usability Post and many of his articles on Smashing Magazine. I was very thrilled when he agreed to take on this design project.

We both agreed to go with a clean and simple design. It should serve as a "pleasant shell" to the excellent content we have. It shouldn't be over-styled to overwhelm the content, but at the same time it needs to be polished enough not to be barren.

I am very pleased with the designs Dmitry came up with.

click on images to see the full resolution version.

UX home page design

enter image description here

I am aiming to launch the new design sometime this week, or early next week.

Please let me know if you have any feedback. When the new design launches, the site will remain as a "Beta" site. Once the site stats improve a bit more we'll launch the site officially, so share the site with people you think would be interested!

  • BTW, the Beta tag is missing. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Apr 21 '11 at 6:30
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    congrats on launching. Overall I think it looks very good. Please update the favicon as well. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Apr 22 '11 at 7:31
  • All nitpicking aside - it's much much easier on the eye, and the main list of posts (in particular) rocks. Thank you Dmitry and Jin. – gef05 Apr 22 '11 at 14:23
  • @Vitaly, @Gary I just posted a follow up on the design launch meta.ux.stackexchange.com/questions/293/new-design-launched – Jin Apr 22 '11 at 14:25
  • check this out! And then propose the new arrows on meta. – Knu Jun 14 '11 at 9:46
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Wow, it's so good!

Favorite parts:

  • Clean nav — Stands out and very easy to read
  • Ask Question button — it stands out perfectly
  • Tag design — Subtle and clean
  • Badge design — Stands apart from tag
  • Answered check mark
  • The standard action buttons

Possible areas for improvement:

  • Star - what does it mean? — I'm not sure I understand the significance. I think especially in UX, every component should have meaning. Focused meaning and reduction of noise are very important in UX.
  • Up and down arrows — I'm being very nitpicky but for some reason I think the standard triangles would fit the design better.
  • Sub tab highlight style — Ok, again, being picky.
  • I agree with the up/down arrow comment. I think equilateral triangles may blend better with the circle shaped fav star icon. – Jin Apr 21 '11 at 21:18
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Love it!

With all this talk about the star, I've noticed the three stars have slightly different shapes. The one in in the logo has slightly more convex interior angles, which make it look more relaxed.

I think if you used the same relaxed shape in the favorite icon and badges, the association with the USA (which ultimately comes from the flag) might not be as strong.

To put it another way, and perhaps over-analyzing just a bit, the star should suggest slightly slouched shoulders, like a user in the flow state, rather than straight-across, like a soldier standing at attention or a basketball player poised to make a play.

  • good point. i've made some tweaks accordingly. although the tiny stars in the badges are hard to tell despite which type of stars I go with. – Jin Apr 21 '11 at 21:17
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I have absolutely no problem with the star in the logo. Iconography of a logo does not have to do anything with the actual product being represented by the logo, and in most cases it doesn't. I honestly can't even think of any logos where the product is represented via icon in the logo.

And the star is a fairly common graphic (both in logos and elsewhere). Take a look at the logo for Macy's:

Macy's Logo

It has a star in it, and what does a star have to do with a department store? Absolutely nothing.

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I generally agree with Charles that a mark is a mark, and doesn't have to represent anything.

However, a mark still ought to evoke the right feeling. Because of the strong connection of checkmark = answers, I think Vitaly's suggestion to integrate a checkmark is a good one.

So, here's a play on that idea, just for fun.

enter image description here

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    I like this logo, but it really isn't any different than what we have. A checkmark doesn't have any more meaning than a star. Your reasoning of checkmark = answers doesn't really make sense as a reason to include it on this site, unless you want to included it on every stack exchange site, since all stack exchange sites are about answers. – Charles Boyung Apr 22 '11 at 18:22
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    This looks terrible, IMO. The negative space between the upper half of the 'U' and the 'X' does not go well with the checkmark. I.e., I don't abstract a check mark out of this, I take out something looks like rabbit ears. – Uticensis Apr 23 '11 at 9:39
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    I understood this as a check mark instantly, whereas the star logo took me a couple glances before it registered. – Caleb Apr 25 '11 at 7:49
  • Before reading the text, I thought that this was a saw or a gear. It is difficult for me to recognize it as a checkmark even after reading the text. – Tsuyoshi Ito Apr 25 '11 at 14:56
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    +1 I am neutral on whether it's a star or a checkmark, but this logo has a better balance than the star. – Petrus Theron Apr 30 '11 at 10:20
  • Looked like a shark or something first. – bjb568 Jan 31 '15 at 19:35
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In general I think it's a very good design - very clean, not a sea change from the current site, and easy to engage with.

