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Congratulations Islam SE community! We’re going to be creating a custom site design for you that we hope will represent your subject and we want you all to really love it. You’ve been waiting almost five years and we really want to do this well. To facilitate this, we’re reaching out now to ask you for what you’d really love to see in the design and logo.

If you don't know me, I'm Catija, one of the Community Managers here at Stack Exchange. I'm working with the design team on a project to get site designs to some of the sites that have been waiting the longest. My role here is to help share your ideas for your site design as well as any feedback you have about the design later in the process.

A quick history lesson about site theming

Originally, site designs were part of the site graduation process. When a site left beta, they'd get their design. But, at the time we only had one designer who was working on designs and the designs were very specialized and often involved a lot of custom illustrations. We got into a situation where several sites were in queue for graduation but the designer didn't have the bandwidth to actually create the designs.

Before I worked here, I asked the question - Can Beta sites slated for graduation get full-site abilities without site design upgrade? - on MSE. This kicked off several discussions within the CM team of the time and community members and the eventual decision was to implement "Design-independent graduation" in September 2015. This meant that many sites were finally able to leave beta without waiting on a design!

At that time we also had much more strict guidelines for when a site could graduate - they had to consistently get 10 new questions per day. This level of volume made graduation impossible or very unlikely for many sites - meaning many would stay in beta forever. As such, the CM team considered another request I made - Let's break up with "Graduation" and remove a bunch of "Beta" labels - and that's what eventually happened, too. In 2019, we removed the beta label from 29 sites - including this one - and another 59 in December 2021.

We've also gone through several design systems changes, including launching Stacks version 1.0, which make creating and building in designs much simpler for both our design team and the developers. In fact, we showed off how flexible it could be in our April Fools prank this year "Filters for Stack Overflow".

What to expect

Over the next few weeks, we'll be communicating with you about your site design, so please help us out as much as you can. While we may not be experts in Islam, we know that you are and that you have great ideas about what you want this site to look like - so share them with us! You've got a week now to pool up your thoughts in answers to this question, at which point I'll pass them off to the designer working on this site.

They'll spend some time working on a design based on your guidance, and we'll be back when it's ready to show you what the design and logo look like. At that point, y'all will have a week to make suggestions for adjustments to the design. Our hope is that there will be little that needs adjusting but, due to the size of our backlog, we can't allow more than one phase of feedback, so any changes will need to be recommended at this point.

We'll then consider the changes proposed and make any adjustments that we feel are beneficial. Changes that are too big or are out of scope likely won't be possible, but we'll make sure to explain why we opted against making a change should that happen. Please understand that design is often a subjective thing and we may end up with community members differing in their opinions, so we'll be taking that into account when deciding. Decisions about the final design will be made by the design team and CMs with the concerns of the community taken into account.

Also, it's worth keeping in mind that the goal of these designs is to make something topical, unique, and attractive, but we'll be designing within the scope of our newer site theming. We'll be able to create a logo, background colors, and textures in addition to your logo - but please don't expect illustrations like what you may have seen on some of the older site designs.

Process

Over the next month or so, we’ll be going through a few steps to get your site design up and running. This post is the first of those steps. I’ll also be using this post to track the phases in the table below.

Step Status
Information Gathering in progress
Design V1
V1 Feedback
Design adjustments (if needed)
Developer cleanup and shipping of final design

What we need from you

As I've mentioned already, we need some inspiration from you so that we can get started on this design and create something you'll really be proud of. I did find some prior discussions about site design and logos (including this one from 2012) so if there's anything you want still really love from these, please bring it up here. We're really looking for design ideas rather than needing you to design anything for us.

When you're answering this question, think about:

  • What symbols or images are important to the subject of this site?
    • Especially things that speak to insiders that we might not find on our own
  • Are there any colors that are tied to your subject?
  • What tone/mood/feeling would you like your theme to emit? While this is subjective, it helps to set some design guardrails. So, when answering your thoughts, some good axes to mention are where the theme might sit inside these spectra
    • From fun to serious
    • From classic to modern
    • From simple to complex
  • How could a good logo represent your subject?
  • What are things to avoid?

If you have any questions, let me know! We're really looking forward to hearing from you and getting your site design underway.

4 Answers 4

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Just a few general thematic considerations:

  • Mainstream Islam is aniconic, so depictions of living creatures (especially people) should probably be avoided, or be heavily abstracted.
    • Islamic art has a long history of calligraphy and complex geometric patterns rather than realistic depictions of living things.
  • The Pan-Arab colours (black, white, red and especially green) are strongly associated with Islam. As a colour scheme it shouldn't be too controversial, but due to the pluralistic nature of the site I'd still be a bit worried about making it feel too Arab-centric.
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    I remember the Kaaba being a fairly impartial. Other things that came up were not as neutral. May 23 at 5:11
  • 2
    I second the geometric patterns - even if depicting living things were an uncontroversial issue there would be no need to do so because it would be an unnatural choice given historical Islam's role in the development of the field of geometry and the long tradition of geometric art in Muslim civilisations. I would stay away from any sort of association with flag colours, especially those from Arab countries; the vast majority of Muslims in the world are from Asia - and by the same token I would also find it unusual to make use of the colours of the Indonesian or Pakistani flags. May 27 at 14:48
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The Shahada, i.e. the text - لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله - This can be displayed linearly in the middle or right hand side of the top banner. It can also be compressed to make an icon for the site when using some calligraphic styles. Following are some examples, there are a lot of other styles and fonts which can be used:

enter image description here

enter image description here

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This might be a bit too complex to display properly for logos and icons and whatnot, but I mocked up the word "Islam" in square Kufic calligraphy, colored with the StackExhange blue gradient:

The word Islam in square Kufic calligraphy

Same image, reduced to single-pixel width lines: A small version fo the word Islam in square Kufic calligraphy

Another one I made up for "Islam Stack Exchange":

The words Islam Stack Exchange in square Kufic calligraphy

Not quite square this time, and I took some real liberties with some of the glyphs to make them fit, but I still think it looks cool. I'm sure someone more experience than I at square Kufic calligraphy can do a much better job.

I don't know that these are particularly useful for anything as-is, I made them more as a proof of concept than anything else. I do think the style itself is a good one to consider for background elements etc., since even if people don't know or understand Arabic, they still make for interesting geometric patterns.

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Another possible symbol is the seal of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), which was used on the letters that he sent.

كان نقش خاتم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم محمد سطر ورسول سطر والله سطر

The inscription on the ring of the Prophet (ﷺ) was in three lines: 'Muhammad' on a line, 'Messenger' on a line, and 'Allah' on a line.

Bukhari , wording of Jami at-Tirmidhi

Below is a rendition of the seal from from wikimedia commons, scaled to 48x48, 32x32 and 16x16.

Muhammad_Seal.svg

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Muhammad_Seal_asymmetric.svg

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It might also look nice with some alternate color and texture.

The smallest icon might be improved by zooming in on the text. For example see this alternate square 16x16 image: enter image description here

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  • Something I also had in mind. It's a shame what this icon has become associated with in recent years, but it's a nice idea to be able to re-appropriate it from that context. May 31 at 2:36

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