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Congratulations Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair 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 over 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 - 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 - including you!

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 {Catija} 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 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 mechanics, 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 incorporate 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 complete
Design V1 complete
V1 Feedback complete
Design adjustments (if needed) complete
Developer cleanup and shipping of final design complete

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. So far, I was able to find some older discussions about logos and site designs here on Meta including this one from 2017. Feel free to reference them if there are ideas you like already - or give us new ones! If there are other discussions I missed, feel free to link to them in a comment, too. 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, such as specific parts of engines or favorite tools.
  • 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?

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

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    Is this real? Am seeing things? Wow ... only took 5.5 years ... J/K, Catija ... thanks for letting us know! May 13 at 19:41
  • I think we can continue to use the Meta thread you linked in your post. It's a good starting place, IMHO. May 13 at 20:07
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    I'd rather start fresh here - this is where we'll be tracking things and it'll be good to have it all in one place but if you want to repost some of that content here, that's fine with me. :)
    – Catija StaffMod
    May 13 at 20:12
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    It doesn't matter to me where it's located, I was just suggesting the information there is a good starting place. May 13 at 20:22
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    Sounds great! I'll be sure to include it in the report and I know the designer's already been looking it over. :D
    – Catija StaffMod
    May 13 at 20:23

3 Answers 3

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Some thoughts to get started...

Symbols and images

Possible badges:

  • Gears

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • Spanners/Wrenches

enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

  • Pistons & con-rods

enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

  • 'Check Engine Light' outline

enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

  • Engine

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Possible up/down vote arrows:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Possible Logo:

  • Piston

enter image description here

NOTE: This is a really ugly piston. Someone with better photochop or Illustrator abilities could SURELY do a much better job than I've done here.

Colours

  • Grey/black/silver - seem to be standard car colours these days, and symbolise metallic parts
  • Red - traditional racing colour!
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    I like the gears, but if they've been done on other sites already, it seems passe. I like original! May 19 at 23:51
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For the 404 page, I'd have to suggest @paulster2 's original 404 post at

https://mechanics.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1747/12814 Specifically

enter image description here

Tineye says it was first seen August 2013 on http://shallow.soup.io so probably not Public Domain. May need to a re-make of a similar scene.

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    I could easily recreate this with my own image and photochopping. May 19 at 23:54
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I was thinking for the top banner bar and footer background images, having something like this image from shutterstock.com might be good:

enter image description here

I was thinking something like this 3d effect versus having just a flat, 2d design would be more eye catching/appealing. Even if something like this was used to the right side of the banner and faded to black going left.


Banner and footer could also be something using a fender hash as seen in this image:

enter image description here

Consider a black background with the red hashes.

Here's another thought ...

enter image description here

Something like this on the left side to depict the different aspect of automotive maintenance. As far as setup, thinking of how Worldbuilding has their background setup. (NOTE: TBH, Worldbuilding has one of the coolest designs of any on SE/SO. It not only fits their site, it is awesome to boot. I've always been envious of their design.)

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    One thought is how much the imagery implies racing, verses wrenching. I do like the contrasting paint, like a modern pinstripe.
    – Criggie
    May 20 at 3:00
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    @Criggie - Agreed. Racing stuff means cars, though, which is the main intent. It can also be eye catching if done right. These are just ideas and I'm personally not set on them. I just don't want design people to go way off the handle and produce something which is out in the weeds. Please, if you have some ideas, I'm open to suggestions. May 20 at 14:43

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