We finally seemed to have gotten HNQ advertizements for our site. Those advertize selected Hot Network Questions from our site on other sites, using the 220x250 community ad slots that each site has. This is done by overlaying a base image with the respective question text. An example for this would be this ad, based on this base image:

enter image description here enter image description here

(As you can see, there is a severe problem with the font color of the question text. However, this is not the subject of this bug report and is already adressed in a similar question on the main meta and a recent question on our meta and seems to be some kind of default font color instead of one adapted to the site design.)

But for now I am more concerned about the base image itself, which seems rather inappropriate when compared to our site design as well as the HNQ ads of other sites. There are various problems I'm going to list in decreasing order of importance:

  1. The color scheme itself is significantly different from our site's color scheme as presented in the original site design and as used in the top-bar of the site as well as any other place involving the site's characteristic orange-red. It thus fails to appropriate represent our site's brand. For comparison, here it is (left) next to the site color (right):

    enter image description here enter image description here

  2. It is significantly less "exciting" than many other sites' base images. It only has the logo inside a completely plain background. If you look at some other sites' ad images (as listed here or the currently running ads here), you can see them usually include various design elements, be it only just some faint background imagery that already helps to lighten up the plain-colored wall.

  3. The image seems to suffer from significant compression issues as visible on the logo. Using a PNG image instead of JPG seems to be an option for HNQ base images as demonstrated here. So this might be solved this way.

  • 1
    We're fixing the color, text, and compression. Should be updated soon. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 11:35
  • @KurtisBeavers is this the live version i.sstatic.net/iQ81B.png because its still not eye friendly.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 10:55
  • @KurtisBeavers I see that the font color problem seems quite solved now (at least to some degree). Are you still working on the background image (since the color scheming, compression and plainness are still problematic) or is this considered solved now? In any case, you might want to use one of the images provided by the community in answers to this question, be it only temporary until the design team has fixed the image. Substituting it should amount to just replacing the image (and changing the link to go to .png instead of .jpg).
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 11:28
  • @AnkitSharma A new, less-compressed version with adjusted color was made, but I'm not sure it's live in circulation yet. I'll double-check. Thanks for the heads up. Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 11:30
  • @KurtisBeavers I just noticed the new background image and it looks amazing! Thank you very much!
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 12:31
  • @KurtisBeavers nice work, the image is really great, appreciable for sure. But the plain white text appear bit off to the image and seems blurry from a distance. I think a text shadow will be look better, i have tried with text-shadow: 2px 2px #454444 i.sstatic.net/jqkEi.png .
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 12:49

3 Answers 3


To not only complain about all the things but contribute to an actual solution of the problems, I made a few small changes to the base image that might already improve it to a large degree. I would allow and encourage the actual SE designers to use them if they deem them appropriate and time issues don't allow for a redesign of the entire ad.

First of all, I will provide PNG images for better quality, which should still be in the acceptable range of file size, though, as suggested by the other ad images which live in the 2-digit kilobyte range. (Though, remember to also switch the link to .png if you switch the format. I mention this because it resulted in a dead link bug recently where no image was shown.)

The color scheming is easily solved, I took the logo as present on the top of the main page and scaled it down to fit into a standard 220x250 SE ad image:

enter image description here

Next, for some more interesting "background noise", I just took our famous and beloved movie excerpts, as known from the site's top bar and chat, and put them into the background in the form of a film strip, similar to our general Community Ad. While those images are already quite a bit red-orange-tinted they might still be a bit distracting when the actual question text is later laid over them. Therefore, I also tried to further blend it into the background a little more (to 50% and 66% respectively):

enter image description here enter image description here

Together with a font color that actually matches our site design's color scheme, as taken from the light and dark colors from our color scheme enter image description here for the font and shadow respectively, this would look similar to this:

enter image description here enter image description here


Our HNQ ad base image has been updated and all the problems the question adressed seem to have been solved. It's more exciting, uses a matching color scheme and doesn't suffer from significant image compression issues anymore:

enter image description here enter image description here

There are still some issues with the font, which is a bit too bold and blurry, but at least has a better readable color now (even if not from our color palette). But those issues are already adressed in a separate question. I'd consider the base image more than fixed now. I want to thank the SE design team for fixing this issue and giving us such a nice and fitting HNQ ad image.


Alternately, go with a lighter touch on the intense colours:

enter image description here enter image description here

Using this proposed system but adapting it better to the site's color palette, something similar to the following approaches might work as well:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • It looks dull to me and that light shade in the top of background image is not even part of the site. Anyways attempt is appreciated.
    – Ankit Sharma Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 7:11
  • That doesn't fit to our design at all. What might work would be to use the lighter color from our actual color palette as background and the darker one for the font. Or maybe our dark cyan font color (which might be the one you've chosen, can't see right now). But as it stands this doesn't seem to reflect our site's color palette.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 12:16
  • Maybe a selection of those could work with your system, though: i.imgur.com/4I6tCQ3.png.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 12:39
  • 2
    I chose to adapt your proposed system a bit more to the site's actual color palette. Feel free to roll it back if it doesn't match your proposed approach anymore. I'd still say it's a bit more lame than the bright orange version, but it is an interesting and reasonable option, too.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 12:44
  • 1
    @TomCody Those look good. Thanks for creating those. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:11
  • @doppelgreener Well, they're not that great either and could still use some improvement regarding the font and font styling, it was primarily the colors I was concerned about there and only had MS Paint at my disposal.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:13
  • @TomCody I have a thought about a middle-ground colour that could look pretty good. Will add it in a few hours when I get that opportunity. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:18
  • Try to make sure it is a color that is prominently used as part of the site's design, though. This is the primary problem with the existing ad and we should try to not introduce additonal colors that can't be found in the rest of the site's design.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:22
  • @TomCody To me the primary problem with the existing ad is you can't read the text very well! The actual colours on the site are red, white, and the stock beige in the community sidebar. However, sticking absolutely only to colours on the site design isn't a rule we need to observe - the banner needs to be there, and whatever else is there needs to feel like it belongs to this site. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 15:45
  • 1
    But it has to transport the brand of the site. I mean look at the current ad's background color. It might seem to be the site's color on first glance but on a closer look it clearly isn't and thus transports and incorrect brand. The other colors from the palette are well used across the entire site, from the cyan tones of all the links to the grey-beige of all the tags and thus give a recognition effect of the site.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 16:00
  • Yeah so much read is always so much red. A saner ad would be better, even if that annoys Joker.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 12:50

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