So here comes a good news that Chemistry SE is graduating soon. (Update: we have graduated now! Yay!)

Chemistry Stack Exchange has a steady flow of high quality questions and answers, and a growing number of users contributing to site health and maintenance. You're on a consistent upward trend, and the Community Team (of which I am a member) has taken notice.

Chemistry SE will be graduating soon. Congratulations!

from:Congrats, Chemistry SE is graduating!

Also in her post @Ana mentioned,

The SE Design Team will begin drafting site designs for you. I should warn you though, the team is a bit backlogged, and it may be a couple of months before you see our designers drop by to share mockups. Don't fret; graduation is on its way.

So I was wondering won't it be a good thing to get some design idea from the users themselves. I mean if designers are in any kind of dilemma regarding the designing issue then our mature chemist users will more be able to provide me chemistry-ish design.

Physics Overflow do follow this idea, in fact they are having a tag named 'design' on their meta site (I know Chemistry SE is also having one but is there any 'design' tagged discussion out there in Chemistry Meta). Some of it's meta discussion includes,

Designs for a more "physics-ish" 404 page?

Ideas for vote button design?

Simplifying the editor

It's a good thing. Isn't it?

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    $\begingroup$ I think badges design should also change. I was thinking they should be small test tube shape or something like that related to chemistry. In short badges should not be as they are at present. $\endgroup$ – Freddy Sep 24 '14 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ We can certainly make suggestions, and they are normally very well-received, but the final call is up to the designers. $\endgroup$ – jonsca Sep 24 '14 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ These are wonderful ideas all around, keep up the great work guys!! I have featured this post in the community bulletin to get more responses. $\endgroup$ – jonsca Sep 28 '14 at 2:15

10 Answers 10


I'd definitely like to see an improved editor (i.e., with the $\ce{}$ buttons and help) added. Anything that makes it easier to write out formulas will be highly appreciated by new users.

I wouldn't mind some notion of "alchemy" since that's where chemistry started. While I do quite a lot of computational simulations, I still like images of test tubes and retorts.

Maybe the background image could include semi-transparent line structures of common molecules like caffeine, aspirin, etc.

I think chemistry is a very visual subject and hope the site design can incorporate some interesting graphics.

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    $\begingroup$ For your viewing pleasure: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/67605/alchemy $\endgroup$ – LordStryker Sep 24 '14 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ We had an alchemy tag once and i remember there was some dispute. We have however a history tag. But i agree, that our history should be reflected in the design. Chemistry is a fairly old topic, it would be foolish to ignore that. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Sep 25 '14 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of having some molecules in the background, but the designers should upload to meta images of all molecules they intend to use so the community can ensure they're all actual molecules. Too many websites and graphic designs have completely implausible molecules in them! $\endgroup$ – nhinkle Oct 2 '14 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @nhinkle I think a better idea would be for us to suggest some common molecules for designers to use. :-) $\endgroup$ – Geoff Hutchison Oct 20 '14 at 19:25

Badge Design Ideas

Being fully aware that these brainchilds of mine might be outright ignored, here are two ideas for the badges:

  1. This is a more traditional, "chemistry is all about the lab" kind of take on it: Erlenmeyer flasks! Just colour them gold, silver and bronze.

    This is, however, also more of a cliché; we now have the opportunity to strive to better the perception of the public about chemistry. It's not all about poisoning yourself in a lab...

  2. Here is the more serious suggestion: Elemental plates. I was thinking of slightly bevelled, round-edged squares that are of the badge colour. And on these plates is engraved the element that it corresponds to.

    Au and Ag are no-brainers, and I was thinking about the bronze badge. Maybe Cu is all right, but that entails a renaming of "bronze" to "copper". If someone has an idea for this, I'm all ears.

    A possible drawback here is that the badges are far too small to be able to legibly "inscribe" the element symbol on such a plate.

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    $\begingroup$ As a computational chemist I would have to disagree with your first point. :P $\endgroup$ – LordStryker Sep 24 '14 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ @LordStryker FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 24 '14 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ I love the elemental badges idea, though I agree that they would be teeny. What about simple text of that color? Brown Cu for "copper" badges, etc. Still has the problem that copper != bronze though :/ $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 24 '14 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth Apparently when it comes to design I'm just a non-contributing critic. $\endgroup$ – LordStryker Sep 24 '14 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ @LordStryker When it comes to design, I'm probably worse :P $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 24 '14 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ Bronze is primarily copper. $\endgroup$ – Ian Sep 29 '14 at 20:59

Physics Overflow isn't an SE site, they have their own processes.

Yes, we are allowed to suggest designs, some other sites have done this in the past.

I recommend use of the jelly benzene as our logo!

I had a theme I was working on here, but I'm not so sure it still works. I planned to use charged cyclopropanes for the vote buttons, and green benzenes to mark accepted answers on the front page.

Here's an old sceenshot of the theme I'd come up with:

enter image description here

The background is random, I just thought that the benzene looked nicer with a dark background.

