I’m Kurtis, senior product designer at Stack Exchange. First, I wanted to congratulate you because this site is now starting the process of moving out of beta to become a fully-graduated site! Well done!
Graduation and Your Site Design
Graduation comes with a few perks. We have already started your site's design, which will be a reflection of the chemistry site's subject and culture. This will help brand your site as unique, even while you share common elements with other sites as part a bigger Stack Exchange family.
Once the design goes up, you will receive a link in the footer of other sites in the network, along with the ability to migrate content to and from other sites — and the notoriety of a public launch that says, "Congratulations, you finally made it!"
For our Chemistry's site design and branding, We wanted to have use the community's ideas and come up with a way to show both the theoretical and a applied sides of chemistry. We also look for inspiration that was simple, scientific, and academic. We've gathered some artwork we found online for setting up a mood board.
Overall, we wanted the site to have a clean lab like feel with a splash of bright colors in the header.
For the logo we were looking for a balance between an accurate representation of a molecule and a unique symbol that represents this community. Based on community suggestions here and here, we decided to focus on the benzene molecule because of it's simple hexagonal shape and aromatic hydrocarbon configuration. We started by exploring different ways we could make an icon that would be simple enough to scale to a very small size and still remain recognizable. At the top of the image below are a few early iterations.
At the bottom of the image above is where we landed. OK, before you say "but all five carbon atoms should be the same color", read on — the different colors are intentional as they represent the diversity of all the Chemistry site users from different backgrounds and locations. And the delocalized structure of electrons in benzene is symbolic of the exchange of ideas. So if you were out wearing a t-shirt with the logo and someone were to point out the color, you would then have an entry point into a conversation about the site.
Sample Site Illustrations
Stickers / coffee mug / t-shirt
Overall site design
Click image to view full-sized version.
We considered a few different options for the site's font given that this community uses a lot of MathJax. Finally, we decided to stick with a sans-serif font that has a similar x-height to the MathJax font — this way the equations stand out but don't look too different from the surrounding text.
After we receive and implement the community's feedback, we're just a few steps from finalizing all of the assets and publishing your new design!