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UPDATE - We've pushed this live for everyone now. Thanks to those who took the time to give feedback. Please do know, being live doesn't mean we can't address further changes for you! Write an answer if you find anything that needs addressing.


As part of implementing the new unified themes across the network, we're gradually rolling out updated site themes for each site. As of today, we have enabled your updated site theme for testing.

If you can't see it right now, that's by design! This is a very early test implementation of your design and we need your help finding issues with it before we make it live for everyone permanently. So, keep in mind, there will be things that need fixing! We'll address those things as we can.

If you'd like to review it, here's how:

How do I enable it?

Click here and check the "Beta test new themes" option. This will turn on the new theme for all sites that have one in testing, including this one. Here's more info on how to opt in. You can uncheck the box to revert to the older theme until the site is live for everyone. Note, while turning it on is immediate, it will take a few minutes to revert to the old view - but it will go through!.

What type of feedback do we need?

On this post: Bugs related to this site's design elements

Please help us look for issues/bugs related to the theme design and how we have mapped the old theme to the new. This needs to be done within the limits of the new unified theme.

This could include colors of sections of the design or text, problems with JavaScript add-ons (if applicable), the logo or top banner appearance or other artwork.

You can also feel free to ask questions about the new layout if you're unsure how to navigate it.

On Meta Stack Exchange: General concerns about left nav or theming

There are some things that are definitely changing everywhere and can't really be adjusted on a per-site basis. A few of them include:

  • Top banner is shorter in height, so some artwork has to be adjusted along with some logos.
  • Left Navigation is active everywhere (but can be collapsed into a menu by visiting your site preferences - instructions here).
  • Responsive layout is active, which lets the site adjust as browser widths change - no side scrolling (some pages haven't been updated, yet, though). For now, if you prefer the scrolling, you can disable this by clicking the "disable responsiveness" link in the footer.
  • Many site elements including tags and voting arrows are standardized across the network.
  • For Serif sites only - This site uses a Serif font but common elements across the network (headers, sidebars, buttons, tags, queues, etc) are now sans everywhere.
  • Link underlining is active. In an effort to make links more visible, they are now being underlined.

If you have concerns or issues regarding the left nav or the overall approach we are taking to theming, then this Meta Stack Exchange post is the right place for feedback.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some unique design elements like voting arrows and tags that are being standardized in this process. Keeping these custom elements makes our ability to maintain the sites too complex and, while we're very sad to see them go, we're in a difficult position of needing to make the site designs work together so that we can continue to address feature requests and bugs that will make your Q&A experience better. This is addressed in a Meta Stack Exchange post if you want more detail.

What new themes?

If you're like, "What the heck are you talking about?", then you should read the Meta Stack Exchange post entitled Rollout of new network site themes (and maybe the posts it links to for the full background). To follow along with the rollout of these new themes, go here.

Thanks so much for your constructive feedback!

Oh, Who am I?

If you don't know me, I'm one of the Community Managers here at Stack Exchange. I'm here to listen to your input and convey it to our Design team for responses and fixes to bugs. I'll do my best to respond to your concerns and explain whether changes we've made are bugs that can be changed or if they're by design and why.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The new design is waaaay to bright. I mean, the old one wasn't too dark either, but now even the dark brown header is gone :( \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Sep 18 '18 at 22:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster I just want to be sure you realize: you've placed that critique in one place where it's definitely not going to be considered or acted upon by anyone. If I'm reading Catija's post correctly, this would be a valid "answer" to this meta which would be a nice thing to post: people could vote up/down to indicate agreement. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Sep 19 '18 at 1:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ is there a way to switch back to the old theme/layout? \$\endgroup\$ – Loki Laufeyson Oct 6 '18 at 5:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LokiLaufeyson There is not. The old theme/layout is gone. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 6 '18 at 10:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelspooker would it be possible to implement a way to change that? Some type of setting or something like chrome's flags to revert to the older ui? visuals are kind of important on a website and if i can't stand looking at something and can't change it back i'm probably just going to bail and go elsewhere, if i'm being honest. \$\endgroup\$ – Loki Laufeyson Oct 6 '18 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LokiLaufeyson There won't be anything official. The old themes are being phased out because they were too challenging to maintain and upgrade; that makes it impractical for the devs to also continue offering them in some form. You can leave feedback by answering this question (for this specific site's theme) or this meta post (for the network-wide rollout). It does suck that this site isn't quite as pretty as it once was. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 6 '18 at 11:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelspooker i... don't actually have an account on the main stackexchange. i joined here at rpg. and while i would like to give them a piece of my mind on this matter, i've come to understand that my opinion isn't worth very much on these sites and being that i'm asking for the option to go backwards i'm likely going to be met with a flat "no." or worse. i'm going to search around for a solution, and will share it if i find one, but until then i'm probably just not going to come to stackexchange sites anymore. \$\endgroup\$ – Loki Laufeyson Oct 6 '18 at 11:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LokiLaufeyson I'm afraid the option to go backwards will indeed be met with a flat "no". It isn't feasible, much the same way once you make a major overhaul repair of your car you can't have the old version of the car too. As communities we can only move forward here, identifying what isn't working well (in aesthetics or function) or what can be improved in the new themes and providing feedback on that. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 6 '18 at 12:03

