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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.

I've been working on the design for this community for a while, and I'd like to present to you a concept I came up with. During my research for the design, I looked at countless Christianity-themed art work for inspiration. They range from ancient masterpieces to contemporary arts, varying in styles.

When it comes to visual design, my goal is to capture the "right feel." It's a fine balance between establishing the right mood without making the design cliché; Making the design visually interesting without overwhelming the actual content. The design should feel Christian without being denomination-centric.

After talking to many of my Christian family members and friends, I think the design should reflect humbleness and peacefulness, and the beauty of God's creations.

please click on the images below to see the full resolution versions

Homepage home page design

Question View question view design

I picked a sky-earth theme for the design. It creates an open and airy feel and the design is "grounded." Throughout the site, I'm using vintage typographical embellishments as decorative elements to offset the minimalist design within the content area.

There are other subtle visual elements to convey the Christian theme further, e.g. the Fish symbol for badges and the bottom of the header can be interpreted as The Book or dove wings.

Overall I'm pleased with the design. I feel it accomplishes the design goals I set. I'd love to hear your feedback. If there are no major design changes, I'd like to launch the site next week.

  • 8
    I like the fields. What's going on with the footer though? The CC BY-SA logo seems to be just floating there, all alone... – Shog9 May 14 '13 at 5:13
  • The CC-SA logo is simply what we of faith look forward to - the City whose builder and maker is God! (Heb 11, and yes, I'm just having some fun) – Affable Geek May 18 '13 at 15:15
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    I really like it as it is with no change needed. That's all I have to say, so I leave it as just a comment. – Mike May 23 '13 at 10:50
  • Nice job! Think is unique. – tunmise fashipe Jun 3 '13 at 19:55
  • Looks like you gave yourself 1182 extra reputation! XD – Phonics The Hedgehog Jun 13 '13 at 23:54

13 Answers 13

15

So, my first reaction was negative, but within a minute or two, I found myself liking it more and more.

Theologically, you are making some really nice points that I hope are saved in any event:

  1. The feathered nature of the Book is front and center. The white turns the Scripture into a dove - a nice metaphor for Jesus' Baptism, and his association as the Word. I really, really like it.

  2. The field at the bottom had me scratching my head for a second, and then I heard, "Behold, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." (Matthew 9:37). Living on a farm, I like the wheat (no tares!), and it really spoke to me. Kudos again!

  3. The font is great. I really like the "Christianity" centered, and with a cross.

  4. The dominant color - a beautiful shade of blue - is one often associated with God (God being in the heavens). I like that the focus is on God, and not on man.

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    These are the really strong points of the design and I really hope that they survive the revisions. The field might be overstated, but I like the imagery it suggests. – wax eagle May 14 '13 at 13:06
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Thanks for getting this to us, please know we really do appreciate it. And we understand that this is a massive and difficult undertaking. That said.

To me, this art feels counter to what we are going for as a site.

This art feels very inspirational and sort of sappy. Whereas we're a site dealing with hard doctrinal truths and trying to be more academic than inspirational. An overstated design like this doesn't exactly fit the site we are trying to create.

I agree with Jon about the lesser elements. The dove's wings/Bible are fantastic. I'd actually be pretty happy with dropping the clouds from the header and just having that as a the site's main imagery.

Can we get rid of the cross in the title and just keep the subtle one in the scroll work? I think that's a bit better.

I like the choice of blue (and the specific shade you used here).

Upvote and down vote buttons are great, I like them very much (same with the accept check mark).

Those fish are omg cliche. But they are a small part of the design and can stay if they need to.

The footer sort of evokes thoughts the field scenes from Gladiator to me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I like the idea of the field as that's common biblical imagery, this might be a bit over the top though.

Lastly, I'm wondering if the background needs to be white. It seems very clean to me, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Overall, I feel like the tone is just off. It's a good design, it just doesn't fit this site and the community we are trying to build.

  • Agree; except I like the cross in the title. – user32 Jun 3 '13 at 21:42
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This design is very pretty. Kudos on coming up with a design concept that actually skirts the myriad of potential pitfalls. I am not an artist, but to my eye you've successfully avoided the church site feel. I especially like the little details. The voting arrows, badges and other little touches are great.

However I think that in the process of dodging the land mines we also managed to miss the main target.

  • The whole design feels kind of light and ethereal. Unfortunately we don't really want to target light and ethereal questions. We want meaty questions with hard ties to documented positions. The stuff we want to attract is more academic than abstract.

  • It captures the forward looking eternity minded nature of Christianity, but Christianity also has a past. It's grounded in history. In fact as far as our QnA site is concerned, the historical stuff is more of our focus than the future stuff.

  • The header has a nice flow from that the stuff up top into the body. The footer on the other hand seems a little disconnected. One end of the content has a nice book end, the other almost ... is it's own thing down there. The color scheme fits but it somehow feels tacked on instead of a way to close out the page.

