I'm bumping up this topic so that it doesn't fall by the wayside. There have been a couple questions already about this (here and on Area 51). I'm starting a new thread with the clear goal of formulating a clear plan to get this site in gear and to give us a clean slate in which to work.

I'll post an answer that is my idea to move forward for folks to vote on and for others to propose their own. That will make this a poll-type question, but I think it's time we put all of the ideas in one place and get a consensus on what to do next.

I think we are pretty far into the beta period and the health of the site has some serious issues, so speed is important. But please take the time to carefully read, propose, and vote.

This site has a ton of potential and I think we all really want to see it succeed. Let's get this site out of beta if only so that we can see what design @Jin and his gang can come up with for a site about design, a challenge if there ever was one.

4 Answers 4


My favorite plan out of the bunch is the one suggested by @Patrick McElhaney from UI.SE:

If Graphic Design wants to expand its definition to cover UI, typography, comics, or any other subject, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't. Go ahead and make the best site you can; don't let other proposals stand in your way.

We can discuss what's appropriate for "Design" and what's not all day, but those ideas are stuck in committee, and no one has been able to really agree upon what is appropriate or not (UI, fashion design), even with Joel Spolsky's guideline of using a university department as a guideline simply because universities handle design differently from each other.

I suggest re-do/re-open/re-name "Graphic Design" to simply "Design". (Guidance from the SE Valued Employees would be helpful here).

The overall theme I think we should embrace would be to focus on the motif—style, decoration, theme, aesthetic—of a project regardless of medium in the following manner (the lists are examples and not all-inclusive):

Focus on 2D design

  • Graphic arts - logo design, fonts & typography, visual communication, etc.
  • Web design - CSS-centric/HTML-inclusive
  • UI/UX Design
  • Typography and typesetting
  • Layout and printing
  • Branding and marketing
  • photographic design
  • illustration
  • Comics
  • Digital media - (i.e., Flash, Video)
  • Technical questions (How-To) related to design applications, or at least those applications that have the broadest audience, like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Allow 3D design (and leave it to a question of what will gain traction)

  • fashion design
  • industrial design
  • Spacial (Interior/Exterior) Design
  • Sculpture

Disallow the following (knowing that some of this might be self-contradictory)

  • Technical questions related to 3D software
  • Technical suestions related to Video editing software
  • Web site architecture and development (i.e., pure HTML/no CSS, questions related to the back end)
  • Landscaping and Architecture (though this may contradict allowing interior and exterior design)

That being said, oftentimes we can't apply a design or aesthetic to a project without knowing the technical steps to get there, so there is some wiggle room here.

  • 3
    I like the idea of broading the scope to 'design' so long as we have a good list of valid topics that we consider to be 'design' and people encountering the community would not be confused by this. Feb 10, 2011 at 21:49
  • I've updated my answer to include a detailed list. Feb 11, 2011 at 14:23
  • 1
    I like the updated list. I'm iffy about fashion design. I just don't see fashion design related questions belong on this site. but we'll wait and see.
    – Jin
    Feb 11, 2011 at 18:37
  • 1
    Yea, fashion may not take off but i've noted how many 'design' type magazines include industrial, fashion and graphic examples and articles. It seems to me, we learn alot from each other just watching for trends and creative solutions- i think Philip proposes a good approach, to allow it on-topic and see how it flys.
    – Hemi
    Feb 12, 2011 at 0:44
  • +1 for Design.stackexchange.com
    – Dan Hanly
    Feb 24, 2011 at 16:49
  • +1 Rename it. BUT I do not see comic in Design. I love Comic and still buy them, but it is a way of communicate that it is completely different respect to more commercial product that we use for Designing. I read "making comics" of scott mccloud to learn about techiniques, but I still see that it doesn't match with Design issues. I see people coming and talking and questioning about his favourite comics, and I do not think that this is the target here. To me this topic as already an issue of dealing more with technical question for photoshop, than talking about alignment and style
    – Littlemad
    Mar 17, 2011 at 12:52
  • Disagree with including UI/UX - we already went over this - having two sites cater to the same questions is a bad idea. I'm sure that @Jeff Atwood would agree with that statement completely. May 12, 2011 at 19:38
  • 1
    I agree with Charles. Patrick's suggestion only makes sense if we assume SE sites live in an isolated silo. I'm hitting 4 or 5 SE sites during the day and if I have to wade through cross-posts all the time, it's just going to be annoying. You'll end up driving away more power users which won't be a good thing for the site.
    – DA01
    May 12, 2011 at 19:42
  • As for a generic 'design' that might work, but what is design? graphic? fashion? industrial? Architecture? Content? Programming? Engineering? Interior? all fascinating, for sure, but that's an entirely different type of site than one catering to graphic design.
    – DA01
    May 12, 2011 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Charles Boyung: Yes, we have already been over this. The take away I saw at this point from the Area 51 discussion was that we weren't going to merge the two proposals, but there is nothing to stop GD/D from accepting UI questions. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. May 12, 2011 at 20:09
  • @DA01: ". . . but what is design?" Exactly. The proposal here is simply a place to start because "design" is such a broad term, and only time will tell which questions flourish and which ones don't. But we have to start somewhere and three months later we still don't have any new and higher voted proposals. May 12, 2011 at 20:11
  • @Philip - have you seen all of the proposals on Area51 that have gotten closed because they overlap with existing proposals/sites? Exactly how is including UI/UX here any different? May 12, 2011 at 20:26
  • @Charles Boyung: I'm not going to get into this with you again. Since the discussions here and in Area 51, we've had commentary from Jeff and Robert with no protest to our plans and the site is flagged for a change in scope. We're just waiting for a start time. May 12, 2011 at 20:45
  • @Philip - also, where is this commentary from Jeff and Robert? I don't see it anywhere. May 12, 2011 at 21:21
  • Is the goal to get site traffic for the sake of traffic, or is it to define a specific group of interests? Making a broader definition of design may bring more folks in, but it's going to be a really loose set of interests. Not sure we'd be any better off.
    – DA01
    May 12, 2011 at 21:44