26 Answers 26

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Poor visibility of answers being accepted in search results

Currently answers in search results break a base-level accessibility guideline:

Success Criterion 1.4.1 Use of Color: Color is not used as the only visual means of conveying information, indicating an action, prompting a response, or distinguishing a visual element.

(This is a level A success criterion. Level A represents the lowest baseline that all sites should aim to meet.)

The only way to tell an answer is accepted is by a slight color change. It's also a very low-contrast color change so users with poor vision (or mild color blindness) are going to have trouble seeing the difference.

(The contrast algorithm employed here checks color contrast from a color blindness perspective, mainly by looking at luminosity difference. A score of 3+ is OK and a score of 4.5+ is good. It's mainly targeted at checking text color against a background. Here though it shows that from a poor color vision POV these two shades are extremely difficult to pick apart.)

A comparison to demonstrate the difficulty

Here are the search results for is:question. Which of these questions have an accepted answer? How many? How much effort does it take to determine the answers?

some questions in search results

Below is a search for is:answer. Same quiz again: which answers are accepted answers? How many of them? How much effort does that take?

some answers in search results

Probably this second one took a bit more time and effort and, unlike the first quiz, some careful looking and squinting.

What should change?

Questions (the first quiz) get a high-contrast inverted box to show whether they have accepted answers or not. The high contrast difference in the boxes make it easy to spot the difference, even if your vision is poor or you're color blind. Questions are good and fine.

Answers (the second quiz) are not so good.

two answers in search results.

One of the answers in this screenshot is accepted, the other is not. Accepted-ness is only indicated by that small color change in the score. Answers should instead get a clear non-color visual indicator of acceptedness: a full box if they're accepted, or an outline as Catija mentioned in comments, or something like that.

Scifi.se noticed the same issue and requested the same fix. I think it's a good one, and that this same fix should be rolled out to other sites with the new layout.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We should definitely look at this. I think that this is probably universal to all sites with the new design, since the accept indications are the same everywhere. Should be something we can fix once. Maybe a bold border around the accepted ones? I'm a bit confused by the "full box if they're accepted, an empty box if they're not"... that's how they are right now, is it not? Empty box with white background, and dark text vs filled box with green background and white text if it's accepted. Maybe if you could give an example of what you mean? \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija I've updated the last section. Is that clearer? Question results are fine, answer results are the ones that need an update. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 13:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah! OK! I got confused because an answer on my Academia post is saying that questions aren't fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 13:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Huh, OK. I am not sure about the nature of that report. One thing we do with accessibility sometimes is add a texture to distinguish elements, such as in this answer where I revised the picture in the original to add stripes to the red pieces: now red-green color blind users can tell the pieces apart. A little tick beside the score (for accepted answers) or beside the answer count (for Q's with accepted answers) would accomplish this. Maybe that's what they're talking about. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 13:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm worried that adding another character may be an issue on sites like PPCG where questions can get three-digits in the answers or, on the answers view, answers with 3+ digits scores... this would be particularly a problem on SO and I'm guessing it's why the answers aren't currently in boxes. Since the border on the unaccepted ones is so faint, would a bold border on accepted questions be an alternate? \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Ok, no need for a character. As far as I'm concerned, the way questions show up in search results is A+, perfectly good. I do not understand the report on Academia very well and don't see what the problem is (the texture/symbol was just my guess as to what they were asking for). Just to make sure we're still clear, the bug report here is just about how answers show up in search results: adding some kind of visual element to distinguish them would be good. That could be a border around the score for unaccepted answers, and a filled box for accepted, just like the answer count for Q's. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes! I understand. :) See the second link I added with a screenshot of SO. Those five-digit vote counts wouldn't fit in the box we use right now, so we may have to come up with an alternate solution than the full box. Maybe we could underline them if they're the accepted answer instead. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see what you mean. What about a checkmark that sits vertically centered just beneath the "votes" word? The results are individually tall enough there's space to fit a checkmark there. (Alternately a wider box!) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to confirm, until you pointed it out and I looked really closely, I didn’t realize accepted answers were distinguished at all in the answers view. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 20 '18 at 13:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep, this is network-wide (even Stack Overflow has this design) and has been this way for a while. Copying over the formatting from the questions view would be an improvement, though not one that's direly needed; you can already filter down to accepted answers only with is:a isaccepted:yes (or no instead of yes for showing only answers that aren't accepted) \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Sep 20 '18 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ OK, so... apparently we're going to be making a big push for accessibility issues next year (once the unified theming is out for the network) and this is something that does need to be addressed network-wide to make it more clear. We'll look at it when we turn our eyes that way. Thanks for mentioning it. :) (and all of the other accessibility stuff, too) \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 2 '18 at 22:11
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The transition between the main center pane and the darker header and sidebars is visually jarring, and looks like someone copy+pasted a white box on top of something else.

The old theme uses a dark-colored top bar, stylized 'watercolor' fading at the edges of the header art, and a subtle gradient in the background image of the main "questions" pane to produce a smooth, attractive look and feel for the site, where the center pane seems like a coherent part of the whole page:

old theme, with attractive gradients

The new theme, because it is missing the top bar and doesn't include the background image gradient for the center pane, looks jarringly like the center pane is out of place, or is part of a different image that has been incorrectly pasted on top of something else:

new theme, with unattractive hard edges

I'm not sure what exactly the correct solution is here:

  • Should the center pane be darker?
  • Can the center pane have a gradient, where it's darker at the top, like the old background image? I know custom background images are no longer a thing, but maybe straightforward gradients are possible?
  • Would it be less jarring if the sidebars were more similar in tone to the center pane? Or maybe it would be better if they were less close, to make it look more like an intentional boundary and less like a messed-up image?
  • Can some kind of "framing" be added to the center pane, like the old dark-brown top bar, to make the "this is an intentional boundary" parts of the image clearer?

I'm not a designer, so there may be another, better solution I haven't thought of here (I, personally, would endorse variants 5a and 5b from doppelgreener's answer), but as-is, the edges of the center pane are an eyesore to me.


Note: A new brown top bar has been added since this answer was posted. I think it's an improvement!

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I've added variants 4 and 5 to this post which add an accented border to the main content. Does that look like it improves things? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 10:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like a bar has been added per variant 4a. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 4 '18 at 9:02
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For me, 25% less space for the question list and questions themselves

I am actually one of the users who actually uses the site in a narrow window: you know, the folks for whom the old design “looked bad” and should be benefiting?

I am not.

The space devoted to the actual question and answers is now absurdly tight. It’s very uncomfortable, and detracts significantly from my user experience. And this is after turning off the useless waste-of-space that is the left navbar.

Some images, taken with my window at its usual width:

Old theme

Front page with old theme

The .summary div, where the question title and tags are found, measures 530px here.

Question page with old theme

The .post-text div, where the question text is found, measures 667px here.

Beta theme

Front page with beta theme

The .summary div now measures a paltry 396px: a reduction in space of over 25%.

Question page with beta theme

The .post-text div now measures 506px across: a reduction in space of also nearly 25%.

Where is the space going?

The loss, of course, comes from the fact that the page itself is shrunk to my screen, and that space is taken away from these regions of the screen. Where before I could happily leave the right navigation half off the screen, now it is required to be fully displayed on my screen. It’s 300px wide with 24px on both the left and right of it, for a total of 348px (on both pages). That is well over a third of my screen real estate, and let me tell you, none of that information is worth a third of my screen.

Which itself leads to an obvious solution: at a small enough width, the right navbar should be losing width. A fixed 348px block on the right is just seriously problematic. Losing 25% of my space over the far-less-important stuff over there does not improve my experience. It actually substantially worsens my experience, and makes me think that SE doesn’t actually understand what the priorities here are. Which has been my concern with this entire fiasco from the beginning.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There's still a lot of work going on deciding when to drop the right navigation. For the time being, you can use the link in the footer I mention in the question to turn off the responsive design (if you want to use the new layout in general). This will return the side-scrolling effect. Note, however, that at this point, that link is temporary and will be removed at some point TBD. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija See, but that would also be a poor experience for me: if it’s hidden entirely, I can’t see that there might be something over there that I want to check out. Currently, I can. Turns out, in this case, horizontal scrollbars are actually good UX for me. Weird, I know, but if the whole point of this is to aid users with narrower screen widths, shouldn’t it be improving, not degrading, my UX? The solution I propose is not just dropping the right navbar, but shrinking it, at least until that becomes untenable. But, of course, advertisements... \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ We can't shrink it. There's content there that has to be at a fixed size. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Right, which is Stack Exchange telling me that I have to lose space for the part of the site that actually interests me, so that they can guarantee that ads are shown fully on my screen. That doesn’t assuage my feelings that this entire redesign was based on priorities that have absolutely nothing to do with users and what they’re looking for from the site. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Considering we let you block ads entirely and are happy if you do so, that's... not precisely fair to say. Most sites don't even get served ads at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Including this one! But nonetheless where you serve ads, you have obligations to the people buying those ads, you have to show their content at a fixed size (which increased not so long ago), and this is a serious problem with the entire design being driven by that fact. I don’t have a good solution for it, off the top of my head. But it is the kind of thing I expect you to have figured out a solution for, and it doesn’t feel like that effort was made. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 13:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ The first thing I said was "There's still a lot of work going on deciding when to drop the right navigation"... That's... pretty much all the info I have. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Fair enough; my point is that I hope those discussions aren’t just about when to show it and when to drop it, but also that there is some thought put into what to do in between. It matters. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps a user style to restore a fixed width? This design is a substantial improvement to my ability to moderate on mobile, so it’s not categorically a UX degradation—it depends on use-case. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Oh, yeah, that is certainly my plan in the end, and I can get why that’d just be “good enough,” but... it’s not great. If better can be done, I think it should be. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 14:39
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Top bar looks weirdly blank

Beta theme with top bar highlighted with red hand-drawn arrows

It just looks strange, switching from one off-white paper-y color to a different one, and from a grid with images on it to a blank space, and it’s just so large with so little in it that it looks very strange. And this is at drastically reduced widths; at larger widths it looks even weirder.

Some kind of divider between the header and this top navbar is necessary, I think. The existing brown header, of course, would be ideal, but if that’s non-viable there still really ought to be something.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Something like the brown border in version 4 here: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/a/8397/44424 ? As a note, that section is only that empty on that page, for the most part. If you look at a tag page or search results, there's a lot more content actually utilizing that space and we want the elements to be in the same place on all of the pages. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Looking at the mock-ups that have been provided here, that doesn’t seem sufficient. An improvement, no question, but not enough. Also, for example, Search inserts another element between the header and Ask Question button and the Active|Featured|Hot|Week|Month box, expanding the space it has to fit in the search bar—so sure, things may use some more space, but they aren’t using that space—they’re adding more space as they need. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 21 '18 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija That said, at the moment, I don’t have a solution that I suspect will be considered conceivable per the goals here, I just know this looks poor and the little border being added in, while an improvement, isn’t enough on its own. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 21 '18 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that we're talking about responsive design. Full screen views aren't the only views: i.stack.imgur.com/crFd9.png \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 21 '18 at 19:53
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The “Top Questions” header looks out of place

Beta theme front page with “Top Questions” in a hand-drawn red circle

The site logo and the question titles are in serif fonts, and this is in a sans-serif font. It’s not the only thing on the page that is (the various buttons, tags, and labels are as well), but it’s the only large thing that’s in a sans-serif font. The other sans-serifs are used in smaller fonts sizes and look fine. This looks out of place, and does not go with the rest of the design.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a screenshot of the page with that element altered to use the same Serif font as elsewhere: i.stack.imgur.com/EdtRe.png \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 13:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ As I pointed out in the question, these elements are sans by design. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija And as I’m pointing out in this answer, that design looks bad and I think it should be reconsidered. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 13:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not site-specific, it's the entire network. My understanding of the problem is that, in order to allow for the responsive design, these elements need to be of a fixed size, which isn't possible (or at least is unlikely) if they're two different fonts. Planning out the layout of the page is one thing for user-generated content that can be wrapped. For fixed elements like headers, it makes "fitting" everything pretty much impossible. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija It's two fixed words in a fixed range of fonts: surely they can assess the smallest & largest sizes that the "Top Questions" text box will take up and account for those in their designs? I've been doing responsive front-end web development for five years, I can't imagine this being broken by the few pixels difference between sans serif and Georgia. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener It's not two words. It's on every different page. One one page it's "Top Questions", on another page it's "Unanswered Questions" on another it's just "Tags"... or "Search Results". \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija It’s still a small number of fixed words, and you would only have to handle two fonts rather than one (one serif and the other sans-serif), and ultimately, this is a solved problem. Stack Exchange is far from the first website to have to deal with this, and with situations where it isn’t a small, fixed list of fixed text, and other sites have managed. I do this for a living, and no, I just don’t buy the technical-limitation excuse. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I also do this for a living and don't buy the technical limitation angle. This doesn't sound reasonable to categorise as a no-budge problem. I believe the design team can and should be able to change that font without breaking anything (the design is even resilient to wide text and line breaks in that heading). I understand they've decided it must be this way by design... but I also believe that to have been a cop-out decision they should re-assess. (Thank you for clarifying the ways that heading gets used, however, so that I understand better.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 14:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ OK, so, this has been enough of a concern (on multiple sites) that Jon very kindly wrote up an explanation for why this is the way it is and that it's by design. @doppelgreener I hope that it helps explain the situation somewhat. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/315762/… \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 21 '18 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Thanks for forwarding on the explanation. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 24 '18 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ "By design" does not equate to "good idea". This is the most jarring part of the new design, and it's one that will come up frequently. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Oct 3 '18 at 15:51
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The Meta theme is sans-serif

The original Meta theme is serif, like the Main site theme. Though the beta theme for Main is serif, the beta theme for Meta is sans-serif.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I had a feeling it looked different! (Besides the obvious changes, of course.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 19 '18 at 21:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't personally mind the difference myself, but if that's also a request to make it serif or something you consider a bug, I suggest making that explicit. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 22:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Generally we keep the main and meta sites matching... I'm not sure what happened here but I'll ask around. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 22:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I’m okay with it either way, hence the lack of specific request. I did think it was probably unintentional though. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 23:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am making the request explicit, here: please make the metatheme and the main theme match. I don't actually care, at the bottom, whether it's sans or serif (though I truly do prefer the serif), but they absolutely should match. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Sep 21 '18 at 11:47
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- As of writing, this color isn't configurable per-site but most of the sites with non-white backgrounds for their content areas have the same concern. We'll be looking into making this a different color in the short term but only using color to set it apart isn't a great choice, so we'll be looking at alternate options for making these questions stand out when we start working on accessibility concerns. ~Catija

Are highlighted questions highlighted enough?

By “highlighted questions”, I mean those that are on the shaded background due to being a watched tag, as below (the Traveller question). I find the highlighting to be barely visible, and think that perhaps a couple of shades darker might be better. Alternatively, a thin dark brown border top and bottom might be OK with the present shading.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Old design: #fff7e4 on #fffbf1. New design: #fffbec on #fffdf7. The contrast was always slight, but it also got reduced slightly in this change, from a contrast ratio of 1.03 down to 1.01. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 21 '18 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener - I'm actually thinking that matching the base color of the background (at the left edge of my pic above) would do nicely. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Sep 21 '18 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ That would actually have some undesirable results. First is that's a bit dull to have our text against, it would be more difficult to read the summary and heading. Second is it would have an undesirable effect of making the question look like it was cut out as not actually belonging on the page. It would stand out but in a quite poor way. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 21 '18 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener - It still needs greater contrast than it has - and while I didn't really have any complaints about it on the old theme (contrast 1.03), I think that it should probably be a little higher than that, even. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Sep 21 '18 at 13:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree it should have increased contrast. Using the page background colour will achieve that goal but is the wrong decision, we just need a more contrasted shade of yellow or other highlight color. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 21 '18 at 14:11
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Good call on using more than a colour difference to set these apart! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '18 at 23:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @catija - I agree that more than a color difference would be ideal! \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Oct 9 '18 at 13:44
10
\$\begingroup\$

I did some editing in my own browser to see what some variants would look like. Crossed out ones aren't feasible under the new layout.

1. Header image flipped horizontally

enter image description here

2. Header image allowed to fill space

Technical implementation: in this variant the image is added as an image element instead of a background, and fills space until it touches the logo (which has flex-shrink: 0). The image winds up as 96.9px tall.

enter image description here

3. Header image allowed to fill space and flipped

enter image description here

4. Top brown bar

This is an attempt to fix the issue A_S00 pointed out. Presented without/with the header image flipped horizontally (as in variant 1).

The #content element loses the side borders and gets a new top border matching the footer color:

#content {
  border: none;
  border-top: 4px solid #5e2b1a;
}

(Things look weird and bad if we keep the side borders because of how browsers handle borders.)

4a:

enter image description here

4b:

enter image description here

5. Top brown bar with header image filling space

Combining variant 4 with variants 2 and 3.

5a:

enter image description here

5b:

enter image description here

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I like both of the "allowed to fill space" variants! \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Sep 19 '18 at 6:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ So far my personal favorite is variant 5 (a or b). \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also like both of the 5 versions! \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Sep 19 '18 at 16:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Really, I'd prefer 5A as it maintains at least some of the integrity of the original art. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 19 '18 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan In 5A I notice it also removes the weird emphasis placed halfway across the page by the single figure in the current design, because he's instead right beside the logo where we're looking anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 18:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ We can't change the height of the banner, though, so many of these options aren't possible. 1 or 4 a/b are the only ones that we can implement. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 22:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Hmm, ok. I'll try to work in that constraint if I do more. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 22:33
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and the other thing to consider when flipping the image - on narrower screens, the logo will start to overlap the image somewhat. With the white/grey/brown colors of the left side of the image, that's not too big of a problem, but with the red of the dragon it may be difficult to read the text. I was looking at it earlier on my phone in landscape and noticed this overlap. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija: Good point. After testing it, I'd like to disagree about the "not too big of a problem" part, though. As soon as the text starts to overlap the figure on the left side of the image, it becomes really ugly and hard to read. If you resize the page narrow enough, the image disappears completely; IMO, it should do that much sooner to prevent such ugly overlap. (Either that, or the figure on the left should just be removed entirely, or moved to the right side; ironically, the text looks just fine on top of the dark castle in the middle background.) \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Sep 25 '18 at 10:32
10
\$\begingroup\$

Why are we wasting 2 inches of screen space with an empty left sidebar? The site is about Q&A, use the space for the content please.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ The sidebar is an option. There are instructions in the question for how to disable it. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 5 '18 at 22:13
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Now that I’ve turned it off it only wastes an inch and a half? On the iPad the max width of the content leaves a square and a half of the background grid on either side empty. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 5 '18 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see what you're seeing. What browser/OS/iPad are you using? When I use Safari with landscape mode on my iPad and the left nav collapsed, there's no background at all. i.stack.imgur.com/L9mtk.png \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 11 '18 at 22:35
9
\$\begingroup\$

Far too much waste of horizontal space.

Why is there a column dedicated to Home, Questions, Tags, Users, Unanswered? Why are votes, answers, views aligned horizontally? This is more than a third of the page wasted.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Because someone at Stack Exchange is convinced that this is how proper websites look and absolutely must conform. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 5 '18 at 14:51
8
\$\begingroup\$

On mobile (specifically mobile Safari for me), the review queues have buttons with white text over a pale gradient, giving too little contrast and making them slow to read accurately:

Mobile version

(Since those pages aren’t responsive yet, they’re extra hard to read on small screen devices.)

On desktop the button is solid and darker, so it's okay:

Desktop version

The Meta versions are fine as the desktop version doesn't have a gradient, and on mobile the gradient is subtle and dark.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There's nothing in the queues at the moment, so this is difficult for me to check. Next time you see it, will you add a screenshot? I've had someone mention this somewhere else... SFF, I think... and it may be a problem only in Mobile views, so if you can also note whether you're on a mobile device (and which one) or desktop view would be great. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 15:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, here it is: scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/a/12076/41668 \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 15:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Hm, looks like the image uploader is also unusable on mobile due to the dialogue not being responsive enough to allow the submit button to enter the viewport. Give me a minute… \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 15:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija There, got it off my phone and into the series of tubes! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 15:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Confirmed that the queues aren't responsive yet. Is that a known issue? \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Sep 21 '18 at 2:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder Many things aren't responsive yet. This meta is just for the things missed in converting our theme to the beta theme — things like button colours and such. Issues not specific to our theming are probably better on MSE. (I now get the impression that the issue with these buttons isn't a colour setting missed in the conversion, but rather because these elements haven't been redesigned yet at all to even use the beta theme settings.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 21 '18 at 19:46
8
\$\begingroup\$

It's too bright and it hurts my eyes.

With no change in settings ( use this on a laptop and on a desktop; not a mobile user) the roll out is visually unappealing and too bright in comparison to the one we changed from.

At a different forum where I am a moderator, we had a recent new interface that took quite some time to deploy. It was obviously aimed at mobile users; the reaction was largely negative, with a few mobile users piping up with appreciation for how their experience was improved. (Granted, some stuff on the back end was cleaned up, but a further inadvertent result was the turning off some of our mod tools; that does not apply to my user experience here.)

This is the message you are sending: we cater to the mobile user.

If that is your intended message, I suppose that's good news for you to know that it is clear from your actions. It is also good news for a portion of your user base. If it wasn't your intended message, then you now have feedback on that score in terms of what your actions say to a user.

As with my other answer, my feedback is clear and direct: zero value added (to the user experience) with this change.
(mxy already covered my other observation, regarding wasted screen space).

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Is it weird that I kind of prefer the semi-monochrome here on Meta to the main site's seemingly superbright color scheme? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 6 '18 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan there is less visual noise in the meta page presentation. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 6 '18 at 14:28
7
\$\begingroup\$

Headings are a bit closer closer to the line above than the line below. See:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed egestas sem nec lorem ullamcorper, ut suscipit ligula rhoncus. Fusce eu orci a tellus dictum efficitur gravida vitae diam. Proin eu eros eleifend, sollicitudin metus nec, cursus nibh. Duis mattis tempus posuere.

Heading level 1

In ultrices dignissim dui eget pulvinar. Sed eu dui non lacus consequat semper. Sed congue ante pulvinar purus elementum, eget tempor neque pretium. Vivamus pharetra fermentum bibendum. Ut in posuere dui, vitae scelerisque mauris. Suspendisse eget condimentum turpis. Nunc fringilla leo et justo posuere, a lobortis lacus tempus. Integer a augue est.

Heading level 2

Integer iaculis est vitae neque efficitur, sit amet pharetra lorem aliquet. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec pharetra orci sit amet leo vestibulum, sit amet pharetra neque euismod. Donec non ipsum ut sapien sollicitudin suscipit pharetra at nisl.

Heading level 3

Vivamus ullamcorper ligula eget lacus volutpat hendrerit. Ut dignissim augue sit amet gravida eleifend. Proin ullamcorper, ex a blandit accumsan, leo nisi tincidunt augue, sollicitudin ullamcorper eros nunc sagittis lectus.

This is effectively a regression of a bug from a few years ago but with a different cause.

