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!"

Design Concept

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.

Mood Board

Mood board

Color scheme

Overall, we wanted the site to have a clean lab like feel with a splash of bright colors in the header.

Color scheme


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.

logo explorations

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

sample illustrations


example swag

Stickers / coffee mug / t-shirt

Overall site design

Click image to view full-sized version.

enter image description here enter image description here

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!

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    $\begingroup$ This. Is. The. Best. Piece. Of. News. I've. Heard. Here. AWESOME! $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Okay. So now, as imgur is filtered in some countries, I was wondering if you would mind my changing the image links to i.stack.imgur. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ @MARamezani I had no idea about this. Can you see images in the posts, just not the larger site images? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Kurtis I can't see the images that are i.imgur, but I can see the images that are i.stack.imgur. For example, I can't see the image for mood board. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Got it. Thanks. I'll edit the post. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @MARamezani that should do it. The larger versions of the site are still on i.imgur because of file sizes, but everything else has been migrated. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Tanks! $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ This feels very rewarding for me as a regular contributor to this site. I think that a big applause for the "core" contributors is well deserved, especially Ron, Martin and Klaus (and many others of course!) $\endgroup$
    – Jori
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 21:29
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    $\begingroup$ This looks amazing, @KurtisBeavers. I can't wait. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ I love this so much! :D $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 2:37
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    $\begingroup$ These designs look great! You've done a brilliant job! $\endgroup$
    – user15489
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 6:18
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    $\begingroup$ What's the timescale we're looking at before the site is migrated/updated? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ @AriBenCanaan we usually give the community about a week to give all of their feedback and then we begin to finish all the assets. It shouldn't be too long before things are live unless there are major revisions to the design that need to happen. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ you have +100. good ;) $\endgroup$
    – Freddy
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 5:36
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    $\begingroup$ I also like the badge, it has some texture $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 14:13

6 Answers 6


I like the overall design, the logo is recognizable without being too cliché. But there is one aspect that bothers me a bit, though it might be rather pedantic.

The flasks and reaction apparatuses in the header don't really make sense. The individual flasks or containers are fine, but the combinations are not anything that you would see in a lab or that could work at all. I think there might be enough real glassware combinations to fill the header, so that we don't have to rely on implausible ones.

A standard reaction apparatus in organic chemistry would be something like the following:

enter image description here

A round-bottom flask with a condenser on top of it, heated by an oil bath (but you could just use a bunsen burner, as they already exist in the header). The total height might be a problem.

enter image description here

A distillation bridge like this is also very recognizable.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. We could easily and happily revise some of the glassware combinations. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 21:38

Overall, I really like the design. Certainly "benzene" speaks chemistry and I like the logo on swag. :-)

I also think the water-like vote buttons is a great touch.

No one has commented, but I really like the molecules in the background of the header. My initial response was also "wow, that's way too much glassware" but having the molecules in the background is wonderful.

Just to be pedantic, but could you post a high-resolution version of the green background. I think it would be good to "proofread" the chemical structures and make sure there isn't anything subtly wrong.

I helped with an art project where they etched chemical structures into a stone picnic table and there were several "typos."

Some minor nitpicky things with the glassware: enter image description here

The big blue-filled flask on the left should not have so much stuff in it. It's unsafe. You shouldn't heat anything that's more than half-filled (and better ~1/3). I'd also guess something will shoot out the side neck. You'd make me really happy if you could add a little tube condenser like a Graham or Allihn condenser on the top. Bonus, I think they look cool.

The apparatus on the right should have the test tube pointing diagonally "up" rather than down and to the right. It's clearly unsafe to heat a tube like this and it's not clear why you'd set it up like this.

These are really minor points, but I'm assuming you'd like us to make sure the design makes sense. If you can post a high-res or retina version of the green background, I'd be happy to check it too.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Geoff. If you click on the image of the site designs, you'll get a higher resolution version. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @KurtisBeavers I clicked on the images, but the background is still very blurry, possibly because of JPG compression. Would it be possible to publish a retina PNG somewhere? I can't make out enough of the chemical structures to proofread. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. Here you go: i.imgur.com/H4yeTe7.png $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible to get just the green background? That image still looks really blurry. I have a hard time making out some of the fine details. i.imgur.com/pDeprDA.png $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ You're not supposed to be able to read that background. It's a subtle detail (like old equations that have been erased from a chalkboard.) If it was clear enough to read, it would be distracting from the actual content of the site. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ I'm really wondering why this was downvoted. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ @KurtisBeavers Ok, but I'm wondering whether it's worth checking the non-blurred background. I like the concept, but hey, it's the Internet and if there's a typo, someone will find it eventually... why not now? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, alright: i.imgur.com/cJmsHHU.png $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. Proofreading would be good. I have not even noticed the obvious safety flaws in the design, good catch! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ i.imgur.com/jAT7E7v.png OK, I see one issue, one incredibly minor thing and one "huh, what is that". On the left, there's a double bond from the triangle to the H. It should be i.imgur.com/WaV1SCc.png $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ The circled piece on the very right looks like it should have an "O" where there's an empty space, but when it's "erased" and blurred, it's no issue. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ The "what is that" in the middle is the cube-like thing. Otherwise, it's all correct. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Kurtis I see problems with the iodine fluoride. Have a look at the structure posted by ron here:chemistry.stackexchange.com/q/29142/4945 there are too many dots in the one in the background, let me try to put that in graphics $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin I'm glad I have you and Geoff as editors :) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Kurtis realised, that the graphic in rons post is different, it is $\ce{IF7}$ not $\ce{IF5}$, here is the corresponding wikipedia page. I cut the dots that were too much here imgur.com/Aywfxcz (I hope that works...) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 19:17

Well, it looks very bright and colourful, just like chemistry is. Mostly green I guess. Well done on the text part of the logo (👍), implementing the tube as the "I" looks very neat. The benzene ... it is a different story. The overall arc, I think I like or at least get used to.

