I will compare several samples of graphical aspects of some Stack Exchange sites, to let you know what I mean first.

Cover Design

In Ask Ubuntu, it's:


It's different again in Arqade:


And in [Area 51][51] and English Language & Usage it's also different:

elu 51area

So, how and whom decides what graphics shall be used for a new website? Does the OP who proposed the idea decide? Do mods decide? Is there a vote? This also includes the colours of text and formatting icons and such.


  • Excellent question. It was surprisingly hard to find. Would you be willing to consider a more specific title, maybe something like... "What's the user interface design process for new SE sites and how much visual and functional flexibility is allowed?" Aug 15, 2017 at 16:24
  • Search terms: Maybe it will help others if I list a few I tried (so they'll be picked up by google or area51 search): user experience, user interface, look and feel, functionality, stackexchange site design, stackexchange site html and css. Aug 15, 2017 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


Check out https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/107246/189958

Pertinent answer quoted below...

Short answer: you can ask for anything you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with functionality.

Each graduating site gets its own unique design theme created by Stack Exchange's professional in-house design team (currently Jin), working with other designers as needed.

So far, every site's theme has included

  • a custom logo and favicon custom decorative graphics (or intentional lack thereof)
  • a consistent color scheme

Most sites have also received

  • unique fonts consistent with the site theme
  • decorative boxes and borders consistent with the site theme
  • themed badge shapes/sizes/colors (color referring to background color, not bronze/silver/gold)
  • themed tag shapes/sizes/colors
  • unique upvote/downvote/favorite button images

Some sites have other changes that have to do with their topics. Photography's top bar is organized differently to make room for a "featured photo." Unix and Linux has slashes prepended to the text of its header buttons to give the feel that those link to "subdirectories" of the site. And Apple's markup looks like an Apple keyboard's key.


To generalize, what's the user interface design process for new Stack Exchange sites and how much visual and functional flexibility is allowed?

The unique designs of Stack Exchange sites are created by SE employees only. The design workflow does not allow moderators to tweak graphics or make wholesale changes, as they might be able to do with say, a WordPress site.

The Stack Exchange employees who do this have the title of Product Designer, and occasionally may be noticed discussing their proposals using the standard Q&A format. While the Product Designers create the design and have final say, they may also work collaboratively with the community on the concept, design language, and fine tuning of the final product.

Some design elements can be always be changed, some can be requested, and some explicitly cannot be changed. As @JoshP helpfully noted, at least one meta post provides some of the details, which are spread across few different answers (don't stop reading after the first answer).

Sites with special requirements may actually request new capabilities not possible with other sites. This is a tough request to grant and it doesn't happen often, because it can involve a significant amount of work including custom coding. However the Stack Exchange team does listen, and weighs the specific context as well as whether such functionality might benefit other sites now or in the future.

The best explicit references I've found are the link mentioned above, and a targeted google search that shows examples of many different design proposals/discussions.

Design parameters for new SE sites:

Examples of design proposals and the resulting community negotiation: https://google.com/search?q=stackexchange+product+designer+graduated+site+design+concept+-ux.stackexchange.com

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