UPDATE: MAY 19, 2016

Thank you to everyone who took the time to review and provide feedback. Based on the comments and posts below, here are the changes that are being made to the design:


Based on Gilles' and Zaile's feedback…

  • I dropped the square brackets, the glyph + wordmark logo construction and the red-orange color scheme.
  • Now I've encapsulated the community name within parentheses. The favicon will be the first letter, which you can see in the bottom corner in the image below. Also I've updated the colors to use purple and blue. The site's color theme will be updated as well.

Updated Emacs Logo


In Emacs Lisp, 'tag-name is the usual way to write a “keyword”, i.e. a name that is to be used as itself with a particular meaning

Great suggestion. I can make this update.


Would it work to use *Questions*, *Tags*, etc. as page titles?

Unfortunately we do not customize page titles.

If there is no other feedback, I'll start setting up the new site theme. This should happen sometime in the next two weeks. Normally it's within a week, but I can't guarantee that at this point. Thank you again for the feedback throughout this process. Thank you for being such a great community!

Original Post: MAY 12, 2016

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Joshua and I'm a product designer at Stack Overflow. Hello! And congratulations, your community is (finally) moving out of beta!

Graduation and Your Site Design

Graduation comes with a few perks. One of those perks is community-specific design, reflecting the theme, topic, and culture of the community. Many elements will be altered to help make your site unique, while still retaining common elements with Stack Exchange communities. These common elements help create a consistent experience across the Stack Exchange Network.

Design & Logo Concept

Last week I posted a discussion thread to solicit ideas and inspiration from the community. First off, thank you for all your feedback! It was helpful as I started my design exploration. Here were a couple statements that helped…

A good fit would be emacs itself: economy, simplicity, devoid of clutter, ornamentation, and affectations.

Emacs users tend to be more interested in [key-bindings] than in [themes].

Emacs users are likely to value the freedom to modify their programs as they wish.

-1 for Vim logo included in the answer

My background on Emacs was minimal, so the answers and comments did help. Exploring the top questions and tags also helped, as well as reading various website articles and tutorials. Based on your feedback and what I learned on my own, a visually heavy theme wouldn't work.


Even though the theme might not be visually heavy, it still needed to be distinctive. During my research I came across this box-and-pointer diagram:

Box-and-pointer diagram

Logo Concept

After viewing this diagram, I started exploring how I could capture the text used within Emacs. Was there something distinctive about the way things are executed? Borrowing the idea of LISP's symbolic expressions, I wrapped the letter "E" in parentheses.

Logo Idea

Final Logo

enter image description here



Site Design

The site design utilizes a pattern based on the box-and-pointer diagram shared above. Otherwise I kept the colors simple and used a monospaced font for numbers and headline elements.



I believe this design captures the unique theme and topic of your community. That said, I'd love to hear your feedback.

Thank you for for making this such a great community!

  • 5
    Square brackets do seem quite out of place for Lisp. Parentheses would be so much better.
    – xji
    May 13, 2016 at 8:23
  • 4
    Also I think that the purple color theme based on the official homepage would go quite well than the red/orange theme above. Can you please try a purple/indigo theme? May 13, 2016 at 19:12
  • 1
    +1 on well-planned use of Monospace fonts. I like it! May 13, 2016 at 19:21
  • 1
    I like the update to (emacs). Thanks for taking suggestions!
    – Dan Mod
    May 20, 2016 at 21:55

2 Answers 2


While I like the concept behind [E], it's strongly associated to parentheses, it doesn't work with square brackets. I realize that the square brackets work better visually, but they don't convey “list”. (They convey “array”, but arrays are rarely used and not emblematic of Lisp.)

Perhaps the brackets should just be there for visual effect, and the site name could be typeset as (EMACS) or (Emacs)? (Or (emacs) for greater authenticity, as Emacs Lisp shuns uppercase letters, but I'm not sure if it would look ok as a title.)

The design of tags could be an alternative way to introduce a Lisp concept (the same way e.g. TeX.SE uses {tag-name} to evoke LaTeX environments, and Unix & Linux uses /tag-name to evoke file paths). Not with parentheses, but with a single quote (apostrophe) before the tag name. In Emacs Lisp, 'tag-name is the usual way to write a “keyword”, i.e. a name that is to be used as itself with a particular meaning, as opposed to a reference to a value (which would be tag-name without quotes) or an instruction to execute something (which would be (tag-name)).

Another avenue for a nod at Emacs which would work for non-programmers would be to allude to the name of non-file buffers. When Emacs is showing something that isn't a file, it shows a pseudo-file-name surrounded by asterisks, e.g. *Help* when it's showing Emacs's self-documentation, *Packages* in the package manager, *Customize Group: Backup* in the configuration screen for backups, *Tetris* when playing Tetris, etc. Would it work to use *Questions*, *Tags*, etc. as page titles?

(Note that I'm not particularly pushing for any of these to be done, they're just suggestions if you want to fit in an allusion to Emacs.)

  • 2
    As an aside, if going with the parentheses instead of the square brackets, one could choose a rounded font for the "E" (eg, such that it looks a little like a lower-case epsilon).
    – Dan Mod
    May 13, 2016 at 9:40
  • 1
    +++++1 for (emacs) May 13, 2016 at 19:12
  • 3
    Love the 'tag-name idea, and using *Questions*, *Tags* etc. as page titles (with a monospaced font) gets +1 from me as well.
    – itsjeyd
    May 14, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    Agree with the ( ) versus [ ] stuff. Suggestions on tags and *stuff* are nice too.
    – JeanPierre
    May 16, 2016 at 7:54

This may sound or come across as odd, but when I think of emacs, the colors I immediately 'see' mentally are either blue or purple, which has obvious connects to GNU and the emacs logo itself.

I don't know if choosing orange was a strategic choice besides design (for copyright purposes maybe?), but if not, I think a few designs with more blue-ish color schemes would be worth exploring.

That said, I do like that the logo design and whatnot is distinctive from the actual gnu/emacs logo. I think you are already on the right path in terms of finding a unique and functional design that honors the emacs' tradition. Going along with Gilles' recommendations only improves it.

  • I agree with what's said about the colors. Look at emacs splash screen: no bright colors.
    – JeanPierre
    May 16, 2016 at 7:51
  • 3
    Do the colors have to be a gradient? We need more solid and simple colors with subtle touches here and there. Gradients were great in the last Century.
    – Emacs User
    May 23, 2016 at 23:40

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