However, I find the "star" embedded in the logo to be without meaning (and an unfortunately amateurish touch in an otherwise professional design). In the badges etc it works okay as a simple aesthetic element.

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    @Gary, my interpretation of the star in the logo is that UX is the key element in any good design. It signifies importance. Can you explain the "amateurish" comment? I think the use negative space is quite well done. – Jin Apr 20 '11 at 16:42
  • @Jin. Sure. I don't see what a running shoe logo (think Converse)-come-Captain America shield has to do with user experience. – gef05 Apr 20 '11 at 18:21
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    @Gary just because one brand has a star, does that mean no other brands should use it? Also, I can see someone ask when the Converse logo was first introduced, "what does a star have to do with running shoes?" The implementation of the star in the UX logo is different from other brands that feature stars. – Jin Apr 20 '11 at 19:46
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    @Jin. From your OP: "Please let me know if you have any feedback." Cheers. – gef05 Apr 21 '11 at 12:34
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    @gary I appreciate your feedback, really! Please don't take my rebuttal as stubbornness. Certain design treatments are rather subjective IMO. Had I designed this instead of Dmitry, I don't know if I'd go with a star. However I don't see a reason why it shouldn't. As for your argument for not using the star, I'm just not convinced, since I feel it's your personal preference. – Jin Apr 21 '11 at 12:44
  • @Jin. No worries, Jin. And I don't mean to seem intransigent - simply offering feedback. – gef05 Apr 21 '11 at 19:10
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Hi Jin,

First, I must say that I was extremely impressed with the present design when I first found this website. It was one of the things that attracted me here, and as I explored the site more, I had lots of fun discovering new elements in the notebook theme. I was actually very disappointed to find out later that the design is going to change when the website graduates, and so far I still like it the most of all the other SE sites I saw (but there are some I didn't see...). So a great job there.

As to the suggested design - in general I like it. I agree with the clean and simple approach, and I think you nailed it. But I really really didn't like the star theme. On the badges and the Favorites icon it bothers me a bit, but not much. But on the logo it really feels like it shouldn't be there. It also reminds me very much of some other famous logo, but I can't place it right now. It think it's also blue-and-white, with a star inside, and possibly two or three letters. This is all very subjective, of course.

EDIT

OK, Jin, I'm not a graphic designer so the following might not look good, but as a concept - how about this?

enter image description here

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    It's common to see a star integrated with "USA" as seen in this Google image search – Nicole Apr 19 '11 at 23:47
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    @Renesis Thanks, that must be it. I wrote initially that it makes this look very US-centric, which is not the spirit of SE but then I thought that maybe it was just me. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Apr 20 '11 at 5:53
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    unlike our other sites that have a strong, more tangible visual association(cooking, gaming etc), the UX is rather abstract. When we think of UX, we think of how things work and flow, than just a particular end look. Since we decided to go with a clean theme, so the only "more graphical" element is in the logo. As for the star in the logo and badges, that's Dmitry choice. I think it works, as in it gets your attention, and still remaining simple. The logo also translates well to favicon, Apple touch icon and other media materials we may have later for the site. – Jin Apr 20 '11 at 16:36
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    @Jin, as I said, I completely agree with the clean and abstract approach. And I agree that the logo is good in itself, I just don't think it's appropriate to this website (and others seem to share this opinion). I think that something more typographical could work well. Also - maybe just use one of the standard controls. I think a simple checkbox could be a good basis for a logo. – Vitaly Mijiritsky Apr 20 '11 at 18:52
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    That checkbox looks really out of place and to me doesn't make any more sense than the star. – Charles Boyung Apr 21 '11 at 13:56

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