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Congratulations, Data Science community! We’re going to be creating a custom site design for you that we hope will represent your subject and we want you all to really love it. You’ve been waiting almost five years and we really want to do this well. To facilitate this, we’re reaching out now to ask you for what you’d really love to see in the design and logo.

If you don't know me, I'm Catija, one of the Community Managers here at Stack Exchange. I'm working with the design team on a project to get site designs to some of the sites that have been waiting the longest. My role here is to help share your ideas for your site design as well as any feedback you have about the design later in the process.

A quick history lesson about site theming

Originally, site designs were part of the site graduation process. When a site left beta, they'd get their design. But, at the time we only had one designer who was working on designs and the designs were very specialized and often involved a lot of custom illustrations. We got into a situation where several sites were in queue for graduation but the designer didn't have the bandwidth to actually create the designs.

Before I worked here, I asked the question - Can Beta sites slated for graduation get full-site abilities without site design upgrade? - on MSE. This kicked off several discussions within the CM team of the time and community members and the eventual decision was to implement "Design-independent graduation" in September 2015. This meant that many sites were finally able to leave beta without waiting on a design - including this one!

At that time we also had much more strict guidelines for when a site could graduate - they had to consistently get 10 new questions per day. This level of volume made graduation impossible or very unlikely for many sites - meaning many would stay in beta forever. As such, the CM team considered another request I made - Let's break up with "Graduation" and remove a bunch of "Beta" labels - and that's what eventually happened, too. In 2019, we removed the beta label from 29 sites and another 59 in December 2021.

We've also gone through several design systems changes, including launching Stacks version 1.0, which make creating and building in designs much simpler for both our design team and the developers. In fact, we showed off how flexible it could be in our April Fools prank this year "Filters for Stack Overflow".

What to expect

Over the next few weeks, we'll be communicating with you about your site design, so please help us out as much as you can. While we may not be experts in data science, we know that you are and that you have great ideas about what you want this site to look like - so share them with us! You've got a week now to pool up your thoughts in answers to this question, at which point I'll pass them off to the designer working on this site.

They'll spend some time working on a design based on your guidance, and we'll be back when it's ready to show you what the design and logo look like. At that point, y'all will have a week to make suggestions for adjustments to the design. Our hope is that there will be little that needs adjusting but, due to the size of our backlog, we can't allow more than one phase of feedback, so any changes will need to be recommended at this point.

We'll then consider the changes proposed and make any adjustments that we feel are beneficial. Changes that are too big or are out of scope likely won't be possible, but we'll make sure to explain why we opted against making a change should that happen. Please understand that design is often a subjective thing and we may end up with community members differing in their opinions, so we'll be taking that into account when deciding. Decisions about the final design will be made by the design team and CMs with the concerns of the community taken into account.

Also, it's worth keeping in mind that the goal of these designs is to make something topical, unique, and attractive, but we'll be designing within the scope of our newer site theming. We'll be able to create a logo, background colors, and textures in addition to your logo - but please don't expect illustrations like what you may have seen on some of the older site designs.

Process

Over the next month or so, we’ll be going through a few steps to get your site design up and running. This post is the first of those steps. I’ll also be using this post to track the phases in the table below.

Step Status
Information Gathering complete
Design V1 complete
V1 Feedback complete
Design adjustments (if needed) complete
Developer cleanup and shipping of final design complete

What we need from you

As I've mentioned already, we need some inspiration from you so that we can get started on this design and create something you'll really be proud of. I poked around and found a discussion or two about when a design might happen but I wasn't able to find any existing discussions about logo or site designs that had much in the way of ideas, but if I've missed them, please link them in a comment so we can find them. We're really looking for design ideas rather than needing you to design anything for us.

When you're answering this question, think about:

  • What symbols or images are important to the subject of this site?
    • Especially things that speak to insiders that we might not find on our own
  • Are there any colors that are tied to your subject?
  • What tone/mood/feeling would you like your theme to emit? While this is subjective, it helps to set some design guardrails. So, when answering your thoughts, some good axes to mention are where the theme might sit inside these spectra
    • From fun to serious
    • From classic to modern
    • From simple to complex
  • How could a good logo represent your subject?
  • What are things to avoid?

If you have any questions, let me know! We're really looking forward to hearing from you and getting your site design underway.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be nice to think about (though I have no idea how to incorporate this into the design decisions) the overlap and distinctions between this site and stats.SE (and SO, and ai.SE). $\endgroup$
    – Ben Reiniger Mod
    May 16 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ The final design is now live! See this post for more details: New design launched $\endgroup$
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    2 days ago

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At first sight, it's a tough one. I would have suggested maybe something like a decision tree, but https://cs.stackexchange.com/ already has a tree structure. https://dba.stackexchange.com/ has a common data symbol. Perhaps some kind of graph, like a histogram or something? Or a simplified NN architecture?

I agree with Ben Reiniger's comment; it will be important to think of this in relation to closely similar SE sites: statsSE, aiSE, maybe even https://opendata.stackexchange.com/.

About the specificity of this site, I don't know if this can be integrated in the design, but I think that compared to statsSE (and perhaps aiSE too?), this site tends to be more practical, probably more open to beginners' questions, and probably less clearly structured (I'm tempted to say "a bit messy", but that's not something we'd want to emphasize ;) ).

I don't have any strong opinion on the mood the design should convey. Probably as a trendy technology, it should go more on the modern side. To some extent, data science is often about extracting simple/clear insights from complex data... I don't know if this kind of idea is usable!

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  • $\begingroup$ A histogram seems like a great idea! Or maybe a simple plot of a time series. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    May 30 at 5:20
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For logo, because "data science" is a fairly ambiguous umbrella term, I think something quite generic is best. We are not just machine learning, or neural networks, or big data, or dashboarding, or ...

To fit the actual name, "data" "science", might be cleanest; to grab a random stock example: https://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/stats-science-lab-logo-icon-design-vector-22915983

We're definitely on the modern side of things. I first thought "complex", but I really like Erwan's suggestion that our business is converting complex data into clear insights; the background element might be able to convey that sort of transition?

I don't see DS as any particular color. Foremost, make it clearly distinct from the SE sites with overlap.

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Two things that come up a lot when talking about data science are these Venn diagrams showing the different areas that data science combines and the data "flywheel". While I think individually they are not good representations, a combination of the two, for example a spinning Venn diagram, might be a cute idea.

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