I'm not sure where to go with any of these and they may not even be the main issue, but somewhere there is an issue. I throw these out in hopes that it helps somebody identify them. Also one little detail seems to take a different tack than the subtle clues in the rest of the design: the cross letter in Christianity is attractive, probably ties the whole header together, and is very cliché.

5

First off, thank you for the design! Your task was impossible to begin with, so I think this is a great start. However, I'm not comfortable with some aspects of the design. Starting from the top:

  • The ichthus (and especially the simple, two-arc version) is very cliché. I do like the idea of fish for badges because of the various miracles around lots of fish in the gospels. I'd rather see a more realistic/stylish fish. Perhaps something closer to:

    Historic fish.

  • The clouds are a good idea, but they are a touch too ethereal, breezy, and, I don't know, optimistic? It makes me think this is a site for people who already believe and there's no room for people who disagree. I'm not sure what to suggest. I suppose storm clouds are the wrong tone too. Maybe a night sky instead?

  • As always, you've done a great job on the decorative design around the site name, menu and boxes. But the white lines blend into the clouds on the banner. Also, the blue of the letters don't contrast enough in my eyes.

  • I like the title font, but that cross in the center of "Christianity" doesn't sit well with me. It seems too clever. I think you embedded the Trinity in the banner (light from the Father, cross for the Son, and wings for the Spirit). But I don't think it's worth the cross being so obvious. Perhaps if it were smaller (a lowercase 't' in the same font, say) it wouldn't bug me.

  • I do like the wings/book leaves. The little cross in the center is a nice touch (if there weren't a more obvious cross right above).

  • Is there enough contrast between the text and background of the tag labels? It looks like it will be hard to read for some folks.

  • I don't know what to make of the wheat field. Yes, it's grounded and there are lot's of images surrounding seeds, fields, harvests, etc. in the Bible. But it just seems so Bible-belt. (Also, and this may be silly, I worry about a "broad path". Won't it lead to destruction?) It's also so far down, I don't know how many people will see it.


Some questions:

  • What color is the downvote arrow when you click on it? (I kinda hope it's a fiery red. ;)

  • The decorations around the arrows remind me of snowflakes. Was that the intention?

  • Is there any way to put more of the "Culture/Recreation" sites and fewer of the "Technology" sites in the footer?


The design is growing on me as I look at it. I think I would be comfortable with it fairly quickly. However, I suspect my first impression is not unique. I worry that we would be dismissed quickly by people who are interested in Christianity, but not Christian culture.

  • Well I disagree with the symbolic objections. I like all of it except what I will list in an answer later. – fredsbend May 14 '13 at 4:23
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    I definitely like the downvote color being firey red. – fredsbend May 14 '13 at 4:29
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    With regards to the footer image, I actually first thought of a path; the path of God's will. With regards to the badge icon, perhaps a better symbol would be the Triquetra? I don't know where I'd incorporate the fish symbol though. – El'endia Starman May 14 '13 at 6:23
  • I like the simplicity of the "stereotypical" ichthus; simplicity has a part in Christian tradition. For the cross in "CHRIS[cross]IANITY", perhaps a Tau cross (somehow stylized to be recognizable--INRI probably would not fit on the horizontal beam, perhaps red dots at the nail points? [I am not a graphic designer!]) would be more subtle? – Paul A. Clayton May 14 '13 at 23:04
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It's beautiful, creative, and practical. It feels like what Christian teaching would look like if it were visual. I like that it's modern, light, and comfortable.

I think we ought to be careful not to draw too many symbols and metaphors out of the site's design, which is merely a design, after all, and should be practical more than a teaching tool. I don't think this concept is really misleading or idealist, because Christianity's teachings are peaceful and beautiful, whether the visitors are believers or not. This site is to ask and answer questions about Christianity, and because of the variety of denominations and beliefs, the design should be agnostic to basically anything except core beliefs and culture, which I believe this is.

Personally, I feel like this design is quite effective. The vote arrows do look a little like snowflakes, but they still look nice and decorative.

As usual, good work.

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Overall, it is pretty darn good. Well done.

Biggest issue: I really don't like the image at the bottom. Can't quite say why.

Firey Red for the downvote color is an awesome idea.

The light blue for the questions title links does not contrast enough. It needs to be a shade or two darker.

I like the symbolism that is already there. I would like to see too things captured better:

  • Christianity ruled the modern world in medieval times. I would like to see that exemplified with more scroll work. The scroll work on the right side bar is almost enough, and is surely enough on the arrows and favorite star, and I would like to see much more of it around the question header and the horizontal rule at the top of the question list. Definitely need tons of scroll work on the profile pages.

  • Christianity, like most religions, is about God communicating with Man and man communicating back. The top image reminds me of Michelangelo's famous "Creation of Adam" painting on the Sistine chapel. It would be awesome if you would put just the part where the hands are almost touching among the clouds there. Just enough of it so people recognize where it is from.

