39

UPDATE 22 Feb. 2016

Looking at your comments, it seems like we need to tweak a few things:

  • Capitalize the word "Learners"
  • The bookmark should start "inside" the books and not below
  • A colored bookmark will be better

Updated logo 2

I chose red for the bookmark as it's widely used for those and it goes well with the color scheme.


UPDATE 15 Feb. 2016

First, thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate your involvement and hope we'll build something together that will work for this community.

A few people had concerns about the logo:

  • "Language" should be fully spelled out
  • The bookmark is a too big

Here is an updated version, I had to change the typography to be able to write "Language learners" without breaking the balance of the logo.

Updated logo

I believe this one works pretty well, better than the previous one. I'd like to keep the bookmark shape as it is: it's easily recognisable and balances the overall shape.


I'm Stéphane, a senior product designer at Stack Exchange. First, I wanted to announce that this site is now starting the process of moving out of beta to become a fully-graduated site!

Congratulations!


Graduation and Your Site Design

Graduation comes with a few perks. I have already begun work on your site's design, which will give you your own unique theme that reflects your topic and culture. This will help brand your site as unique, even while you share common elements with other sites that show you are part of 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 acclaim of a public launch that says, Congratulations, you finally made it!


Design Concept

As it has been brought in this meta post by the community, the visual identity should convey meaning and learning.

To me, when it comes to "meaning" and "learning", all comes down to the dictionary. That's one thing you have to read at some point (or refer to) when you learn a foreign language (and that's what I'm always doing since I'm not a native speaker :) ). There's simply no other way, that's the one thing everyone who's learning a new language has in common.

As a result, I wanted the visual design to:

  • use a dictionary shape for the logo as long as it's not too simple/obvious
  • use a repetitive pattern to reproduce how repetitive books look like when they're stored in a library (a globe and a chalkboard here)
  • use light colors (like a book's paper)

Logo, Identity and home page

Intro

Explanation

Colors

Branding

Stickers

Home page

User interface elements

Favorite, vote arrows, accepted answer and badges

Sprites

Page captcha

Concept: definition/meaning of "bot"

Captcha

Page not found (error 404)

Concept: missing dictionary on a bookshelf

404

Error page (error 500)

Concept: No meaning / nonsense

500


We believe the design and branding will work very well for this community, it’s unique and capture the right mood. We’d love to hear your feedback, and if there are no major design changes, we’ll launch the new site design and graduate the site from Beta soon.

Thank you for for making this such a great community!