However, I have a few questions:

I don't know if it is the compression of the screenshot or not, but the links in the banner look very fuzzy to me, maybe bold is not the best choice here. The chemistry logo looks much cleaner in comparison.

fuzzy, not pretty

Related to this, it seems a little odd, that the banner "hangs over" at the sides - is that intentional?

I can appreciate the effort with the font, it looks a bit better now, as it is closer to the formulas. I personally find the bolder font set harder to read. But I also find sans serif fonts hard to read in general.

font stuff

Hence, I would prefer, something that is better to read, like in journals, where formula and text blends into each other:

jacs screenshot

Is there a particular reason, why you stick to a sans serif font? Compare Can we have a font that harmonizes with inline MathJAX?

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    $\begingroup$ Fonts—In print a serif font for body copy is usually easier to read because the serif ad hints to the letter shapes. On screen it's a bit different because of the lower resolution of screens, the tiny serifs become blocky and distorted. This is less so with retina displays, but there are still a lot of people who don't have retina displays. Some of this is preference. I find serif fonts on screen in large quantities of serif fonts on screen to be difficult to read unless I'm on my retina display or the font size is very large. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ Banner—The overhang was just to provide a surface for the glassware to sit on. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Navigation—The screenshot distorted a bit when it was compressed to fit the file size limit. The live version will be sharper. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Kurtis thanks for the reply. I just wondered, as they have serif fonts on math.se and it really looks quite good. But yeah all in all, I would say good job. Good to hear that the navigation will look sharper. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ No problem. Thanks for the feedback! We're open to considering serif fonts if the community feels strongly about it. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ I'd give +1 to a serif font. Granted, I use a retina screen, but I think there's support for harmonizing with MathJax. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for serif fonts! I use the cheapest screen I can get, and I can refer serif just fine. I prefer to be able to tell the difference between I, l, 1, and |, especially the first two. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ I am all for serif fonts, especially in the body part of questions and answers. The comments might stay sans-serif, not only because they are smaller and as such might make for harder reading with serifs, but also to visually enhance the difference between comment and content. $\endgroup$
    – tschoppi
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 17:16

Um, what's with the badge colors?

enter image description here

Could we replace the color codes for bronze and gold badges?

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, they're mistakenly reversed in the design comp. That's an easy fix. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ Haha, then I think I should delete this. But wait, should I do it after you correct the "typo"? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ It's updated. You can delete this post if you'd like. Tanks. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 21:37

This post is for THANKING design team to consider our suggestions.

Badges are as Suggested by Alpha and Freddy(that's me).

I have remember someone suggested Benzene.

Though "Accept Answer" idea suggested by John Snow here was not considered. Is it possible to keep that burner?

Thanks once again :)

  • $\begingroup$ Misspelling - It should be tanking... $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ No, thank you! I like John Snow's idea, but whatever icon we use needs to at the very least be in the shape of a checkmark—this is a user interface convention that we try to keep consistent from site to site. I'm not sure I understand if the burner can fit this criteria. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ @KurtisBeavers Yes there should be consistency, I agree. $\endgroup$
    – Freddy
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ The check mark is in the flame. I know that would be hard to show in the list formatting so I wouldn't expect it to be used, but i do appreciate the consideration. $\endgroup$
    – John Snow
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ Yes there is checkmark but it should be overall in shape of a checkmark. @JohnSnow $\endgroup$
    – Freddy
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 3:01

I like it, green isn't my thing, but it's nice there. However it my be my opinion but isn't benzene a bit cliche? I mean, its not a test tube (that would make a terribly cliche logo) but could we have a logo closer to www.chemicalize.org's logo, a visually appealing chemical that isn't Benzene? Naphthalene is nice, and pyrrole would work. But other wise it's nice. Hope this didn't seem like a rant on the evils of the cliche benzene.

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    $\begingroup$ Meh. We're only overcomplicating things if use a molecule less popular than the ol' benzene. Why would it be a cliche? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @MARamezani because benzene is always used in association with chemistry sites. $\endgroup$
    – tox123
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ Frequency in using something doesn't mean it's a cliche. It's only a cliche when repeatedly seeing it is annoying and monotonously unexciting. Dunno, but it seems this isn't true for many folks here. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it is true for me. It is not as cliche as the jelly benzene, but very close. But then again it should be recognisable for all audiences, so I think it is a good choice. I also believe, we are way past the point where this complaint will have any effect. $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2015 at 9:06

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