I think we also need to address the lack of expert answers to expert questions. This quote from Robert Cartaino blog post "Area 51: Asking the First Questions"

It has long been established that no question is too entry-level nor too basic. Everyone is welcome. But, in these earliest days, we are DESIGNING a site for experts. To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and challenging questions, not the basic questions found on every other Q&A site. Remember, the pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around!

The earliest questions on a site will set the tone and topic of the site for a long time.

(his emphasis)

We seems to have an overload of photoshop-effects, identify-font, choose-color questions. This was discussed a bit in a thread about migrating photoshop questions from photo.stack to here where @Littlemad made this comment:

I feel a bit undermined as profession to answer question like "how do you do a diagonal in photoshop?" instead of talking about design principle or solutions.

Now i still stand for not calling photoshop and other straight-forward questions off topic. But we do need to balance these with engaging expert level questions so that the site attracts the expert level users.

i had an attempt yesterday with a question about design trends though history, my rational being:

  1. i was interested
  2. academics love to categorize a design aesthetic
  3. its not easy to answer

It hasn't yet got the response i hoped for, so i might try a different tack. But i think this is a crucial stage, the site is still young, to be asking questions worthy of expert response.

  • I think this is a good point and is a good 'call to arms' for us to try and come up with some good questions to ask.
    – DA01
    May 12, 2011 at 19:54

SE users, in general, seem to be very web-centric folks. GD as it is now seems to get these types of people:

  • web designer/developers
  • web developers who aren't graphic designers looking for basic help on visual design
  • what is this font?

Nothing wrong with that. However, the first group, web designer/developers, likely already frequent most of the SE universe, so you won't be gaining a whole lot of new users there.

The second group ask pretty basic questions, but it's good to have them on board.

The 3rd group...well, there's already sites dedicated to that, but hey, the more the merrier.

The challenge that I see is that the folks that I'd normally see discussing graphic design on a level that other professionals would be interested in are already doing it somewhere else...be it their AIGA chapter site, HOW's forums, Typophile.org, deviantart, any number of the portfolio sites, any number of blogs, etc.

It's going to be a bit of a chicken vs. egg thing...you won't attract a lot of high level GD topics until there are a lot of high level GD folks joining.

Sorry, that's not much of an answer...more of an observation, I guess.


Oh, did not know the matter was spawning here as well.. I already made a complex point in this one.

My 2c here, is while matches with a lot of the options I proposed in the other thread, I see moderation problems if you disallow the "too technical" questions. There's a too thin, ambiguous barrier there, that will make many users with closed questions really not undestanding the closing, and possibly upset. I think if you open the scope, need to be prepared for some a bit more technical questions of those matters. Shouldn't hurt, though.

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