  • 20
    The design looks quite nice. I like it, a lot! Thank you! The only thing that bugs me a little (and I know that it could be a design issue: fonts, layout, and everything!) is the text "English Lang. learners" in the logo. I hope it's still possible to consider changing it to "English Language Learners" in full. Apart from that, well done! – Damkerng T. Feb 11 '16 at 17:55
  • 2
    BTW, haven't we graduated already? The template text might need a tweak, specially at the beginning. – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Feb 11 '16 at 19:08
  • 4
    I agree with @Damkerng that the design is nice, and that I hope we can find a way to write out language. Also, I saw the chalkboards as computers, and I think that a design that lets each person put their own interpretation on it is extra special :) I love the dictionaries in the logo. – ColleenV Feb 11 '16 at 19:20
  • 6
    Also, regarding the font - this question about daisy pom was read by some as "daisy porn". It would be nice if we could have a font that might be a little less pretty but have some serifs to help make individual letters more distinct. – ColleenV Feb 11 '16 at 19:39
  • 5
    I don't like this proposed design. The dictionary / E amalgam is decent, but the bookmark looks like the forked tongue of a snake, or a county fair prize ribbon. The globes look like the letters "CO", which have nothing to do with English. I don't know what the diagonal old-fashioned printers are supposed to represent. And red seems like a poor color for the already "voted up" and "voted down" buttons. – Jasper Feb 11 '16 at 22:32
  • 3
    . . . and just for lagniappe, would it be possible to redefine the 'code' display without background shading, which is of no use at all on this site? – StoneyB Feb 12 '16 at 0:01
  • 5
    For yet another remark about the bookmark, the swallowtail-finialed ribbon is something I associate with hymnals and missals, not with dictionaries— especially not the sort of dictionaries I would expect an ESL student to possess. As for the globe and laptop, it is admittedly difficult to find universal symbols for learning, especially ones that can be abstracted in a logo or icon. What would a non-American make of a ruler and an apple, for example? – choster Feb 12 '16 at 0:04
  • 9
    I think version 2.0 is an improvement. Is there any way both "Language" and "Learners" can be capitalized, instead of "Language" getting an upper case L, and "learners" being in all lower case? – J.R. Feb 15 '16 at 20:27
  • 4
    The mixed case between Language and learners jumped out at me almost immediately, especially because neither word is the beginning of the phrase. Both lower case or both upper case would be better (I prefer both capitalized) @J.R. – ColleenV Feb 15 '16 at 23:43
  • 2
    I understand why you wanted to go all caps with ENGLISH, but I really hate that font. It looks sloppy. If nothing else your dictionary "E" should have the same proportion if you want someone to think of it as E as well as a stack of books. I see how you've lined up the lines in the dictionaries with the text, but it doesn't feel balanced to me. Everything feels a little distorted. It could be a very thoughtful commentary on how English is a pieced-together Frankenstein-language, but I'd rather have it pretty ;) That said, I'd rather have ver. 2.0 than not have language spelled out though. – ColleenV Feb 16 '16 at 1:44
  • 6
    If you insist on keeping that "forked-tongue" bookmark, could you at least play around with one or more of these tweaks, and see what you think? (1) Make the line thinner, so that the outline of the bookmark isn't as thick as the outline of the dictionary binders; (2) raise it up a little bit, so that the bookmark looks like it's within the pages of a book instead of resting beneath a stack of books; (3) color the bookmark, as per the suggestion by @ColleenV . Perhaps these can somehow make it look a little less like a puzzling upside-down M (maybe not, but I think it's at least worth trying). – J.R. Feb 17 '16 at 16:04
  • 6
    Just adding to the chorus of "why is there a snake tongue in the logo?" :) – Martha Feb 17 '16 at 18:08
  • 2
    I think you've made a big improvement on the bookmark. I like the color, and the small shadow you've added, and that it doesn't have a dark outline now. – ColleenV Feb 22 '16 at 18:10
  • 5
    Thank you for capitalizing the 'L'! I'm happy now :-) – snailboat Feb 23 '16 at 6:23
  • 3
    Stéphane, thanks for being open to our suggestions. I'd like to think that you and the community have worked together synergistically to design a pretty nifty logo. (One last comment from me: I hope in the final version, the 'H' in 'ENGLISH' will be flush with the 's' in 'Learners'.) – J.R. Feb 23 '16 at 17:48

11 Answers 11

17

enter image description here

  • Nice! ... can you letterspace 'language learners' to get left and right justification with 'English'? – StoneyB Feb 12 '16 at 14:01
  • I just did a quick-and-dirty cut-and-paste in an image editor, but I'm sure Stéphane could. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 12 '16 at 14:03
  • TRomano - I just showed the array of artwork to my wife, and she liked your use-the-dictionaries-as-an-E version the best. I've taken the liberty to add another version with a bookmark in the dictionaries; I've added that to my other answer. – J.R. Feb 20 '16 at 0:36
  • 1
    @J.R. I find the version with mixed case and no bookmark more restful in its simplicity. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 20 '16 at 12:27
  • 1
    @TRomano - More restful in its simplicity – I agree, and I appreciate the artful way you worded that, too! – J.R. Feb 20 '16 at 12:49
  • @J.R. I cannot accomplish it with my image editor, but your version with the bookmark would be very good, I think, as a large ornamental capital, as in a medieval manuscript, significantly larger than the rest of the letters. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 20 '16 at 13:00
10

I really liked J.R.'s suggestion to make the bookmark lines thinner, so I mangled the logo a little to see what that might look like. Disclaimer: I'm an Engineer, not an artist.

Logo suggestion (click for full size)

Regarding the bookmark - I think it might just be a matter of proportion. The book mark is too wide, or the dictionaries are too thin. If the books continue on outside the frame, they're far too thin to be dictionaries. If they don't, the bookmark covers almost the entire page, which is odd looking.

