One of The 7 Essential Questions of Every Beta.

This one is pretty straightforward. Solicit contributions, throw out ideas, post preliminary (or finished) designs, and be supportive and respectful of other people’s ideas and creativity.

We have designers on staff to come up with site designs but, if an idea stemming from the community stands out as exceptional, we are happy to use it.

One suggestion per answer please, for voting purposes.

Logo guidance, from Jin (resident UI designer for at least some of the Stack Exchange sites):

Please note: I prefer gray-scaled logo submissions, that way we can judge the IDEA of the logo more objectively. We can always add colors to the logo later. Also, the logo itself(sans the site title text) should be able to fit in a square dimension nicely. This way we can use it for favicons, mobile touch icons etc.


UPDATE: Further discussion over on this Question by @Jin - go and have a look, we still need to decide on images for the 404, Captcha and Error pages

  • is security the kind of site that can/should have a dark background? Dark backgrounds historically have gone very badly for us, but gaming sort of has a dark background.. – Jeff Atwood Jun 30 '11 at 10:15
  • @Jeff I'm sure some of our hacker-y brethren would be comfortable in black backs, just to feel all l33t-ish, but many of us prefer the light. (Cue the Batman/Superman quotes...) – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:40
  • 2
    @jeff Nah, black backgrounds make glare worse among other issues. – nealmcb Jun 30 '11 at 20:15

11 Answers 11

I'm not a designer, so I've done my best to put this idea into practice :

using a Vigenère Cipher to create a logo. Here is an example with for meta site.

Vigenère Meta ITSec

Vigenère support:

YIMAAMSGMYOKAYZKX
METAITSECURITYMET
METASTACKEXCHANGE

AMSGMYOKAYVZW
ITSECURITYITS
STACKEXCHANGE

In the logo, I try to keep the site name the most visible almost other part of the cipher. Reinforce the ITSECURITY part, in contrast to META. Maybe the same should be done with IT on main site.

It is intended to express the fact that within (Meta-)StackExchange, (META)ITSECURITY is the key to understand security.

What I like:

  • It's using a cryptographic paradigm (the cipher)
  • It combines site name to stackexhange name

What I do no like in my work:

  • Integration feels odd. But I guess that with some transparency tuning or so it could go well.
  • The logo feel big compared to other SE sites.
  • Well... I can add it does note really fit in a square. Did not saw that requirement. But that's a start. – M'vy Jun 30 '11 at 10:04
  • I like the idea of a cipher-y look'n'feel, though I agree the implementation could do with some professional help ;) – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:42
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    Maybe something along the lines of the cover of this book: schneier.com/images/cover-practical-163h.jpg – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:54

Ok, I thought of a square logo after all. It describes one of the best network-security method ever :

Edit: added variants.

Security.SE Variant #1

Coloured variants for meta/main possible XD

  • Exchange the scissors for hedge clippers or bolt cutters and I'm in lust with it. – Scott Pack Jun 30 '11 at 16:37
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    Nice, but I'd actually show the break in the cable - and put something in the disconnected box, like a skull :) Or anything ominous. – John C Jun 30 '11 at 21:51
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    @Scott @John : variant added! – M'vy Jul 1 '11 at 13:45

There's always the overused lock motif. Like a padlock or a key hole. A key hole rendered nicely might be OK - it's simple enough to as both an icon and on the header of the page.

Rory Alsop Update: How about these 3 - a keyhole, with two keys. (the orange is for @ScottPack :-)

Basic Logo - works okay when resized

Basic Logo - works when resized small, although for favicon we might want to lose the word.

Vote up arrow: Vote up arrow

Vote down arrow: Vote down arrow

  • 5
    This is, admittedly, what I thought of first. Clichéd, but it does make sense. – alexmuller Jun 30 '11 at 17:57
  • Liking this idea a lot - it also gives further options beyond the basic logo, to allow an entire theme to be consistent, as we'll need the up and down arrows etc – Rory Alsop Jul 5 '11 at 13:48
  • (Sheesh, 2 points from being able to downvote :) I really think there shouldn't need to be a word in the logo, just an icon - and the basic icon, is a little too basic... I do like the keys for up/down votes, though. – John C Jul 6 '11 at 18:29

My suggestion is that it should look like the WOPR from War Games. This is why I'm a security person and not a graphic designer :-D

