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Shalom! I'm Jin, I work on the designs 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 and culture. However, all sites will share common elements so they feel like they're part of the Stack Exchange family.

First, I'd like to thank Isaac Moses, HodofHod, msh210, Double AA, Monica Cellio, Shmuel Brin and other chatroom regulars who provided me with valuable tips and feedback during my design process. The answers from an earlier brainstorming design session were helpful too.

The overall aesthetics I'm going after is a warm and inviting one. Visually, the design should have a good balance of traditional Jewish motifs and modern elements. The imageries should reflect authenticity, but not used in a clichéd way. Ultimately, I'm trying to capture a "feel." The design should feel relatable to the community members and welcoming to the new comers.

Logo

A common theme in a lot of Jewish brands' logos is the inclusion of the Star of David. It is the most recognizable Jewish symbol after all. I want to use it in our logo as well, but in a more subtle way. The logo should have multiple layers of meanings as it reveals itself. It should be symbolically descriptive and stand out from the rest of the Jewish sites' logos.

Logo

The logo is inspired by Tree of Life. Its branches subtly form the Star of David. The main branch and the "o" in "Yodeya" make up a question mark to reflect the Q&A nature of our site. The tittle in "Mi" is a falling leaf, which further bonds the logo mark and the logo type. The Hebrew letters of Mi Yodeya are embedded in the tree as hanging fruits.

Site Design

(please click on images to view the full resolution versions)

Homepage

Question Page

I'm using the floral ornaments as the main motifs of the site. Their organic forms complement the logo and add polish to the rest of the site design. I've also used suggestions from the other post: yad for icons, crowns for badges, and propeller for sidebar dividers.

In the footer, the watermarked roots tie in with the Tree theme in the logo, add more completeness to the design as a whole.

I'm happy with the design, I believe it captures the feel I was aiming for. I'd love to hear your feedback. If there are no major design changes, I'd like to launch the site next Tuesday.

Again, thanks to all who helped me with the design process, and an early congrats from me for your upcoming graduation!

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    Beautiful! Thank you! – Monica Cellio May 2 '12 at 11:58
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    It's great. Thank you. I would like to know if any other users have an issue with the use of the word "Shalom", before the description of the site. Try Googling "shalom" and see that the current associations of the word. I would prefer "Welcome". – Avrohom Yitzchok May 2 '12 at 13:22
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    I like the subtle designs for dividers and borders (e.g. propellers, the box around the welcome message and the one around the question title, the divider underneath the question and the one under the "masthead"). It gives it a "Vilna Shas" sort of feel. – jake May 2 '12 at 14:44
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    @AvrohomYitzchok Thanks. For the new user welcome box text, I'm just using what's on the site currently. (you can see it on the homepage if you're not logged in, or in browser incognito mode). Maybe the mods can answer this? We can update the text to whatever. – Jin May 2 '12 at 14:53
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    Beautiful design! My only gripe is that the "crowns" used for the badge count rub me the wrong way. Maybe I'm crazy, but they remind me of christian / messianic imagery. – Dave May 2 '12 at 15:04
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    Beautiful design, and thanks so much for all your hard work on this and for keeping in constant contact with the community as you went along. I'll post some specific aspects I don't like about it as answers (so that people can up- and downvote them and we can get a feel for whether anyone agrees with me), but bear in mind that those are (I think) the only things I don't like: in general, the design is wonderful. – msh210 May 2 '12 at 16:01
  • Now that jake mentions it, did you (Jin) consider using a box styled after the one here? (the big one with the word יציאות inside it) – Double AA May 2 '12 at 16:07
  • @Dave עיין לקמן – Double AA May 2 '12 at 16:08
  • An image (rather than PDF) version of the page @DoubleAA linked to, with a box around "יציאות". – msh210 May 2 '12 at 16:10
  • @DoubleAA what are you thinking about using that box style for? sidebar boxes? – Jin May 2 '12 at 16:21
  • @Jin I'm not really sure. It's definitely the most recognizable fancy-box that I can think of. I first connected it to the box around the question title (in question view) because that already had some styling. But I guess it could be for the sidebars. I just didn't know if you'd considered it, because I don't remember anyone's suggesting it. Do you think it would work anywhere, or is it too <adjective>? – Double AA May 2 '12 at 16:26
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    @Jin (Just FYI: that page is the first page in the Talmudic tractate Shabbat, and a similar page, with the first word similarly boxed, is at the front of every tractate in the standard editions of the Talmud. I guess it's kinda like our version of a fancy dropcap.) – Double AA May 2 '12 at 16:28
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    @DoubleAA I did consider that, along with some other type of patterns. The reason I didn't use it for the sidebar boxes is because: 1) sidebar borders need to be thin, because of the info density. If the border is too thick then I'd have to increase the padding, therefore less room for the content. Also if we have several boxes stacked, it'd overwhelm the content on the left. 2) that border style at a thin width is not as aesthetically pleasing; it'd become thick lines of blob because details are lost. – Jin May 2 '12 at 16:30
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    @JonEricson It was intentional. Jin and the community felt that the Star is a bit cliched and overused, so Jin had the excellent idea to make it much more subtle. We're glad it worked! – HodofHod May 14 '12 at 23:31
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    This new design is really sleek! Kol ha'kavod to those who worked on this. – minhag Jun 4 '12 at 0:36
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I think the "Ask Question" link atop each page should be highlighted relative to, or at least look different from, the other headers on its line, since it is semantically different.

