SE is giving us pretty limited options for how the site is going to look going forward. Our most popular customization request, judging either from Carlo Beenakker's original suggestion or the discussion here, doesn't look likely to happen at least any time soon, because (according to Catija's comments at the first link above), SE wants those screen elements to be the same across the network.
As an example of a SE site that looks pretty good in the new theme, we've been pointed toward Worldbuilding. From what I can figure, the main difference lies in choosing a good background -- for example, look at the graph paper background on MSE. Right now we have this oppressive gray color which looks like a placeholder for something better.
So does anybody have suggestions on what kind of background might be good? Just as importantly -- does anybody have strong feelings about backgounds that would be bad? I think a poorly-chosen background could easily make the feel of the site even worse than it is now.
The one parameter, I gather, is:
- It can't be too dark. SE wants the left nav ("Home", "Questions", "Tags", "Users", "Unanswered" on the left part of the screen) to be visible on top of it.
A few warnings:
MSE already has a graph paper background, so we probably don't want that.
Mathematica stack exchange already has some kind of Penrose tiling in their header. So we probably don't want that either.
And one last point:
- Another thing to notice from Mathematica stack exchange -- a plain white background might not be a terrible thing. We don't have to go crazy.
A part from Responsive Design Themes - What can sites customize and how can they get changes implemented? which seems most relevant to the background:
Sidebars/backgrounds can have a light-colored solid, pattern/texture, or fade or even a combination. The left navigation text is black everywhere on the network and the navigation column does not have a separate color background, so the background must be light enough and without overly-distracting artwork so that it is of sufficient contrast and legible.