  • oooo I LOVE this!! I take my other upvotes back! Joshua FTW! – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:43
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    And on that theme, maybe we could try raiding themes from other classic "security" movies... e.g. hackers, swordfish, etc... – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:52
  • Heh. Swordfish... – Rory Alsop Jul 4 '11 at 12:30
  • You thinking of an LED like this but saying "Security" ?rockstartrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/… – AccidentallyObtuse Jul 4 '11 at 14:02
  • @makerofthings yes, and lots of terminal font and blinkenlichter. – user185 Jul 5 '11 at 8:24

I'm no graphic designer, but I think the essence of security and this site involves the eternal evolution of the cat-and-mouse game. Protecting assets from threats, and seeing what the threat learns and countering that. So something that reflects the mindset of constantly evolving to match an adversary would be cool.

E.g. a graphical representation of a flanking maneuver, or "and now for something completely different", and a response to that.

Or cats and mice - perhaps an offshoot of a comic like wily coyote or something, uh, more recent....

Aren't castles the traditional metaphor for security?

Firewalls, bastion hosts, ward networks, keeps, etc?

Crenellations are pretty as well.

Also, it could act as a useful reminder that physical security matters too.

... I knew I'd seen one somewhere!

enter image description here

I suggest a mathematical/generative art -based header, perhaps using Processing or paper.js.

Visually, it's hard to pin 'IT Security' down into one concise image, but something that alludes to the field's complexity while suggesting common themes of networking/connectivity might suit. Two examples of generative art that show what I mean:

  1. IBM's wonderful Watson logo by Joshua Davis - video:

    IBM Watson

  2. The gorgeous Tron Legacy artwork by Joshua T. Nimoy:

Tron legacy

  • I think these are pretty, but really have no identity component relevant to our site... – AviD Jul 4 '11 at 9:06
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    @AviD - it's obvious - they represent security through obscurity. :) – John C Jul 5 '11 at 13:38

I have always liked TomatoUSB's layout; it's simple, clean and uses red in a way that is restrained.

Other router firmwares have similar "just the business" type looks that I associate with security (roughly! work with me here! poetic license!)

Any security tools that have UIs we can be "inspired" from? This is brainstorming...

  • How bout the Checkpoint FW UI I mentioned? I just added link to pic... I think that is more ubiquitous, and more differentiated than boring ol' minimalized embedded network gear ;) – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:49

What do you think of a black-on-white stick-figure theme, ala XKCD? ;)

Though I'm bothered by this, but I think the best idea would be to go with a firewall-themed design, maybe something like the SmartDashboard (rules view) on a Checkpoint Firewall-1 (I'm pointing them out simply because its a simple, clear and aesthetic layout...)

CheckPoint SmartDashboard

  • Nice to see that the Checkpoint interface is just as ugly as Juniper's NSM :| – Scott Pack Jun 30 '11 at 19:53
  • oh yes, not exactly a pretty site sight - but functional, ubiquitous... and recognizable. – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 19:55
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    I was going to post a similar screenshot, but I thought naw, that's too hideously ugly, he can't possibly be referring to that :( – Jeff Atwood Jun 30 '11 at 22:51
  • @Jeff hehe, well, as I said I'm bothered by this idea (for several reasons), but it's unanimously ugly, thats be the ways them firewalls are looking (and, thats one of the better ones...). On the other hand, its colorful, functional, and commonly recognizable. FTR, I'd probably vote this down myself - but it may be the best one for it... – AviD Jun 30 '11 at 23:03
  • Ouch. Microsoft's ISA server is actually slightly less UGLY than that. Cisco ASDM is about comparable in its ugliness. – Richard Gadsden Jul 7 '11 at 11:41

Okay, ignore my other answers....

As @nealmcb said, we should be trying to reflect our mindset, threats, assets, etc...

One of the most important tools for engineering a security design, is Threat Modeling - which, most effectively, leverages a form of DFD using trust boundaries, and so forth.

So I suggest something along those lines...
As a (rough, ugly) example:

DFD Basic context

Obviously that's not the entire design, but it could be a basis for developing a theme...

  • 2
    We can use the double green lines to highlight Question Users etc... Green circle for question, back no answer, green answer, green and filled accepted answer. – M'vy Jul 1 '11 at 7:08

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