Of the 7 essential meta questions for every beta site, there's exactly one that has never been asked here. What should our logo and design look like? Anyone have any ideas? As we are probably getting fairly close to the end of our beta period, let's start throwing some ideas on the wall and see what sticks.

Just for clarification, the logo should be recognizable at 16x16 pixels, but still look cool when seen from a larger size.

Background information: every site receives a custom theme done by a professional when it leaves the beta period. Stack Exchange's official designer is Jin; the beta look, the Area 51 look and the look of most launched sites are his handiwork. The theme will be heavily based on community feedback; this thread is a first round of suggestions.

  • I think a complication is that the logo should be understandable at very small size (which is roughly the size of avatar pics in the user box), so complexity of the logo will be limited.
    – apoorv020
    May 22, 2011 at 18:19
  • 3
    thank you for starting this conversation early!
    – Jin
    May 24, 2011 at 7:54

11 Answers 11


Right now I have some concepts in my mind, but nothing concrete. The imageries I'd like use to set the mood is going to be on the more subtle side. To me, science fiction and fantasy novels rely on readers' own imaginations to fill in the gap when it comes to visuals. For that reason, I don't want to use graphics that are too explicit. Also I want to make sure the header graphic doesn't overwhelm the content of the site.

I'm a big fan of space and planetary arts. I think for the site's background it'd be a dark space theme. (not the content area though, it will be lighter for easy readability).

sci-fi concept

I can see something like this being the top header(not this exact one). Of course, this one reflects sci-fi only. Maybe a silhouette of a flying dragon added to the right. Some other ideas of mixing sci-fi and fantasy elements: Mechs + faeries, retro and futuristic architectures etc.

As for the logo, I think a combination of some futuristic interface elements and arcane circles may work. I like to keep the logo simple though since they'll be used for other purposes too, favicons, apple touch icon, print media etc. So maybe a circle with some abstract shapes inside.

I think it's important that we all agree on the "mood" the final site design should set. For every site I've done, the challenge lies in getting the appropriate emotional response from the targeted audience. So to me the overall design direction is far more important than the implementation of specific details.

  • 1
    The mood should be very dark IMO. Any of These fonts would work for the logo.
    – Chris_O
    May 24, 2011 at 13:42
  • 3
    I support this dark mood. I like this image as a basis for a top header. No "funny" little aliens, please.
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 15:24
  • I agree a planetary scape would be fantastic. Not too dark tho, lol. A brilliant array of color - for fantasy sake. Add a space port, flying ships... etc... May 31, 2011 at 15:38
  • 1
    Make the sprites around the planetary image a blue sci-fi computerized interface. May 31, 2011 at 15:39
  • 1
    The Star Wars-style fonts, while cool, would make this look like a Star Wars site. Aug 21, 2011 at 5:35
  • @Jin JFC3 says to make sure the colors are accessible. (He is my co-worker)
    – DampeS8N
    Sep 6, 2011 at 20:31
  • 1
    @DampeS8N well he'll have to bribe me with tons of bacon...
    – Jin
    Sep 6, 2011 at 21:07
  • @jin Is the official design coming soon? If you have anything to show us for comment, I think the timing would be great, because some users start to be impatient.
    – DavRob60
    Oct 24, 2011 at 12:26
  • 1
    @DavRob60 yes I am. I plan to present a initial design soon.
    – Jin
    Oct 24, 2011 at 16:53
  • @DavRob60 Deleted my question - thanks for pointing this one out to me! Unfortunately, the mobile site doesn't give any suggestions of similar questions that have already been asked. :/ Oct 25, 2011 at 23:24
  • @Jin The attached photo is nice, but why don't you include any artificial object in final current design? meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/1323/…
    – user931
    Jan 27, 2012 at 12:01

I'd like to propose a design based on the LCARS interface, just so we can all agree it's been massively overused since skinning and theming was invented and doesn't reflect the fantasy aspect at all, and then we can move on.

  • The guy who invented LCARs probably got a raise for every rounded corner. Nov 22, 2011 at 22:18

It's perhaps too twee, but the Starfleet logo shape could possibly be used for the up/down vote shapes (like bicycles.se has road sign shapes).

