Hi all,

As you can see the new design is live, which means Physics-SE has been officially launched, and is no longer a Beta site! Congratulations! Also, thank you for the feedback on the design.

I decided not to use the handwritten font as much I did in the mockups. I agree with you that they're a bit harder to read at a smaller size. I'm only using it for the top nav and header text.

If you're still seeing the old favicons, load the follow two urls in your browser and hard refresh:



If you see any CSS glitches, please start a new post, and tag it with "Design" and "Bug" so I can track them easily.

Once again, congrats!


locked by mbq Mar 2 '11 at 10:44

Hurray! :) Thanks. – Eelvex Feb 24 '11 at 22:31
@Eelvex yes. I edited my post, please see the instruction. – Jin Feb 24 '11 at 22:33
I have to say that this isn't quite as bad as I expected. Quite on the contrary I am starting to like it. In other words: great job, thank you! :) – Marek Feb 24 '11 at 23:03
I do like the font choices you settled on. Although I'm still not a fan of the light-on-dark color scheme, I suppose I'll get used to it eventually, and it certainly looks like professional quality work ;-) Nicely done and thanks! – David Z Feb 24 '11 at 23:13
@Marek Thanks! I know dark theme can be tricky. I tried a bunch different shades of lighter gray and dark backgrounds, on different monitor gamma settings too. I believe what I ended up with is quite easy on the eyes. The Meta is contrast is a bit higher than the main site. – Jin Feb 24 '11 at 23:14
@David--not only am I not a fan of the light-on-dark color, I find it hard on the eyes and extremely difficult to concentrate for more than afew seconds. Seriously, if you navigated by chancd to a site with white on black background,how long would you stay at the site...not long, I would think. I think this needs a rethink. – Gordon Feb 24 '11 at 23:39
@Marek--try reading a long and mathematical answer with the white on black and tell us that you are still starting to like it. It will be a way to limit the length of time people hang out on the site. – Gordon Feb 24 '11 at 23:42
I don't know if I'll be getting used to this inverted design... Currently I feel more like asking "d00ds, cans you givez me serialz 4 m4tlab pleez?" – Tobias Kienzler Feb 25 '11 at 8:33
(I don't mean to be harsh, Jin, I like your designs for math, tex, unix, gaming, gamedev and what else I've seen so far) – Tobias Kienzler Feb 25 '11 at 8:35
Interestingly a dark background on a computer screen requires more energy and causes more eye strain than a light background. The design is great but the color scheme could use a few changes. – Deepak Vaid Feb 25 '11 at 10:23
@Jin It is not for no reason that 99.99% of websites with some substantial text on them use a white background. Not to talk of magazines, books, etc. they ALL have white background. This site is great from an 'artistic' perspective, but not from a 'design' perspective, since design should adapt to the purpose of what you what are designing, in this case we want it to be readable first and foremost. – user1708 Feb 25 '11 at 11:28
@Jin: Using a dark theme is not good as it very much disturbing to the eye. I don't know why TOOK this idea. Math symbols do appear very much blurred. Sorry i am not in support of this black theme. the rest is perfect. – S.C. Feb 25 '11 at 13:49
As an older person, I find the new color scheme quite tiring. If I had the perfect (glasses corrected) vision of 25 it wouldn't bother me. But as your vision decays, darker images result in larger pupil sizes and this degrades acuity. This is a physics problem that, if you live long enough, you will eventually explore. – Carl Brannen Feb 26 '11 at 0:58
How about a "democratic" choice of the design? In my opninion the black background is unattractive and will harm the site's popularity. – Gerard Feb 28 '11 at 10:52
At first I thought I'd get used to the design, but after a few days, it's still not working for me. Yes, it does professionally done - I'm not disparaging Jin's talent - but I agree with what much of what people have been saying about the color scheme, namely that it's hard on the eyes. – David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:18

11 Answers 11

What's bothering me about this design is the usability aspect of it. White text on a black background isn't exactly eminently readable for me. Is there any way to use a whiteboard instead?

Or the white notebook look?

I'm sorry, but I just find this design to straining for me eyes.

Me too, I can barely read anything. – Greg Graviton Feb 25 '11 at 9:32
@Anna: Nice that design look excellent. Hope JIN Changes it. – S.C. Feb 25 '11 at 13:50
@jin --hope you are looking at the posts and upvotes for black on white. Functionality trumps design when you are reading script and equations. Clarity is more important than uniqueness. How many people here actually said they like the color scheme. I have seen 2 lukewarms. – Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 4:33
It was maybe 15 years ago that I quit using pencils (mechanical and otherwise) in favor of ink pens. As far as physics and math goes, I now use nothing but dark colored gel pens. Readability is very very important as you get older. – Carl Brannen Feb 26 '11 at 6:09
Agreed it is simply difficult to read! might want to try this (haven't tried it myseld) lifehacker.com/#!259456/… – Trufa Feb 28 '11 at 11:16
Thanks for the response. GW – Gordon Mar 2 '11 at 15:31

The previous design was much more attractive to me. Especially irritating is now the blackboard background with not completely erased stuff. It looks at least dirty, foggy, and distracts attention. The white font is not white but grey so the contrast decreased. Please, return the beta version. Thank you in advance!


