I'm Kurtis, a product designer at Stack Exchange. First off, congratulations on your recent site graduation!
Graduation and Your Site Design
Graduation comes with a few perks. We have already begun work on your site's design based on the community's ideas so that the design gives you a 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.
We were inspired by all of the different ideas posted in the meta discussion and the community's Medium blog. Thanks to everyone who participated. As we began to design here are just a few highlighted ideas we kept in mind...
"By our nature we get questions on a wide range of topics and covering a wide range of "realisms", from planets in binary star systems with actual science all the way through magical worlds that follow no known laws of nature."
Worldbuilding mood board
For the color scheme we chose a palette with an otherworldly feel. We wanted colors that might exist in nature but not on earth.
A visual for the logo that recurred during brainstorming was an unfinished world being crafted by a tool or hand. We started the logo design with this idea but the addition of a tool or hand added complexity at a smaller size. We then began to think about the role of the human brain and our unique ability to shape fictitious worlds.
Drawing inspiration from a brain scan that showed neural activity during the act of imagining, we combined that with a primitive sphere. The shape represents the beginning of an idea not fully formed in its complexity, while the bodies of water abstractly represent the imagination.
Early on we took inspiration from the imagery in DaaaahWhoosh's sketch. We starting the design with a poster that we would later reassemble into a site design because it gave us a little more creative freedom to explore a theme.
Not all elements of the original sketch made it into the poster, but we had the idea that if the design for the main site gets approved by the community, we could treat the meta theme as an alternate dimension to the one displayed below — a black and white version that includes some of the more primitive elements that were discussed in the brainstorming post. For instance, the robot could be a dragon-esque creature and the city could be medieval. (Yes, it would include a balloon whale.)
Above are a few potential examples of Worldbuilding swag.
Overall Site Design
For the site design, we downplayed many of the visual elements in the poster and kept much of the artwork in the header and footer.
Click images to view larger versions.
We believe the design captures the mood we were going for and would love to hear your feedback. If there are no major design changes, we're hoping to launch the site soon!
Thank you for for making this such a great community!