Maybe if it were a different proportion, and it went over the bottom edge of the dictionary it would be better. I added a color from the palette because it looked weird to me as an empty notch in the book. It needs someone to tweak it to add some style so it doesn't look like an Engineer drew it though :)

enter image description here

  • 1
    This bookmark is better than the forked tongue. Unfortunately, it looks like a towel draped over a towel bar. – Jasper Feb 14 '16 at 5:12
  • @Jasper Yes, it is what we teasingly refer to as "coder art" :) I tried putting some page lines in, but it looked even dumber. It's just a "picture is worth a 1000 words" thing to illustrate what I meant about the proportions. – ColleenV Feb 14 '16 at 13:52
  • 1
    I do like this bookmark better than the one proposed by Stéphane, which still looks too much like a 'W' in my opinion. But we might not get our way with this. – J.R. Feb 15 '16 at 20:25
  • The thinner lines seem surprisingly effective. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 18 '16 at 1:01
  • 1
    Thinner line is far better, but the whole logo would be better yet if the "bookmark" was more narrow. I think all four suggestions combined: a thinner line, narrower bookmark, L's inside the E as proposed by J.R and using the logo instead of "E" in English would be a hit. But since I don't have sufficient skills to try and draw it it might be a total miss as well... – Lucky Feb 18 '16 at 1:58
  • @Lucky - Putting the L's inside the E doesn't seem to be a very popular concept, but, as for some of those other changes you've mentioned, I've given it a shot. – J.R. Feb 18 '16 at 9:52
  • Here's an image with a stylized bookmark. I think this works better icons.iconarchive.com/icons/paomedia/small-n-flat/1024/… – Mari-Lou A Feb 19 '16 at 15:08
8

Let me start off with my favorite part: I really like the way the E looks like two books atop each other. Very clever! Very appropriate, too. I fell in love with that E as soon as I saw it.

That said, wasn't so keen on that sigma/W-looking thing dangling down underneath it. (Am I the only one having trouble figuring out what that is? It looks like a reptile tongue to me.)

I also agree with several comments left so far; I, too, hope we can find a way to spell out the word language, rather than using the shortened form lang.

The good news is, fixing the first problem can make room to fix the other!

One other alteration I'd like to propose is changing color of the globes and computers in the home page from that charcoal black to something closer to the blue background, to give it a more "subdued" look. (I think those globes can be a little distracting to the eye, and the overall design could be improved if they were a bit more subtle.)

Here's a proof-of-concept depiction of the design with my proposed changes incorporated:

enter image description here

I've left the globes in their original colors on the right, and in a more subdued color on the left. The final design would have them all the same color, of course.

The one other change I made was changing the font in the word learners. If you look carefully at the original, the space between the l and the e is noticeably smaller than the space between the e and the a, giving it an unpolished look. I'd like to see that fixed, especially since people from all over the world will be looking at it!

enter image description here

Overall, I think it's an excellent first cut, and I appreciate you soliciting feedback from the community. Thanks for your hard work on this!

  • 2
    The lizard tongue is a bookmark! – Nathan Tuggy Feb 11 '16 at 22:59
  • 2
    @Nathan - that was my first thought, too, but, with the way it's positioned, it looks like the dictionaries are sitting atop the bookmark, rather than the bookmark being inside the pages of the dictionary. (I also wondered if the "bookmark" is supposed to be two L's – the second one being a reflection of the first – to work the full ELL abbreviation into the logo.) – J.R. Feb 11 '16 at 23:09
  • 1
    Stylization tends to do odd things like getting rid of overlaps between bookmark and pages to simplify the logo. Seems reasonable enough to me. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 11 '16 at 23:11
  • 4
    I like how this version of the logo give equal weight to "language" and "learners". – Jasper Feb 12 '16 at 0:41
  • 1
    While I was poking around to find images of stacked dictionaries to examine the nature of their bookmarks, I think I found the ELL mascot - the Dame of Dictionaries narrative.ly/stories/the-dame-of-dictionaries – ColleenV Feb 12 '16 at 4:03
  • Deferring to your eye - what if you killed the capital E so the logo E and 'language' lined up vertically? – StoneyB Feb 12 '16 at 13:18
  • @StoneyB - I like it. I just upvoted TRomano's depiction of that. – J.R. Feb 12 '16 at 13:57
  • I would like it to read "lerners". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 12 '16 at 20:47
  • @TRomano And "loewes"? – StoneyB Feb 13 '16 at 18:37
  • youtube.com/watch?v=T74qnT7WFZw – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 13 '16 at 19:16
  • The more I see the two hotdogs logo the more I dislike it. – Mari-Lou A Feb 22 '16 at 11:28
6

