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I'm Jin, I work on the designs for the Stack Exchange sites as they graduate from the beta phase. Each site will have its own unique theme that will reflect its topic and culture. However, all sites will share common elements so they feel like they're part of the Stack Exchange family.

For our Travel site design, I have commissioned a very talented designer Adelle Charles for the job. We went over the overall design direction and visual identity for this community. The design goal is to strike a balance between the use of familiar travel related visual cues, and a warm and welcoming aesthetic. We also wanted to blend modern elements with a vintage feel.

Logo

Travel Logo

The logo is inspired by the location tick that's commonly used in travel and mapping. It conveys the idea of destination. The N/E/S/W label gives it a compass look.

Site Design

Please see the mockups below. While they don't contain all the site elements, they should give you a good overall look and feel of the new design.

please click on the images below to see the full res versions.

Travel homepage

Travel question page

I believe the logo works well elsewhere for promoting the site!

Travel Tshirt

We'd love to hear your feedback. If there are no major design changes, we'll launch the new design and graduate the site from Beta soon. An early congrats from me!

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    It's not T-shirts we need but towels! (= – hippietrail Aug 3 '12 at 13:09
  • Looking good, I like it! – Jonik Aug 25 '12 at 8:38
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    We need the logo displayed on bag pack or jacket instead... – Rudy Gunawan Sep 1 '12 at 5:14
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For some reason I'm really happy to see the world map not centred on USA even though Stack Exchange is US-based. Very nice.

But here's an idea. Wouldn't it be a really nice little subtle trick to have several versions of the background map centred in different parts of the world?

It could pick a random one each load, each day or week if it would be a cache problem, or it could use the user's IP or browser geolocation to centre it.

In fact it could probably be done just with CSS / JavaScript magic if the map could be a pure map image separate from anything that looks like part of the actual interface. It would probably be a very fun little programming challenge too.

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I like the design, a lot! :)

Good:

  • I like that it focuses on a global map and air travel rather than trying to have loads of confused metaphors for many types of transport.
  • I like the map push-pin icons. They are so ubiquitous in online maps that it gels in well.
  • I like the airmail envelope border. It's one thing I associate strongly with receiving mail from friends I've made abroad.
  • I like the generic visa-stamp / passport-control peeking out at the top, I think it's a really nice touch.

Some things I'm not sure clear about:

  • I know Jin clarified that the compass is pointing towards south-east, as a play on Travel.SE. This is, however, not clear. Like, if it was a real compass I'd be confused what direction it's pointing towards. One solution could be adding a red tip to the pointing tip of the compass as is standard on compasses - however, as a visual element the compass is so small that I don't know how prominent the red tip will be, whether such a thin red tip will 'bleed' when printed on paper or clothes (if it ever is). Perhaps "It's pointing towards SE!" could be a subtle / in-joke and we leave the logo as it is now. I'd leave that decision to Jin / Adelle as they have more experience in this.
  • One thing that really stuck out as odd for me is that the green box around 'answered' questions on the homepage list have square borders, while everything else in the interface - the 'ask question' box, tags, the font - has rounded borders or has no sharp edges. Therefore, the green square box really stood out for me as odd. Not sure whether they'd be better off rounded.
  • For questions tagged with a particular country name, can we have a flag icon next to the name? Um, maybe not. I'll stop rambling now. It's one of those ideas that sounds nice but may not actually work in an interface.

Weeeeeeeee I'm so excited about this! Awesomesauce work from Adelle and Jin. :)

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    I think the flag in the the country tag would look reeeally sexy! Love it! (also agree with all other points yo mentioned, but the flags are the most important!) – RoflcoptrException Aug 3 '12 at 20:30
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I also like the design! It's simple and sexy and that's great. However, I have some comments:

  1. Imho, the color of the username on your mockup does not really fit to the rest of the design. But maybe it is just me or my monitor ;)

  2. Similarly, the color of the user box (Mark Mayo) on your second user box seems a little bit weird to me.

Have you thought about also adapting the up and down vote arrows?