  • It took me a moment on the fields too, but once I did - "Behold, the harvest is plentiful, but hte workers are few" I really, really fell for it! – Affable Geek May 14 '13 at 13:07
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The book/dove merger is, of course, awesome. A very clever idea, very well executed.

The corn* field is possibly European, but given its scale is more likely American. It's definitely not Middle Eastern. A field that size, with a tractor-track through it, is perhaps a little off. A path through a field should be a narrow path made by human feet. I don't know about hedges, but I suspect that one way or another the field should be smaller, and perhaps more winding, as human-made paths often are (not convoluted, just a slight curve).

And that sky: it's not oppressive enough. It doesn't make me swelter, and think longingly of shade. It does not remind me of the sheen of a bronze bowl. Do you think perhaps it should?

It is, of course, perfectly possible that I'm talking utter nonsense.


* I'm Irish: I don't use corn as a synonym for maize, the way you Americans do. That's a wheat field. Wheat is a corn.
I was going to add something here about the destination of the path being indistinct, but I don't know whether what's promting that thought is a genuine aesthetic sense, or merely a certain penchant for irony combined with my position here as an atheist hanging around a Christian site.

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I like it, on the whole. Coming up with a design which everyone is broadly in favour of and which viscerally offends no-one is a tall order!

Taking into account other answers, could I suggest

  • a night sky, or dark-blue evening sky, perhaps with a prominent star?
    • the title lettering would become white, which could mean that a traditional cross-shaped flare on the star might become the T in the middle of Christianity
    • the bottom image could become a dark blue night-time scene
    • most blue lettering would become dark blue, which might also help those who need more contrast
  • changing the six ornaments on the arrows etc to four in a cross formation to look less like a snowflake
  • using a consistent font for all elements. Currently I count at least four in use on the page.
    • I certainly prefer the Garamond-lookalike to Times, Goudy and Georgia.
  • Those are great suggestions! I'm a fan of Goudy in general, but Garamond is a fine choice as well. I wonder if we could get two designs: one for local daytime and one for the night. (That might be asking too much, however. ;-) – Jon Ericson May 25 '13 at 0:06
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    @JonEricson Bicycles has a daytime for main and a nighttime for meta – wax eagle May 25 '13 at 0:27
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Grant you, I really wanted a mosaic (and Peter Turner really wanted sheep), but I could go with this. I agree that the cloud might attract light and ethereal questions, but frankly Theodition Mosaics would probably be way too heavy and academic.

Mosiacs

If the others convince you to back to the drawing board, I'd definitely suggest looking at the Haiga Sophia for inspiration or similar things - but I kinda like the fields too... :)

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    yeah, if there's a farm, I don't see why there's can't be at least one (or 100) sheep, there's not a lot going on on the left side of that pastoral setting. – Peter Turner May 14 '13 at 20:59
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Wow. Very nice. Overall, very polished.

A few thoughts.

  • I like the fish for the badges. Fairly generic, but very identifiable with Christianity.

  • I like the book as well... I may have liked an old scroll a bit better, but this is good.

  • I did think that it could be cool to have an old church in the field rather than just what looks like an old farmhouse. Perhaps something like this.

  • One other option would be to have the sea of Galilee at the bottom with some fishing boats, rather than the field.

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    I don't think showing a church building is a great idea. Buildings are too closely identified with specific denominations. The sea idea seems sound enough if it comes to needing to change the field. – Caleb May 15 '13 at 16:47
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Excellent, I was a little worried the final design would be more like Patheos or something sterile, but a field is not sterile and that's about all one can hope for on the internet. And it's not Thomas Kinkade-ish either, which is the highest compliment one can give a modern pastoral.

I guess there's nothing distinctly Catholic about this design, which is OK and probably better than doing a mishmash of symbolism. I just hope that the theme doesn't somehow emphasize Scripture over Tradition that would make Christianity.SE a much more Protestant site than it currently is.

In any event, it's pretty exciting to have a real site! Great job!

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I like the clouds, scroll work, and sky; but I kind of wish that the road could lead to a city rather than greenery and farm buildings (but a cube would rise too high into the sky area and a non-symbolic city would present even more difficult representational choices as well as taking up too much space). Presenting the road as having an upward grade might be nice--both upward calling and difficulty of travel (but likewise would presumably not fit in the available space).

If sheep were added, I would be tempted to ask for a lion (but a lion with a shepherd's crook would not fit the realism of the scene!).

It is impressive what a competent graphic designer can do!

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I liked it. Very appealing to eye and a great design with a right theme especially the farm which looks like it's ready for harvest. One thing I missed in it is that there are no workers to be found. It should not sound like “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (or none here). To quote the relevant verses:

Matt. 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 9:38 Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

Wouldn't it look pertinent to have a few workers harvesting the farm? Or may be not.

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