This is the version @J.R. appended to my earlier one, in that they both use the book-E as the opening letter. I've moved it here so its merits can be discussed separately.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Just my opinion: If fate decrees that the bookmark stays, I like this version better than the one where the dictionaries are not part of the word ENGLISH (i.e., I like the one shown here better than this other one). – J.R. Feb 20 '16 at 13:04
  • 4
    I agree. I think two E-shapes is too much. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 20 '16 at 13:08
  • 2
    And I like your thinner bookmark. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 20 '16 at 13:10
  • As a button, I can see the letters ELL (although the second L is a reflection of the first). – J.R. Feb 20 '16 at 13:18
  • Nice reflection on the L. Why doesn't the top tome have a bookmark too? They look to be a A-M and N-Z, a matching pair? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 20 '16 at 13:21
6

enter image description here

Here is my revised second draft. The changes I've made include:

  • Making the outline of the bookmark a little thinner than the outline of dictionary binders
  • Making the bookmark just a little bit narrower
  • Raising the bookmark so that it's in (rather than under) the dictionaries
  • Coloring the bookmark (following ColleenV's lead)
  • Capitalizing the word "Learners"

I think this answers most of the concerns repeated by the community, yet retains the bulk of Stéphane's original design concepts.

  • I think it's a substantial improvement and looks quite nice :-) – Lucky Feb 18 '16 at 20:54
  • 1
    Looks like a medal ribbon cliparthut.com/clip-arts/416/gold-medal-ribbon-416600.jpg – Mari-Lou A Feb 19 '16 at 15:05
  • 1
    Ummm...a little tweak? Like drawing very small black lines to represent the pages of the thick book, and also it will give a better impression of the bookmark coming out from between the pages. – Man_From_India Feb 21 '16 at 10:46
4

All righty, so here are my personal thoughts on the updated version of the design :)

  1. I love the E = stacked dictionaries. Super clever, and just subtle enough.
  2. I much prefer the blue chalkboards/globes to the black ones. The blue looks very nice; the black is just to dark/busy in my opinion.
  3. I actually like the W shaped bookmark, but it took me a second to figure out what it was. I don't know how this will actually look in the design, but I'd be interested in seeing what it looked like if the bookmark was either lined more thinly than the books, or solid gray. When I look at it, I see it as a part of the books, not as something "coming out" of it. Maybe this is just me?
  4. Not super crazy about the shade of orange. I'd go with something redder (not christmassy, just less WOW, that sure is bright orange.)
  5. LOVE the design overall! Even if no changes are made, I think we got a super classy design that is going to make our site even more amazing :) You are the best, thank you so much for working on this for us!!

P.S. I adore how the design looks on the notebook and the T-shirt!! If you take a look at the patches/stickers though, I think you'll see what I meant in #3 above. The E is centered, because it's the main focal point. And the bookmark is toward the bottom. But it still looks a bit off-centered to the eye, because the lining of the bookmark is just as thick as the E. It feels like part of the letter itself, not an accent. Hope that helps explain my thought a little better :)

Again, thank you so much for this! And I'll need about a zillion of those notebooks to pass out at book clubs to get people excited about ELL! I think that's one of the things the design is making me the most excited about: we're going to have a tangible way to show people how awesome our site is, and further convince to get them to come here. I definitely intend to start upping my recruiting once the swag gets in!!

3

Here's a coarse shrunken/thickened mash-up with the Letter-Based logos (throwing in "academics" because it's supposed to be book profiles):

letter based icons plus academics

The proposed logo could be drawn more cleanly than that, but I guess my question would be about how well it communicates. To me it doesn't look like books or a bookmark.

