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Is there a medium/long-term plan for a total revamp of the SE user interface?

I noticed the list of recent badges was removed, and now the top bar is completely changed (access to the meta site link is obscured, which is bad, in my opinion).

Where are we going with this?


Also, there's no link to the main site from the meta site. What's up with that?

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    $\begingroup$ Also, there is no link on the top to return to the main site from meta. More information on the change can be found here $\endgroup$ – user17762 Dec 4 '13 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ The first item in the "StackExchange" menu at the top of the page. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Dec 4 '13 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ @GEdgar Yes, but that seems a bit convoluted. $\endgroup$ – user17762 Dec 4 '13 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, they've been working on a new top bar for a while (it was rolled out on the trilogy sites a couple weeks ago). Looking at MSO's top-bar tag seems to indicate that many users are experiencing problems. I'm not entirely certain about the rest of the UI changes. (The list of recent badges can be found on the Badges page; I'm not particularly against its removal from the front page.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 4 '13 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ Not enough "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!!" $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Dec 4 '13 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ This StackApp may eventually be useful for those longing for the old top-bar. (At least it can add the meta/main and chat links.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Dec 4 '13 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ I thought possibly a good friend in MSE has died... Now I see it's just fun... An awful appearance in my view. $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Dec 4 '13 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Art: I'm not against the removal of the badges list either, but I still noted this and together with this... expletive deleted change... I figured there might be some longer-term plan for how the site should look like. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 4 '13 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ This new Top pane looks hideous and unwelcoming! If you are going to make changes, please improve rather than obstruct. $\endgroup$ – Amzoti Dec 5 '13 at 3:35
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    $\begingroup$ I feel the black color not only "unwelcoming" but also eye-catching. The MSE-sites have a certain bonus at me for showing a relatively (and getting rare) clean and quiet appearance. The eyecatchers from the "advertizing" I can luckily switch off (however I do not see then the images in questions (that is where images make sense) ... :-( ) - but now another eyecatcher. It distracts the natural attention with which I look at the questions of the new day - but for what reason? Don't they like my concentration for the questions of askers and do they like more my attention for the designers? $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Dec 5 '13 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ As it's usually expressed in high society circles of the Ivy League: the new interface sucks! Before, placing the pointer on one's nick one could immediately see how many points one got in one day, the last week, the last month. All that is now gone for good...or hidding as a taliban in Afghanistan Mountains. I also cannot see any really important enhancement with the new bar... $\endgroup$ – DonAntonio Dec 5 '13 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ One more point which makes me a bit suspicious. As a teacher in University I have always diskliked the new software, which hides the names of the students and only show their numbers (one must specifically click some butten to see the names of th persons). Now instead of "Gottfried Helms" on the screen's top I see only an anonymous avatar... Well, there's something I begin to dislike here $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Dec 5 '13 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ @draks: I know it's a hot issue, but I don't know if it actually deserves a tag. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 5 '13 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ Upvote this comment if you liked the former user interface better. $\endgroup$ – Julien Dec 5 '13 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ Equally... vote this comment if you think our opinions doesn't matter at all for this matter. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 5 '13 at 22:51
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Update: SE was not deaf to the flood of complaints about the color. At first they made the color a tiny bit lighter (from #212121 to #2f2f2f), and then, upon a suggestion from SciFi, made it completely black but slightly translucent: rgba(0,0,0,0.8).

Not quite as black anymore. Feeling better?

One more thing that's not mentioned often: there is no easy way to see how many votes you cast today (and consequently, how many remain at your disposal). I think this may hurt voting. With the older design, whenever users checked their reputation changes, they got a subliminal reminder that voting exists, and some may have felt a bit guilty about 0 votes cast so far. Not any more.


The blog post does a good job of explaining the SE reasoning. It seems that the top bar is not the beginning of a major transformation (for which SE does not have designer manpower anyway), it's the major thing itself.

The inbox redesign was long overdue. "Open once, get new comments; open twice, get badge notifications, open thrice, get hot questions" was a ridiculous setup. The hot questions were evicted from the top bar and had to go somewhere; they landed in the sidebar, displacing the (fairly useless) list of recent badges. I think these changes makes sense enough. (Except that non-MathJax sites now have to deal with LaTeX gibberish on their front page, like Find $x$ such that $\sqrt{x+\sqrt{x+7}}\in \mathbb{N}$.) It sounds like the next step may be a revision of the Hot Questions algorithm, which would be nice.

Yes, it now twice as hard to switch between main and meta, but maybe this will result in less time being wasted on meta.

The only really stupid thing about the redesign was the one-color-fits-all approach:

It turns out that when you try to pick a color to match 40 different site designs, you quickly realize you only have one real choice: black.

Of course black does not fit every site. Just look at what the top bar did to the stellar design of Christianity.

Hence, the explosion of user stylesheets and userscripts for changing the color. After some experiments, I went with the plain white. The "Stack" part of StackExchange disappears on white, which is fine as far as I'm concerned.

light theme

Interestingly, the file holding sprites for the top bar has a large "MathJax sponsor" text in it. Is it actually shown anywhere? I haven't seen it.

sprites

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    $\begingroup$ Only one SE site has been spared from the Black Bar: Ask Ubuntu, which has a special non-SE top bar. Let's quit math and turn to Ubuntu use/development. $\endgroup$ – Post No Bulls Dec 5 '13 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ "If you’re ever in doubt, the best practice is usually to choose a very light color for the background, and a very dark color for the text itself." The "only ... one real choice" should have been white or a very light gray. $\endgroup$ – OR. Dec 5 '13 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ There are meta links on the right in "community Bulletin" which, IMO, are more conveniently located. I've been using them for so long that I didn't even notice it was missing from the top bar! $\endgroup$ – user14972 Dec 5 '13 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ Do I understand things correctly that one can adapt that colors by some local/remote script? Is this a simple thing (perhaps explainable in few sentences)? $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Dec 6 '13 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @GottfriedHelms It is a simple thing, but details vary depending on your browser. An easy way is to install an extension such as Stylish or Stylebot, which allows one to manage custom stylesheets. In the post I linked to meta.SO post with several such modifications. $\endgroup$ – Post No Bulls Dec 6 '13 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ To your edit, I don't see a real difference. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 6 '13 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Before and After, the current bar is the bottom one. Screenshot from Chrome, browsers may differ in gamma correction and such things. $\endgroup$ – Post No Bulls Dec 7 '13 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I see some difference. Not good enough, though. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '13 at 9:10

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