Based on extensive meta feedback, site design is withdrawn indefinitely.

@Jeff--Many thanks Jeff. I guess "The Castle" now has a happy Hollywood ending :) I just saw "The Social Network" and was likely feeling paranoid :) – Gordon Mar 2 '11 at 15:36

This is an issue that I don't think anyone foresaw, but some old material uses images with transparency, and those images now can't be read. For example, I just checked out an old post I wrote that copied an equation from Wikipedia as an image. The black text of the image doesn't stand out against the background any more. What happens when you cut a biconvex lens in half?

that's a good catch. I've added a white background color for all images in the post body and preview panel. But it didn't make it in for the launch. It will be in the next deployment. – Jin Feb 24 '11 at 22:49
@Jin Great, thank you. – Mark Eichenlaub Feb 24 '11 at 22:52

Have You ever read something on readability of a design?

I doubt it.

Apart of the dark background this "just vanishing" things (physics on a blackboard?) are very irritating. I am a "quick" reader, this design is distracting.

No need to be rude. Of course he's read about readability, he's a designer for Pete's sake. – ptomato Feb 25 '11 at 22:35
@ptomato --- well, a designer should know for whom he is designing...light on dark text is ok for very brief texts, but for longer texts, particularly with equations, it is hard to read, hard to concentrate, and annoying. Do you actually voluntarily go to any web sites with a similar color scheme. If you do, do you stay there? – Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 4:36
@Gordon, notice I didn't weigh in with an opinion about the color scheme. I was remarking on the tone of Georg's post, which I consider unnecessarily aggravating, whether the color scheme is good or bad. – ptomato Feb 26 '11 at 8:38
@ptomato, ""Of course he's read about readability, he's a designer for Pete's sake. "" Then it is done deliberately? That is rude! BTW, this kind of response is typical "Hold the thief" by the thief itself! – Georg Feb 28 '11 at 15:05

I appreciate all the work that went into this, but the new white on black is fatal. I would not dream of recommending to my colleagues to visit this site as long as this horrible color scheme is in place. It looks unprofessional, unreadable and is a pain for my eyes.

It should be converted to black on white (or something similar) as soon as possible; right now would be best - each day in this design will drive away potential visitors for a long time.

I strongly suggest to use the beta-version design in the meantime, until this issue is settled.


Thanks for the design. However I am not exactly pleased with what it does to the highlight SOFU tag greasemonkey script which made it easy to spot which and how many tags of a question actually are favourites:



Physics is an image and equation based subject. It is not something that you can jam into whatever color scheme you like. We may use blackboards for classroom demonstrations but we don't publish them.

Here's what a standard Feynman diagram from wikipedia looks like in the new scheme, a big white light, not a good combination with dark background:


Suppose I want to use a symbol not supported by the site LaTeX such as. This is fairly common. Here's the gim symbol gim used in a physics paper http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0505220 that now will look like heck every time it's inserted.

White on black is incompatible with physics standards for text. This means that whenever we copy text from a physics book, Latex renderer, or other source we will have a big white square in the middle of our equations. Now when we copy a block of text from a paper (which can be much quicker than having to LaTeX it, especially if it's complicated), this is what it looks like:


White on black is a great idea for a designer but is unsatisfactory for working physicists.

@Carl--You mean "white on black" is incompatible with physics standard texts" don't you? This black background is insanity, but the SE honchos seem to think that somehow the black background was inspired by Feynman (ie looking at Feynman's blackboards) IMO Feynman would be going on one of his rants("NOoo,Youre crazy..") if he were to scan the black site. I agree with your last sentence. The white on black site works against clarity and ease of understanding complex ideas and text. +1 – Gordon Feb 27 '11 at 1:48
@Gordon, ooops, fixed. – Carl Brannen Feb 27 '11 at 4:39
Just invert the colors and you're done. – Janne808 Mar 2 '11 at 5:38

I am new to physics., but wanted to say i REALLY like the design. I think it looks great!

I like it too, but every time I switch tabs to another site (most of which are dark type on light background) its like someone hit my eyes with a mallet. – dmckee Mar 2 '11 at 0:05
I also agree with @dmckee, the white on black looks nice, yet it does so only if that is the only thing you're looking at on your PC. However, since everything else I use on my PC has by default a darker background than the font colour, this was really straining my eyes. – Tobias Kienzler Mar 2 '11 at 9:49

The new design looks good. I can't understand the comments about not being able to read "white on black". Maybe you have neurological sensory issues or are color blind?

Thumbs up from me.


Well, It was expected that most complains would be about the "white on black"...

But I must say that this is generally not true, that it is unusual setup for physicist. Or even that it is more more diffcult to read/write in this case. I personally spend a large part of my working time either using blackboard (which is black), either writing LaTeX/code in Vim in unix console (which is black). So for me there is no need to adapt to such a palette.

You are comparing apples with oranges. – Marek Mar 1 '11 at 15:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .