Comments on June 21st Edit:
You're going to hate me, but I actually think the updated design looks more like a constellation. For example, Taurus:
Especially with the symbols that were unique to aviation (VORTAC and airport) removed, there's really nothing about it that strikes me as aviation-related. If I had to pick between the old and the new versions, I would pick the old.
I still think that a hub and spokes design would convey the "abstract aviation map" better because it would more resemble a real map. To demonstrate what I mean, I put together a real quick and dumb example by basically tracing this part of a real chart and then simplifying. It came out like this:
I don't know how others feel, but that screams "aviation chart" to me, and doesn't say "constellation" at all. I initially was an advocate of the triangle intersections, but in this version, they just felt like unnecessary noise. They're the least aviation-specific of the symbols, and therefore the least interesting. After a conversation in chat, I also threw in a VOR/DME instead of just VORTAC's; partly to mix it up, and partly to acknowledge that VORTAC's are fairly US-centric, whereas VOR/DME's are more common worldwide.
Anyway, that's my two cents as a community member.
Stéphane is probably really tired of hearing my (sometimes contradictory) opinions, but, since it's been posted publicly now, I thought I'd share my thoughts openly as a community member.
First, I really love the overall design concept. I think it would have been easy to fall into the cliche of a cartoon biplane or a 747 which would not be very representative of our community. Instead, the wings in the logo well represent both winged aircraft and the pilots who fly them. The center being an abstract attitude indicator further says "this site isn't travel or airliners.net, it's for people who fly, design, or work on aircraft". Even some non-fixed-winged aircraft (like helicopters) have attitude indicators, which makes its representation of the community more inclusive. In summary, I think the logo is perfect.
I personally like the color choices. I know some people have objected to the red because it's a "danger" color, and I've countered with several examples of prominent red logos in aviation. I'll trust Stéphane's judgment here as to whether the color should be changed.
I really like the concept of the abstract aviation map, but I agree with the recurring sentiment that it tends to look a bit too much like a constellation, and not enough like an aviation map. I mentioned some of my thoughts in a comment, but to expand, I think there are two things working against the current design:
- It looks too random. Airways (which are the most obvious mental connection for the lines) always go to or from a navaid (yes, I'm aware of RNAV routes.. but their intersection symbol looks even more like stars, so probably not a good choice for reducing the constellation feel). For example, this area of the design:
shows a cluster of intersections and airways between them in a manner that you would never see on a real map. Sometimes, an airway will bend at an intersection, but both directions will go off towards a navaid, and you won't see more than one bend in between navaids. Here's an example of the hub and spokes pattern you'd see on a real map:
If it were up to me, I would use more navaids (perhaps including VOR/DME, not just VORTACs), more airports, and fewer intersections (triangles) because the triangles are the least aviation-specific of the symbols. That being said, there may be good design reasons for not going in that direction.
- It's self contained. On a real map, airways constantly go off in all directions. You can see in the image above that there are lots of lines which go off the edge of the map. The fact that, in the design, there's one big outline, and no lines which leave it, makes it feel isolated rather than expansive as a segment of a map would feel.
I think if those things were addressed, the design would immediately evoke "abstract aviation map" for more people.
There is a question of whether or not airways should connect to airports. Even though they don't in the real world, I initially advocated that they should connect because many airports are coincident with navaids, so pretending like they connect to airways isn't actually a big stretch. It looks better than overlaying a navaid with an airport, and the map was already pretty busy, so adding free-floating airports was risking making it too cluttered. Maybe that won't be true with a hub and spoke design, I don't know. I do tend to think that the airport symbol is the most important of the symbols to include, but I'm willing to defer to the designer's judgment on how to best include them. It is intended to be abstract, after all.
And again, I really want to thank Stéphane for his work and for putting up with me. We're being picky, but either way, I'm really excited to see the design go live on the site.
On a personal (non-design related) note, I wanted to say how proud I am of this community. I feel, in my time at Stack Exchange, I've "grown up" along side the site. I found out about the Area 51 proposal on my third day of work:
I followed the proposal and got to see the process of a site being born on our network. Over the years, I've gotten to see passionate people take ownership, and it's helped drive home that, while Stack Exchange may provide the platform, the site is really the people.
You all, your actions, your concerns, your questions have prompted me to have many discussions with our community managers that I wouldn't have otherwise ever had a reason to have. I've learned a ton from them, and I've tried to share their wisdom as best I could. It's been a huge privilege for me that I wish more people at the company would get to experience.
And now, I'm no longer a new employee at the company, and Aviation is a graduated site with a design ready to go live. It's like we're all grown up. Thank you to everyone who built this site and made it your own.