  • This was effected. Thank you, Jin! – msh210 May 9 '12 at 7:24
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I think the crowns are too status-y. Badges aren't worth that much on the site, and oughtn't be considered so valuable. Crowns are symbols of royalty.

  • Should Dave's concern be put in a different answer? – Double AA May 2 '12 at 16:05
  • @DoubleAA, I guess so. – msh210 May 2 '12 at 16:07
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    The crown badge idea was suggested by Isaac and I went with it. I wasn't able to think of a better alternative. I definitely do not want to use Star of David for the badges, especially since we have gold(yellow) badges. – Jin May 2 '12 at 16:24
  • @Jin, tbh I can't think of another idea, either, except geometric symbols. I agree stars of David would be a very poor choice. – msh210 May 2 '12 at 16:32
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    How about leaves, to fit with the rest of the motif? Personally I think it would be fine to just use generic icons here. – Dave May 2 '12 at 16:36
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    @Dave, The crowns in the above design strike me as quite similar to the taggin found above select letters in the k'sav ashuri, which I'm not opposed to being used as badge symbols. – jake May 2 '12 at 16:50
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    As an alternative, perhaps we can use the zahav, kesef, n'choshes association by having some symbol which incorporates a zayin for gold, kaf for silver, and nun for bronze (although, maybe we can consider it copper to fit in here). – jake May 2 '12 at 16:54
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    Actually I kind of like the open book idea. Something like this: creativebits.org/files/wrapbook-1.jpg It's very much about learning and scholarship. – Double AA May 2 '12 at 18:42
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    ...though I suppose those would look like fleurs de lis (⚜), which may not be the best choice, – msh210 May 2 '12 at 19:10
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    @Jin - another possibility - candle flames – Isaac Moses May 2 '12 at 21:05
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    @Jin - Silver flames could possibly work as a badge if not as a likeness of real flames. – Isaac Moses May 2 '12 at 21:24
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    @jake, the latter (too subsetty) IMO. – msh210 May 2 '12 at 22:57
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    How about using the image of an ancient shekel (some examples on the wiki page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shekel)? However, it might not look good if it's too small. – Dave May 3 '12 at 1:03
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    Actually, I'd prefer something like our current badge symbols (disks with 'lighting' from one side) to most of the suggestions above (crown, fedora, tagin, t'filin box, m'nora, and others). – msh210 May 3 '12 at 18:38
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    @msh210 That was my idea (somewhere in chat) - have continent-less worlds (as Tzadikim are rewarded with 310 worlds). – Shmuel Brin May 3 '12 at 23:44
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I think the tittle-leaf of the i in mi should be over it, i.e. farther left than it is now, so it more obviously is connected to the i. Like in http://i.stack.imgur.com/VVIr8.png.

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    I'm not totally set on this yet. But feel an off centered tittle-leaf is more playful, and it's not far away enough from the lower portion of the "i" to be unrecognizable. The distance provides a more natural feel to it, as if it was falling onto the i. Of course, this is just my personal preference. – Jin May 2 '12 at 16:23
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While I like @Jin's beautiful design, I have one usability problem with it.

My fingers have long ago learned that the site brand (which is generally a clickable area to go to the home page of the site) should be on the top left of the page. Here it is in the middle, so it is harder for me to use.

I see that due to the size and shape of the logo, that would be hard to do here, but maybe it is worth considering?

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    Are you suggesting the logo be in the corner, or that the logo be where it is but that the corner also be clickable? – msh210 May 9 '12 at 22:44
  • I was actually thinking of either of those options. Ideally, the logo would be in the corner, I guess, but if that would break the design too much, maybe just extend the clickable area to the left. – Avi May 10 '12 at 5:56
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    @Avi Thanks. It may just be your muscle memory getting used to the logo on the left convention from the Beta theme. Give it a few days I'm sure you'd adjust to the new layout. There are several other SE sites that use similar layout, for example, TeX, English, Math, IT Security etc. – Jin May 10 '12 at 8:12
  • I think the logo wouldn't work in the corner (also consider the roots at the bottom of the page). Making the whole banner clickable would be a solution if it doesn't interfere with other links. My muscle memory was messing me up at first too but I'm almost over it now. – Monica Cellio May 10 '12 at 14:22

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