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I think I would like them better if they weren't so in your face.

(I realize that may be by design, but it does add a lot of clutter to the otherwise very clean design.)

enter image description here

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@jin is showing us no love, he's too busy prettifying other sites. Boooooo! This place is in need of a major facelift. (In all fairness he's doing great work on the other sites). –  casperOne Jan 26 '12 at 22:56
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I would, however, suggest that the color of each "share" button be restored when you mouse over it. –  Chris Frederick Jan 26 '12 at 23:19
    
@Chris yeah, that sounds like a good idea. –  Pëkka Jan 26 '12 at 23:20
    
D'oh! That's exactly what animuson suggested. Silly me. :) –  Chris Frederick Jan 26 '12 at 23:21
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Note that there may be trademark issues with changing the color of a logo. For example, Facebook's guidelines say that it must be blue, or black if you cannot use the correct color for "technical reasons". Not sure if something like this counts. –  hammar Jan 26 '12 at 23:50
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I think they would benefit from being placed in a div with height 0 as well. –  Won't Jan 27 '12 at 15:30
    
@Will that's truly Zen design, man! I like it. –  Pëkka Jan 28 '12 at 21:06
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6 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

We jump through a lot of hoops to make those share links non-contentious.

We aren't slowing down the page load with obnoxious includes (or raising any tracking concerns by including Facebook, Google, or Twitter resources), nor throwing 30 odd options onto every post (we pull the under performing links, like Linked In).

The whole point of these is to help sites in the network grow, under emphasizing them defeats that purpose.

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I've already desaturated the G+ logo red a lot, from the official logo. I know the official red is a bit too loud and distracting. However I can only tone it down so much before it's unrecognizable that it's a G+ logo. Gray scale doesn't work, because we actually want people to notice these icons and use them to grow the network.

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Can I draw your attention to this? –  Rahul Narain Jan 28 '12 at 4:39
    
This meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/2203/… is a similar request on TeX.SX. –  N.N. Jan 28 '12 at 14:02
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Please reconsider this issue and see if there's really no way of making the logo stick out less. There have been requests on at least three different stackexchange sites, some of which show examples of how this could be done in a way that seems reasonable imho. –  doncherry Jan 31 '12 at 11:52
    
I understand that you want us to use those buttons, but then who are you designing the website for? You are saying that you are doing a marketing-oriented design. I am disappointed by this answer because it seems that I had been trusting you too much. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 4 '12 at 15:17
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@TsuyoshiIto I design sites for the communities. We add elements that'd help the community to grow. That's what these share buttons are for. I understand not everyone uses these services, but please think about those who do. If a social media share brings 2-3 new people to the site whom become regulars later, that's a win. This is especially helpful to our smaller and low traffic sites. Do you disagree? This is not marketing, this is for community growth. I have found many interesting links to our SE sites' questions via other people's Twitter/FB/G+ updates. –  Jin Feb 4 '12 at 17:29
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Thank you for reply, but I disagree. Individual members of a community have different goals from the community itself, and “design for a community” has been always used as a euphemism for a design which ignores users. (See About Face by Alan Cooper for more on this.) I do not think that graying the icons is bad for those who use the icons, because they use them anyway. Graying them reduces the attention they receive, and as a result, they will not be used as often as they are now, but that is the whole point: please stop trying to draw our attention to what you want us to pay attention to. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 4 '12 at 18:26
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Jeff closed a similar question on meta.math.SE, but the issue is not quite identical. I see that, as Jin says, the Google+ icon on StackOverflow is indeed quite toned down. But the icon on math.SE is a much brighter red. Here is a screenshot-cum-proposal:

enter image description here

On the left are the actual Google+ and Facebook favicons. In the middle is what the sharing icons on math.SE currently look like. As you can see, the Google+ icon is pretty close to the loud red colour of the official logo. On the right, I've replaced them with equally faded out versions of the Google+ and Facebook favicons. If the current faded-out Facebook icon is good, then I think fading the Google+ icon should be as well. Edit: I just remembered, there's a word for this: it's tint.

Sorry for bringing up this site-specific issue on meta.SO, but as I said, Jeff has closed the question on meta.math.SE...

P.S. I'd also argue that for all icons to stand out equally well from the background, and not have one be unfairly more distracting than the others like the Google+ icon here, their colours ought to be equally far from the background (white, in this case) as measured in a perceptually uniform colour space. I can explain further if Jin would like.

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I agree. I didn't mind so much before because all of them were blue and flowed with some of the blue boxes already in the content. But that new red Google+ icon is really bugging me. It just doesn't fit in!

Could they be greyscaled by default and turn colored on hover?

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I don't think it "adds a lot of clutter" and that's how it is on all the beta sites, too:

enter image description here

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The Google icon is the only element in the entire layout with the colour red. That does jump into your face IMO, and the icons' having colour is giving them way more importance than they deserve. On the beta sites, it's less bothersome because the hand drawing makes it more organic, and there are other red and blue elements on the page. –  Pëkka Jan 26 '12 at 23:02
    
Yeah, about the beta sites... Not the best example, as they are intentionally designed to look "cluttered" to indicate beta status. –  casperOne Jan 26 '12 at 23:04
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@pekka well, the official logo colors for twitter and facebook just happen to be blue.. it's not like we decided to make them blue for style reasons. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 26 '12 at 23:08
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@Jeff as said above, my suggestion would be to make them all grey. I don't mind their being there, I just think they are a bit too loud. –  Pëkka Jan 26 '12 at 23:12
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@pekka well, the point of the sharing links is to be seen, yes? for the sharing..? So suppressing them too much is actively working against the reason they are on the page. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 26 '12 at 23:28
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I think it might suffice to make them stand out (fully colored or maybe even larger) for drive-by users and when you're not logged in. Long-term users are probably aware of their presence, even when they become more visually pleasing (blend into the grey symbol scheme). So it could behave like the reduced ads for 200+ users. (It's technically ads.) –  mario Jan 26 '12 at 23:36
    
I like Mario's idea. –  Pëkka Jan 26 '12 at 23:37
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@JeffAtwood: The only thing I'd do is change the order to: G+, Twitter, Facebook. Probably not worth the effort, but having them as RGB would be a nice pun. –  Goran Jovic Jan 27 '12 at 0:48
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If you look on English Stack Exchange, the Google plus red is hardly noticeable. But the blue Facebook and Twitter icons really stand out, and are not "harmonious" with the overall color scheme. But we didn't even consider changing Facebook and Twitter button colors. It would be confusing to have different color sharing buttons on each Stack Exchange site, depending on that site's color scheme. Well, I think it would.

Also, the colors for Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus are associated with the product/ services themselves. It would seem peculiar if the Facebook button were orange or purple, or even grey. I think that Google plus should remain reddish colored, for consistency.

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I disagree; even on english.SE I find the Google+ icon rather striking and the other ones subdued. –  Rahul Narain Jan 27 '12 at 22:10
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