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Sometimes I see quite professional logos and people made an effort to make their GitHub-project look good, even though it is open source.

For instance https://github.com/unit8co/darts

Why do people pay money for logo design and a professional looking page, if the product is open source, so they don't make money with it and you are not the product?

What am I overlooking here?

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  • Passion. Simply put, passion. I have paid a lot of money for Logos and products that wear these logos. Just because I love doing this youtube channel/Instagram page/Github project/game I created etc. Not everything needs to return profit. If I like posting videos on youtube, post on instagram, push to git or make a game and I want to engage in a community and just have fun, I also want my work to represent my passion. Who cares about maybe 100$ if in return there are a handful of passionate people who like my work?
    – bibleblade
    Aug 16, 2021 at 9:13

3 Answers 3

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The project you reference is (amongst other things) used as an advertising tool and example of work of a company that does AI/ML work

It just uses the default GitHub Markdown to make a README and the actual separate manual is autogenerated using Sphinx.

That said, not everything you do is done purely for money, there are other perspectives that might include money in the future but don't need to.

Examples of reasons in no particular order:

  • The project is done as a professional reference

    • author(s) are doing it to expand their portfolio or to offer some solution they came up with
    • if they offer professional product, their chances of getting hired and their credibility goes up a lot
  • The project does make money by selling support for the users (a LOT of the time)

    • Even if you don't sell support, would you (as a potential user of said library) rather trust a library with nice documentation and professional visual identity or the obscure thing that does not present itself nicely? Professionalism and cool look sells! (even if sometimes for the wrong reasons)
    • When choosing a library, I line up available offerings that seemingly satisfy my criteria (license, quick look at the code, etc.), look at the number of existing users, documentation, and availability of support, and start eliminating. It is also a lot easier to present a library with a mature visual identity to my (sometimes non-technical) bosses and argue about its inclusion in the project when the thing isn't just defined by a man page and hundreds of pages of code.
    • If you want your library to get used - especially in segments where there are a huge number of alternatives (javascript libraries/frameworks anyone?) - you better do it professionally and one of the professional things to do (down the line) is look the part.
    • The authors of your referenced library are members of a company that uses it as an example of their work and openly advertize it as a part of what they do and use
  • The visual identity is done as a professional reference

    • There are designers and visually creative people out there that need professional references. One of the ways to do this is to make stuff on open-source projects. Who says that you have to be a programmer to do so?
    • You can be fresh out of school creative and need some things to include in your portfolio, making a logo for a friend's/schoolmate's open-source library is a nice way to include something into your CV and to help out a friend or someone you wish to support
  • The author(s) want it to look nice for whatever reason ranging for pleasure from work well done to "Hey, my brother/supporter/colleague/fan, who has experience in making visual identities, did this for me as a gift"

  • They preselected some sort of a visual identity from a generator/listing (and might have manually tweaked it)

    • This includes your example. Everything in it (maybe not the logo) is made using well-established tools automating the process and used by developers to generate documentation without investing a lot of time or any money, allowing you to get nice visuals
  • The project is done by a company that already has an established visual identity and the open-source/free project is just sharing and following company guidelines (Google for example)

    • The visuals in the blog posts referenced from the GitHub/Documentation contain graphics that seem to be generated using either the visual identity of the company that made it or the established blog service it is presented upon. The logo might have been made by someone in the company too. Hey, it's also advertising their work!
  • They take pride in their work and want to present it nicely


This one was mentioned by DavidR in the comments:

  • The library/project is a reduced version of the paid model and they used most of the same design elements from the paid model
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  • 1
    Or this is a reduced version of the paid model and they used most of the same design elements from the paid model.
    – David R
    Aug 18, 2021 at 22:38
  • @DavidR True, that one slipped my mind.
    – mishan
    Aug 19, 2021 at 19:13
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It's interesting that you are not asking about one's reasons to release their work into public domain. So you do understand why someone would give away a product of their labor, right? How wanting something to look nice is so different from other aspects of taking pride in one's work?

Let say, when visiting someone, you decided to to bring them a cake. Wouldn't you have it packed nicely, even if has additional cost? The likelihood that the package would be discarded very quickly is high. The way your present tastes does not depend on packaging. So why people bother to make things nice?

The above example is really not that different from the subject of your question.

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Any number of reasons

Pride in their work is probably the main one.

But in some cases they are professionals, a professionally made logo is something they are competent to either do themselves or can get done gratis or cheaply.

From personal experience my free stuff actually looks fancier than my paid because the paid are work tools and have constraints to work within.

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