Starfleet lgoo

  • 1
    I guess a generic (fat?) rocket shape would be similar and avoid lawyer wrath.
    – Tony Meyer
    Aug 16, 2011 at 5:59
  • 1
    How about an even-more simplified version of the Starfleet logo? Like this, for example. Aug 21, 2011 at 5:48

Something that combines both science fiction and fantasy. Maybe laser pistol and wand (or sword)?


I like the idea of those stickers that libraries used on the spines of SF/F books. Stuff like this:

enter image description here

Or, perhaps this:

enter image description here

(The rocket one has the drawback of being more sci-fi-ish and less fantasy-esque.)

The rest of the site design can follow suit, very minimalist and clean.

  • I would personally prefer a more serious, darker theme. But I see the merits of these icons.
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 15:17
  • 1
    They can be white-on-black in you like, but I think a slightly cartoony theme makes the site more accesible. May 29, 2011 at 21:04

I prefer more minimalist and abstract web design. I don't see that we need to be so literal with our logo and graphic treatment. What we should do is make the site's interface look and feel like it is, itself, from something sci-fantasy.

Maybe something in shiny white plastic and chainmail? Fantasy armor with new materials. Something like these:





Anyway, that's my take on it.

  • Nice images. Oh my God, he's going to turn us into a giant I-pod!!
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 15:19
  • @cerberus. LOL, I can see the iPod, but think iPod with blades/armor/lasers. Therefore, better.
    – DampeS8N
    May 29, 2011 at 21:46
  • 1
    I grovel before the giant, armed iPod, then!
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 22:14

Dieselpunk/Art Deco styled SciFi Awesomness

I love the idea of retro-futurism. It reminds me of the cult scifi mags back in the 50's and I think would give a good, classic feel to our SciFi site.

Some inspiration:

enter image description here

  • I love this style! Got any good links to more of this? Nov 28, 2011 at 11:29
  • I think I just googled "SciFi Art Deco" or "Dieselpunk" Nov 28, 2011 at 19:05

Can we steal some of the design from area51.SE? Because quite a bit of that overlaps nicely with the Sci-fi portion of our focus. Add a flying dragon to the moonlit skyview of the area51 top banner, and we're golden.

  • I have absolutely no right to speak on this matter, by my personal preference would be a darker theme, not the cartoony one from Area 51...
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 15:16
  • 4
    @Cerberus We all have a right to speak on this. The community is making this decision.
    – user1027
    May 29, 2011 at 18:37
  • Yes, but... I feel that those with a more comprehensive impression of this website are more equal than others. It may be a bit impolite to barge into a website I don't know and say I disagree.
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 18:46

The classic sign for a Sci-fi site would be something like a rocket ship. That would easily go with that portion of things. Here's a list of things which could be cool.

  1. Flames: This could be from a wizard, or from a rocket ship, but a plume of flames would easily work for both.
  2. Space Ship
  3. Dragons would be good.
  4. A single ring
  5. Glowing city
  6. Some kind of a large jewel in an amulet of some kind

Of these, I prefer either the flames, or the glowing city. But I just thought I'd toss a few more out there.

  • Maybe a wizard throwing fire that's also the exhaust from a rocket?
    – Jeff
    May 25, 2011 at 14:17
  • @Jeff: If you only show the fire, you don't know what it's coming from. It could be a wizard, or a rocket, so... May 25, 2011 at 14:18
  • 1
    A planet might work too, as they are used in both genres alike.
    – Cerberus
    May 29, 2011 at 15:21

Maybe a 4D cube for a logo (tesseract for those who like long and complex names)? For instance as a simple stuff which is impossible in real world but happily live in imagination.

enter image description here

Different projections: Wikipedia, Google.

  • Works as more of a math thing than anything else, I think. Pretty neat, though. Aug 21, 2011 at 5:50

What science fiction and fantasy have in common (and is basically the definition of speculative fiction) is that they are "what if?" works. A logo with a symbol that represents the "what if?" (like a question mark) would be good. To emphasize the science fiction and fantasy part, some small images representing tropes/pop. culture like laser guns, wizard rods, volkan salute could be included.

About the interface, I like the default black and white we have now. Among all the other sites I use, custom interfaces are too distracting.

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