It's also a bit "rigid" for a site that's supposed to be more inviting than English Language and Usage. Seeing the two together like that would make me think they were the friendly site. :-P

Going on the obvious side I'd pull inspiration from perhaps the lined paper you learn to write on, stuff like this (image from Wikimedia Commons):

a cursive E

There are a lot of possible variations in terms of color and medium:

  • with a white chalk E on a green chalkboard with yellow lines (or black chalkboard)
  • straight-lined non-cursive E or more cursive-ish
  • with basically any pen/paper/line colors (even the current grays)

But for the sake of conversation, while avoiding any downstream legal complications of deriving from non-free source imagery, here is the clip from the Wikimedia Commons lazily sized down. Added a sepia color scheme to set up some contrast with English SE's E and make it a little "heavier":

sepia toned e

That's hacked clip art, not a "design". :-) Yet I'd say it starts making the juxtaposition tell a story. It would really be a more successful graphic if it can sit in that spot and visually communicate to reduce confusion between the site identities. So that's a train of thought I'd suggest.

But if the current design is pursued...then figuring out the small would probably be a good idea. Since a lot of people are going to see that. So if there are questions about the bookmark's position, or whether it should be orange or not, working in 64x64 or below might be a good place to answer that.

  • 3
    It's a latecomer to the dance, but it has my upvote. I just wonder if the designer is willing to go that far back to the drawing board. – J.R. Feb 21 '16 at 10:59
  • 2
    I wonder also if the two concepts could be combined, i.e., something along these lines. Such a design might allow for your tidy and inviting 64x64 icon, yet retain much of the original idea. – J.R. Feb 21 '16 at 11:26
  • @J.R. Thanks. I actually at first used the original color scheme, then switched to sepia because it looked a little better I thought...but gray is certainly possible too. Design is an iterative process, things get designed and then re-designed, so the work is never done even when it's done. :-) – HostileFork Feb 21 '16 at 15:36
  • 3
    I'm not really a fan of this E - ELL is completely digital and we're not talking about penmanship, so I just don't think a cursive E fits the idea of the site. The stacked dictionaries make a lot more sense to me even though this seems better as an Icon. I think I'd rather see some play on ELL similar to the UL logo. – ColleenV Feb 21 '16 at 23:26
  • @ColleenV For better or worse, icons are abstractions (people ask "what will cartoons with an idea have over their heads when there are no incandescent bulbs?"...or "why would floppy disks mean "save", especially when I've thrown away all the ones I had"). So being a site about penmanship isn't really so much the point--and a book-form allusion isn't digital. Anyway, there's no arguments in matters of taste--but I think this is about more than just "looking" better"--data can be gathered about what a graphic communicates or doesn't. – HostileFork Feb 21 '16 at 23:33
  • 2
    I could explain why floppy disks still mean "save", but it would take more characters than I have :) My point is that the graphic doesn't communicate what I think ELL is about. Our learners are adults, and I associate penmanship and that ruled writing line with children. We're digital and I associate cursive with analog. We're collaborative and penmanship is something you practice solo. I think grade school type graphics make ELL seem like it's only for basic questions. I just wish there was some way to capture our international flavor - there is so much diversity even among native speakers. – ColleenV Feb 21 '16 at 23:43
  • @CollenV Adults coming from a language with a different character set and having to learn the Latin alphabet might well use lined paper. (So one could argue that makes it more international.) Anyway, you can't pack every part of a message into a single logo that fits in a favicon. There's a globe and laptop in the "theme" suggested. I'm just suggesting the gray-E-with-bookmark does not perform in this icon lineup (I don't think it performs more generally myself, but contextualized it's easier to see). So I'd suggest to keep looking with that focus, if it were me. – HostileFork Feb 21 '16 at 23:58
  • The stacked books icon is plain ugly, cold, impersonal and, don't ask me why, but it looks like two hotdogs one on top of another. I say scrap the E logo, keep the colour scheme, and the cute wallpaper theme but change the font, or create a new logo. – Mari-Lou A Feb 22 '16 at 11:27
  • @HostileFork I think the lined paper thing is more because children lack fine motor control. When I was learning Japanese, I didn't really need big lined paper like I did as a child learning Roman letters. – Paul Feb 23 '16 at 1:08
2

