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My name is Paweł, I’m a product designer at Stack Exchange. I’m super happy for you, because the process of graduation is about to be concluded! Congratulations to all of you!

New Design

The new design comes with a few perks. It will give you your own unique theme that reflects your topic, culture & community. This will help brand your site as unique, even while you share common elements with other sites that show you are part of a bigger Stack Exchange family.

Design Concept

Pattern

The idea behind this design was simple: create something that fits Your Community. A community of extremely smart people. A community of people who's profession changed history (I mention this because I'm from Poznań, Poland where the history of Enigma Cryptographers is well-known). Honestly, I was super impressed reading some of the questions and answers on your site. Impressed by the amount of knowledge you people have (and kinda depressed by my lack of knowledge). And because of that I was very honored to be working on your site's design. So I did some research, and found out that nowadays cryptography is something completely different from what it used to be in the past, and I tried to respect that knowledge in the designs & branding I prepared for you.

I've seen all your ideas and they were really great. I tried to incorporate some of them in the design, but I wasn't able to use everything while keeping with the existing guidelines.

As for the main pattern, I wanted to come up with something simple, creative and community-centric. So I put some of YOUR code in the header background. Yes, I used one of your proposals, but I have a feeling you can come up with some other code/string blocks. So how about proposing something we could use as a pattern? That would be a really huge brick in building this new design.

Color Scheme

Dark blue - main color. It represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

Lighter blue - accent color. It mostly represents information technology which, I believe, nowadays is part of your profession.

Plus a few complementary colors.

Color Scheme

Logo & Identity

Logo

I didn't want to use just a simple lock icon, or one of Enigma rotors or Cryptex (from 'The Da Vinci Code' ;))... I wanted to use something more symbolic. Something that was a metaphor of a few elements:

  • Lock
  • Key
  • Vault
  • Puzzle

SWAG

Here are some examples of how it can be used elsewhere to strengthen the visual identity.

T-Shirt

Notebook

Stickers

Overall Site Design

Here’s what you were waiting for…

Home

Question

We believe the design and branding work very well for this community. It’s unique and captures the right mood. We’d love to hear your feedback, and if it proposes no major design changes, we’ll launch the new site design very soon.

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  • $\begingroup$ The style of text for the logo makes me think more of ancient civilizations than of high-tech mathematical thinking. $\endgroup$ – bjb568 Dec 8 '15 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ Hey, how does one get the swag?! ^_^ $\endgroup$ – cnst Dec 9 '15 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ I'm still in love with the design. I'll have to produce the swag myself though, and I was slighly disapointed with the T-shirt given the design above. I'm still wearing it though. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Oct 3 '18 at 2:27
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I really like this design, it looks great! Like, 90% awesome!

Things I really like:

  • The logo. It's perfect! It's simple and clean, it works great at any size, it looks modern and professional and it's not some overused cliché like a padlock. It does hint at the lock-and-key metaphor, but only as one possible interpretation, which I think is great!

  • The overall color scheme looks nice. The palette you showed could maybe use another, warmer accent color, like sandy brown; the mockups further down do include some warmer shades e.g. in the meta sidebar, and they seem to work pretty well with the overall bluish color scheme.

Things I'm a bit dubious about:

  • The title font. I can see where you're trying to go with it, and it does look OK e.g. on the swag samples, but overall, I find it just a little too distracting and gimmicky.

    (That said, I do like the geometric sans-serif feel in general; it's just the funny Rs and Ps and the O that distract me. And I suspect I'd get used to them eventually.)

  • The dark header color. Actually, my main issue with that one is just that it could perhaps make our design look a bit too similar to Security.SE.

  • Also, the contrast between the bold white text and the dark blue background in the mockups is a bit jarring, especially with the texture contributing to the overall busyness of the header. Shading down the text color in the header just a little, or maybe adding a slightly lighter color field behind the header links, might fix it. So could just tweaking the fonts.

  • The badge icons: crop from mockup. The new logo is nice, yes, but I'm not sure it needs to be repeated in the badges. I know the recent trend has been for fancy badge icons, and these are definitely not as obtrusive as some other recent examples, but I'd still personally prefer the simplicity of a plain circle or maybe a square.

    (Also, I really wish someone would finally fix the styling of badge icons in the notifications menu, but that's only tangentially related.)

Things I'm missing:

  • I'm just a little disappointed to see no data flow diagrams. But, honestly, I'm not sure where they'd fit in the design, without making it too busy.

Overall, despite all the bits of criticism above, I really think this design looks excellent, and I'd be happy to go with it, even as it is. I'm sure the final version will be even more polished than the mockups above, and the suggestions I've made above should be taken as just that — possible ideas to maybe keep in mind while finishing up the design. If they're helpful, great; if not, that's OK too.

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I like the color scheme. I think the logo looks cool. The Cryptography text is cool (my only suggestion there is to have the bar above the o).

For a pattern, I would love to see something more from the foundations of cryptography. I suggest taking a look at TikZ for Cryptographers. The images are free to use. I don't think the author is a member of this site, but we can change that :)

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    $\begingroup$ that's a good idea. if they are open source then it would be great. also, i may need your, community, help with it. I don't know cryptography topic that well to do it. I may need some simple schemas/images/codes/whateveryoucallit, with relativly thin lines.. it can be mixup of more elements, and they have to be repeatable. $\endgroup$ – Paweł Dec 8 '15 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ also, how about using some coded message? like smily face PNG crypted somehow? or any other message. (just thinking out loud) $\endgroup$ – Paweł Dec 8 '15 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Paweł, I don't think a coded message would actually work (maybe some test vectors would, but they're sooooo boring). Cryptographers tend not to like things that aren't fully documented (see NIST ECC). Some (modern) historical pseudo-random string may be the best choice. See this list of first MD5 collisions (which had a huge practical impact). Maybe the break of SHA-1 (freestart) may give some nice strings or one could use the famous RSA-Challenges. $\endgroup$ – SEJPM Dec 8 '15 at 19:56
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Looks great!

I share the doubt about the title font that Ilmari Karonen mentioned. Other than that the only, minor problem I have with the design is the green color. The green text on the white background looks really hard to read.

Also, a question: what does the favorite tag highlight look like? Currently with the beta skin I can't see the subtle light yellow background on most screens at all, except from weird angles where colors get distorted.

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Hm...

The logo is perfect.

I agree that the font is unusual. That being said, it works.

The color scheme is perfect.

I'm excited to see a new design on this site.

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