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    $\begingroup$ I personally hate the jelly benzene and I have for many years but its not a dealbreaker for me or anything. $\endgroup$ – LordStryker Sep 24 '14 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ I really like the charged cyclopropane idea for the voting buttons! $\endgroup$ – tschoppi Sep 24 '14 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @LordStryker Heh, sure — I don't mind nothaving it either, I've just always liked it. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 24 '14 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe we can render a benzene with "cloud" orbitals? I know some friends who wrote these kinds of things: davidlonie.blogspot.com/2011/07/… $\endgroup$ – Geoff Hutchison Sep 24 '14 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ I thought after graduating beta would be removed. $\endgroup$ – Freddy Sep 25 '14 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ @hey this is a skin, which I made to apply on the beta theme. At that time we hadn't graduated, so the beta would still be there . $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 25 '14 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth I know Physics Overflow isn't an SE site. Also I know that they have their own processes and also they are a bit efficient (at least in this case). Se the main thing that I wan't to convey is their process itself. Further your proposed design is really good. Especially your jelly benzene logo, however the background is giving a bad contrast. We will need to work on the tab design and the sidebar design also. $\endgroup$ – Saharsh Sep 25 '14 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Alpha The background was random -- Jelly benzene looked really bad on white so I tried black. This is an old, incomplete design, I know we need to work on everything else -- I assume the SE design team will do that :P $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 25 '14 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth That's alright but are site designers implementing these suggested ideas? $\endgroup$ – Saharsh Sep 27 '14 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Alpha I don't know. I'm not an employee, and I suspect they'll post the design when they get to it — there's still time for that since there's a large queue. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 27 '14 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth Can't you being a moderator promote these ideas? $\endgroup$ – Saharsh Sep 28 '14 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Alpha Yes, I can, but this meta thread is enough for now -- they look for thee before starting, and ask for plenty of suggestions once they have a tangible design too. Like I said, there's still time for design to start, so I wouldn't worry about it now. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Sep 28 '14 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ I really like that! $\endgroup$ – L.B. Oct 14 '14 at 23:32

Okay, I gave this some thought and here are some initial images i could think of.

In terms of an image at the top and center This old image that illustrates combustion is really rad. Something done in this style might be cool.

Another possibility is the Bucky-ball, which is thought provoking but might also be confused as a football.

In terms of an "Answered" logo, i thought a Bunsen burner might be fitting (obviously the combination of this and the combustion one might be too much.) Done something like this:

For badges, maybe something like the Bohr-model?

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    $\begingroup$ Bunsen burner idea is too good. $\endgroup$ – Freddy Sep 27 '14 at 5:51

We should also have some nice up vote and down vote buttons. It should be related to chemistry.

I am most impressed by Academia's vote button.

I was thinking of simple arrow which we use to show gas and precipitates. But don't know whether it will look nice or not.

enter image description here

For badges something like this can be done.

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    $\begingroup$ Arrows towards energy levels might work as well. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Sep 25 '14 at 10:34
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    $\begingroup$ @MadScientist spin-up/spin-down electrons? *shudders :) $\endgroup$ – LordStryker Sep 25 '14 at 11:23

What about the orbital spin direction arrows for the vote buttons? I imagine they would be recognized by most people.

For example,

up and down harpoons with a line through the middle

Then we could have votes be in halfs, because spin values are $\frac{1}{2}$ and $\frac{-1}{2}$. (Just kidding on that last part).

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    $\begingroup$ While the concept is good and conceptually reasonable, I think it would look ugly given the asymmetric nature of the arrows. $\endgroup$ – LordStryker Sep 29 '14 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ True. The best way would be to combine them and have the score underneath, but I don't know how much that pushes the limits of SE. $\endgroup$ – Ian Sep 30 '14 at 1:51
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    $\begingroup$ @LordStryker I really liked this idea. Few changes in design (like color or strokes) can make it look much better. $\endgroup$ – Saharsh Oct 1 '14 at 16:00

Considering @tschoppi idea of Erlenmeyer flasks I had designed these badges.

Here are the chemical flask badges that I'd made. Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Or these ribbon like designs,

  • $\begingroup$ I like the ribbons! $\endgroup$ – John Snow Sep 29 '14 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ Ribbons are awesome, but maybe need a different color scheme. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Dec 26 '14 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MARamezani I had colored them Gold, Silver and Bronze, as per the SE sites tradition. $\endgroup$ – Saharsh Dec 27 '14 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be better if the gold was more golden and the silver was more pure? I don't mean the color itself, but you could make changes to the rgb code. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Dec 27 '14 at 9:06

Since the site is graduating I feel like there should be some improvements for our website user interface.

I believe that for each and every different website there should be a different text editor that meets the user's needs.

So for chemistry I feel like there should be a button that does the following:

  1. Person clicks the item he wants to format.
  2. The button automatically does this: $\ce{"Person's text"}$.

There are two types, one that does the inline formatting: $\ce{"text"}$ & one that does break-line: $$\ce{"text"}$$.

I know that this might be a lazy way of doing things but I believe that it will promote more users to format their posts more efficiently thereby improving the look of Chemistry StackExchange as a whole.

So should we do this?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, I think it's important to have some level of customized formatting buttons. Hopefully that will come up when we get further along in the design. $\endgroup$ – Geoff Hutchison Apr 2 '15 at 18:18

I found some alchemist symbols for gold silver and bronze (brass).

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    $\begingroup$ Your alchemist symbol idea is really good but Chemistry SE is more firm about the logical (or practical chemistry). Area51 is having another proposal for Alchemy site. One will need to be practical with the design. $\endgroup$ – Saharsh Sep 28 '14 at 16:39

My thoughts:

Perhaps something along the lines of a Bunsen burner for the logo, or maybe just some flasks filled with chemicals.

And for badges, I always did like the picture of the planetary model of the atom.

Also, as a user I would like a preview function like in mathematics stackexchange when answering a question for the sake of ergonomics.

  • $\begingroup$ We have a preview already. $\endgroup$ – ManishEarth Oct 4 '14 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth OK. $\endgroup$ – Sherlock Holmes Oct 11 '14 at 6:01

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