  • I'll definitely tweak some colors once I start converting the design to CSS. what do you mean by "adapting the up and down vote arrows?" – Jin Aug 2 '12 at 21:20
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    On other sites I have seen up and down vote arrows that are not the default arrows, but adapted arrows so that they also fit into the design. In our case, this could for example be a signpost. – RoflcoptrException Aug 2 '12 at 21:50
  • Ah I see. The voting arrow and favorite stars are to look like buttons found in modern apps. I used sign look on the bicycles.stackexchange.com see if that's what you mean. – Jin Aug 2 '12 at 21:56
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    Oh sure, blame my userbox :) – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Aug 3 '12 at 6:21
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Looks great! I love how clean and crisp it looks, and the subtle travel-related elements.

Is it just me, or the compass-y thing also an allusion for a map pin in e.g. Google Maps? I guess the pins are more slender and curved in the bottom, but they could make great badge symbols.

Also, air travel seems to be over-represented in the site visuals (air mail strip, air routes), while a lot of people on the site are also backpackers and overland travellers. Would it be possible to incorporate other design elements? Perhaps the others would have more ideas which exactly.

Also, a towel. I mean, seriously.

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    Adelle and I talk about what visual elements to use to convey "Travel." We didn't want to over use visuals to cover everything because then the design would be too cluttered and overwhelm the content. So no "a boat" and a "train" and a "bicycles" etc. We settled on air travel because it's the most recognized one. Also it fits the world map theme better. We felt it was important for the design to be clear that this site talks about travel everywhere, not region specific. – Jin Aug 2 '12 at 19:10
  • +1 for the badge... – Rudy Gunawan Sep 1 '12 at 5:17
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Looking GREAT!!!
One small suggestion - change the arrow of compass to point at right upper corner. Its just a psyphological thing - progress is up and time goes to the right.

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    I think they did it that way because it is pointing now to SE ;) – RoflcoptrException Aug 3 '12 at 8:29
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    Maybe we'll scare away fewer non-geeks if we are called travel.southeast.com than travel.stackexchange.com (-; So far I can never get past the "What is exchanging stacks?" question when recommending the site to travellers who are not also nerds ... – hippietrail Aug 3 '12 at 13:08
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    Agree with VMAtm. From Fengshui perspective, the way it is pointing is a big NO-NO. And in my opinion, we should not really focus on the South East. Should focus more on "travel" instead. But the color and the design are great. Love it. – Rudy Gunawan Sep 1 '12 at 5:10
  • exchanging "stacks of information"?? :) – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Sep 10 '12 at 19:06
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Finally I have a chance to actually analyse and comment.

I like it! Love the colours, the feel. My changes and suggestions follow:

  • can we get our own domain instead of having just travel.stackexchange.com?
  • the compass could be coloured red to point to SE (to make it clearer) but not necessary, could be a subtle thing.
  • I think we should have flags for the country tags, or perhaps airport tags
  • It would be nice for each user to be able to specify their country and have their flag next to their name?
  • can we get our own domain??
  • On each user's profile, we could let them list countries they've visited and have that turn into flags, would encourage looking at people's profiles.
  • agree with @Ankur, the square answer boxes look weird.
  • I was trying to come up with changing things like users to 'towel-carriers' or similar, but really, why make the lingo tricky or too clever, keeping it simple works. I'd be a fan of simplifying anything to make it less geeky and more traveller friendly.
  • can we please get our own domain? I'll paraphrase what someone put in the chat - it's so much easier to convince people to try a site that doesn't sound like code - as soon as there's multiple dots in a domain eyes start to glaze over...
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I like the overall color and the maps. But I have 2 little concerns on :

  • the top bar. It's too "light" and clash with the bright blue body.
  • the username is also too blurry.

In my opinion we should use darker color on both of them.

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