Here's my riff on JR's version. The line simulates the sliver of space the bookmark would create between the pages.

enter image description here

and here's J.R.'s reduction of the line length:

enter image description here

1

The letter E is the stumbling block on an otherwise nice layout and design. The two books logo with or without the bookmark doesn't work for me. How about something like this?

enter image description here Looks modern, it reminds me of the letter e on a computer keyboard. Discard the white background, draw just the outline of the key with a little shading to give it some three dimensionality, and it could work. Unfortunately, I do not have an image software programme to try this out at home. But... the proposed E logo doesn't thrill me to bits. This "icon" might just work.

Remember, once the design/layout for ELL has been launched it will be very difficult to modify it in the future.

OR...

Why not play around with the unique letter E that bears a strong resemblance with the letter L?

enter image description here

  • All of these suggestions are better than what we ended up with. – DCShannon Mar 1 '16 at 20:16
1

I am probably tooooo late! But I think the logo with transparent background would look more appealing.

enter image description here

Here(rough work):

enter image description here

  • I was thinking the same thing - I made a quick compilation of site headers and ours really feels like the logo is just a post-it note :( – ColleenV Feb 26 '16 at 14:32
  • 1
    I think this washes out a bit too much; the chosen colors don't give enough of a contrast between the blue chalkboards/globes and the dark gray lettering, so the pale gray was put in to make it stand out more. Perhaps there would be some clever way to avoid those particular side-effects, but I don't know of one myself. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 26 '16 at 21:13
  • 1
    @NathanT - Perhaps one way to avoid it would be to make the "Post-It note" smaller and the same color as the blue background (i.e., something like this). – J.R. Feb 28 '16 at 10:11
0

Another latecomer to the dance (as J.R. has put it in comments), but perhaps there is still time to update the tabs: "questions" "tags" "users" "badges" "unanswered" and "ask question" and the upvote/downvote arrows. I've noticed that some SE sites have pretty cool stuff in this area:

  • Travel SE has a symbol of luggage tags for "tags"; two people, one with a hat for "users" etc. and upvote/downvote arrows are like direction signs

  • Academia SE has a fountain pen tip for upvote/downvote

  • Chemistry SE has a ball-and-stick molecule model for upvote/downvote

  • Electrical engineering SE - tabs are wired together to resemble a part of the electrical circuit, and upvote/downvote arrows also have little wires coming out of them

  • Arqade SE has the coolest thing of all - "ask question" is in the form of a spaceship and when you hover over it, jets actually flesh out of the ship

There are other examples, but you get the idea.

My question is: could we have something like this? I have to admit that I don't have the necessary skills to design it, nor do I have any enlighting ideas at the moment - except maybe, that the upvote/downvote arrows might somehow represent a book (dictionary) opened at a, say, 30 degrees angle. This is just a thought to be worked on...

  • 1
    Unless a particular idea really stands out, I don't think it's worth straining ourselves to be too clever. Sometimes plain UI that simply fits the colors, lines, and so forth is good enough. – Nathan Tuggy Feb 23 '16 at 21:26
  • @NathanTuggy You probably have a point - I was just completely dazzled by that spaceship on Arqade... Yet if something springs to someone's mind in a day or two, perhaps it won't be to late and wouldn't burden Stéphane too much to include it in the design. If there are no ideas - no harm done :-). – Lucky Feb 23 '16 at 21:36
  • 1
    I think Stéphane started to show some of this kind of creativity with his missing page picture. I kind of like the way Chemistry has that row of beakers and test tubes along the banner of its homepage; I wonder if we could do something similar, using Stéphane's bookshelf (dictionary included of course). I'm thinking something along these lines. – J.R. Feb 23 '16 at 23:14
  • 2
    I really like the idea of the bookshelf banner that @J.R. suggested. I think it would add some of the pizzazz Lucky is talking about. I don't know about changing the up/down vote arrows. I like the simplicity of Stéphane's design for those bits. – ColleenV Feb 24 '16 at 0:01

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