The design of Skeptics Stackexchange seems rushed, messy, and dated.

Here are just a few things that have jumped to my mind since joining:

  • The paper background texture in meta. It looks pixilated. It is barely visible on some screens and just adds noise, making the site look messy.
  • This jagged corner. As far as I can tell, we're the only Stackexchange that has this layered look, and I don't think it is executed well.

    enter image description here

  • Another background texture. This is even more noise. It appears faded on many monitors to the point that you have to strain your eyes to see what it is. It adds noise to the page and looks messy.

  • Our logo is jammed too tightly together in my opinion.

Those are all just minor points, but they all contribute to an overall feel that to me is a dark and uninviting brand. The focus on paper and an attempted imitation of physical layers evokes an old, inaccessible presentation of science, rather than the present and future of free access to information and evidence. Our design is the messiest of all the StackExchanges. It's possible to pull off a dark theme (see scifi.se), but it's a very clean theme, with well thought-out fonts that fit the mood of sci-fi.

If I put work into a redesign with consistent choices to accentuate whatever we want our mood and brand to be, is that something that would be considered? Or does it have to be an internal job by StackExchange employees?

  • I guess SE have no bandwidth for making design changes: meta.stackexchange.com/a/254454/139866
    – ChrisW
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:55
  • @ChrisW, I don't think this is the case. Apr 30, 2015 at 7:12
  • @georgechalhoub I base that one this statement to another site 6 weeks ago: "Unfortunately, there has been a long backlog of sites waiting for their custom site design"
    – ChrisW
    Apr 30, 2015 at 8:11
  • @ChrisW, what do you mean by "SE have no bandwidth"? They can't cover the cost? Apr 30, 2015 at 8:24
  • @georgechalhoub I meant that their web designers have too many other projects (too many other sites) to do already, at the moment. But if Sklivvz says this one is going to be reviewed, then who knows.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 30, 2015 at 8:57
  • @ChrisW meta.stackexchange.com/questions/253359/…
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 30, 2015 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Sklivvz That post says "new design" but it might mean "new CSS implementation of the same design", whose biggest visible feature is the new-style user profile. I.e. it's only talking about "base css updates".
    – ChrisW
    Apr 30, 2015 at 11:03
  • 2
    @ChrisW as part of that new implementation, there's a review happening. If you can make a good case here, the designer might implement some of the suggestions, or be convinced to re-examine some choices. Ask Different got a different design...
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 30, 2015 at 12:24
  • I don't see why you shouldn't. If they really are on a tight schedule they might be glad of your help. You could even get a job out of it, who knows? :)
    – Benjol
    May 1, 2015 at 8:48
  • Related: meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1548/…
    – Sklivvz
    May 1, 2015 at 14:33
  • Related: meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1601/…
    – Sklivvz
    May 1, 2015 at 14:33

6 Answers 6


I like the suggested image of a book-shelf suggested above:

enter image description here

  • Warm or living colours (notwithstanding what Sklivvs said about Blue is the color of science)
  • Very suggestive of finding references (those look to me like books kept for reference)
  • It seems to me that brown is the color of bookshelves, whereas books are generally multicolored
    – Sklivvz
    May 3, 2015 at 8:40
  • In fact, the dominant color in your picture is 997f57, which is a brown. It seems to contrast with my interpretation of what you mean by "living" color, maybe you can give a more specific example? Sorry for the double comment :-)
    – Sklivvz
    May 3, 2015 at 8:48
  • No problem and thanks for your comment[s]. I see it as red (but a faded red, active or warm but not danger-warning), green-and-brown (mostly), with splashes of sky-blue. And perhaps importantly it's not (just) a (single) book-shelf: I reckon that's from a whole library.
    – ChrisW
    May 3, 2015 at 9:04
  • Green and brown are 'living' in that they're the colour of leaves and wood. Even the red is 'living' in that it's like a (dancing/moving) flame. Non-living colours imo include yellow (sun and sand), blue (sky and sea), beige and silver (stone and metal).
    – ChrisW
    May 3, 2015 at 9:45
  • Apart from "living", there's "lively", "vivid", etc.: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vif
    – ChrisW
    May 3, 2015 at 10:04

The design is going to be reviewed!

As part of the new CSS implementation, there's a review happening. If you can make a good case here, the designer might implement some of the suggestions, or be convinced to re-examine some choices. Ask Different got a different design...

Please use this question to suggest what needs to be fixed (not necessarily bugs, but also bad design choices).


This answer can collect images that convey a mood/concept that you think would be a good fit for this site. I don't imagine a designer would actually use elements present in any of these images (i.e. I'm not suggesting literally using books as part of the design, but they convey a respect for information), but this is a good exercise for communicating a mood not easily put into words. Some of these might appear to conflict, but that's okay.

  • 2
    I like the book-shelf best: warm or living colours; and suggestive of finding references.
    – ChrisW
    May 1, 2015 at 6:53

There are a few things which are, in my opinion, completely wrong:

  1. Dark backgrounds. They are distracting because they offer too much contrast. Moving all the grays towards lighter tones (e.g. #AAA) makes the site much more readable

  2. All images. They are bad!

    • The body background is simply distracting, the opposite of what it should do, focus the eye on the content. Try turning it off and you'll see what I mean.
    • The eye at the bottom of the page is... I'm not even sure what Sean was trying to do there
    • The question feed icon is dark grey on black and out of center
    • In general all "ON" images are dark and with less contrast that "OFF" images. What's that about? It's the opposite as it should be.
    • The logo. It's yellow. It's yellow on fricking white or yellow on fricking black. It's off center in some cases. It's not unreasonable to expect the logo to look perfect! I can't even
    • The "paper" noise. Maybe I miss the point but it's just bad looking, gratuitous noise.
  3. Typography. It's hilariously bad.
    • The top nav has a small font, but hey, it compensates by being ALL CAPS. That's just stupid. Give it the correct size and remove the SCREAMING ALL CAPS.
    • "Ask Question". It would be a flashing neon sign if it could. Seriously, now.
    • The links. By default they look like normal text. As such, there's a bunch of links which are invisible.
    • There's small fonts everywhere. Why? I thought we wanted the site to be legible...
    • At least we're not using Courier New like the first attempt at a design, but a site with a topic such as our should use Serif, like a scientific paper or a book page and not sans-serif like TV lower thirds or the Daily Mirror. Or, keeping sans, it needs to be postmodern, like an infographic, not 1940's as it currently is.
    • The headings are smaller than normal text. Why?
  4. The colors, they are wrong and show no research whatsoever.

Minor thing, but: On Stack Exchange sites, the username of the asker of a question is highlighted when they post a comment or an answer. On most sites, this highlight is a light blue or grey. On Skeptics, the highlighting is an extremely light yellow, which is extremely low-contrast to the point of being almost invisible.

  • [Checks] OMG! You are right. I won't say I've never seen that highlight, but I never associated it with any meaning.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    May 4, 2015 at 9:07


I'm going to start an answer that just lists different concepts that we might want our brand to evoke. Feel free to add!

  • evidence
  • logic
  • information
  • investigation
  • questioning
  • open-mindedness
  • rationality
  • science
  • accuracy
  • research
  • methods
  • clarity
  • positivity
  • hope in the future
  • trustworthiness
  • knowledge
  • facts

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