This time the cause is the following:

  • paragraphs and headings both have a margin-bottom of 1em
  • neither has a margin-top
  • 1em is relative to font size
  • headings have a bigger font size, therefore have a larger pixel value for 1em
  • this means the gap below the heading is larger than any gap above it

One way to fix it would be to add the following to the LESS:

h1,
h2,
h3 {
  &:not(:first-child) {
    margin-top: 1em;
  }
}

This means any heading that isn't the very first line in a post (or in a quote) gets a margin added above it equal to the heading's 1em. When two margins overlap, browsers render the larger of the two, so this amounts to headings having an equal 1em gap above and below them.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nested bulleted lists have a similar visual problem (can’t be bothered to inspect the code, take screenshots, or write up an answer, because I am just exhausted by this entire process) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 7 '18 at 12:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I'm not sure what issue you're seeing, but if you can point me to where you've seen it or how to reproduce it, I can do some poking around in the code. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 7 '18 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you nest a bulleted list inside a bullet point, there is a large gap between the text of the outer bullet and the first item of the list, and no gap at all between the last bullet of the nested list and the rest of the text of the containing bullet (or the next bullet, as the case may be). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 7 '18 at 13:05
7
\$\begingroup\$

The Role-Playing Games title image looks blurry because of the boarder, almost as if the image was badly scaled up.

screen shot

Just blow up the image 300% and see.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a screenshot? The logo is a vector image (an SVG file) so it won't have scaling issues, unless there's a browser rendering issue. But maybe it's because of the outline—the logo was made to sit against a background that's been replaced by a different one. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '18 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelspooker Could be indeed. I've uploaded a screen shot from home (4k, Firefox 62.0.2, Fedora 28. It is blurred? I do not need better glasses right?… \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Oct 3 '18 at 7:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like it's rendered properly from what I can tell, but it may be the border causing an impression of being blurry. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 3 '18 at 11:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelspooker Zooming the image 300% and you can clearly see the border is the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Oct 3 '18 at 11:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ We can, but the color choice used for the border might be creating visual 'fuzziness' around the letters. It was made to stand the letters apart from a very dark background, and now it's on a very light background... so it's probably not still an optimal choice of color for the outline. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 3 '18 at 11:58
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The blur appears to be an optical illusion, not a rendering issue-- but it's human vision we care about, so that optical illusion matters. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 3 '18 at 15:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ohhh, I understand now. I didn’t understand this at first because I couldn’t see any blur around the text stroke, but it’s the stroke itself being so close to the background colour, so that it creates an overall impression of the red text fading into the background colour. Now that I see it, I can’t unsee it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 3 '18 at 17:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I experimented with putting a black or grey stroke around the whole, but if it's dark enough to eliminate the blurriness, it makes the word-logo unpleasantly busy; if it's light enough to not be busy it just increases the blurriness. I tried darkening the tan border, but that just makes the whole word-logo muddy. Dropping the tan border doesn't look good either. Not sure there's a trivial technical tweak that avoids proper designer thought and time. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 3 '18 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder optical illusion is a great word for it. 👍 \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 3 '18 at 22:19
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Ohhhhh, thank you for this. I spent too long looking at zoomed-in screenshots thinking "well, it doesn't look like there's too much antialiasing going on... but why does it still look blurry on the actual page?!" It's definitely the low contrast between the border/shadow color and the (new) background. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Oct 5 '18 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ironically, the black-and-white version of the logo here on Meta has greater contrast, making it not seem blurry at all. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 15 '18 at 22:16
6
\$\begingroup\$

We fixed something that wasn't broken. Yay?

No disrespect intended to the folks who were tasked with this change -- time and effort appreciated -- but the site worked just fine before this.

Value added? None.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I see this response a lot but I'm not sure I understand it. The site layout as is is actively preventing us from implementing many features that many users have wanted for a long time. While I understand that many users are happy with the status quo, we know that we can improve on what we have and we'd really love to. I know that these changes are hard but saying "it's not broken"... isn't really true. Every time we implement a new change, lots of sites break. This change makes that much, much less likely. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 4:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Cajita I suspect that since you see a variety of things from the back end that I, as a regular user, do not see that what is apparent to you is transparent to me. Again, I realize some people put some time and effort into this, and that effort is appreciated. Maybe this is a case of "where you sit informs what you see." I am unsure if the dot alerts in the review queues are working right, or not. That feature has been inconsistent since it was put in, as I have mentioned a few times in meta. But, and this is key, it does not keep me from doing reviews either way. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '18 at 11:43
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija As users we don't really understand what will get changed or fixed after this rollout though. We're told it's necessary to fix stuff but we don't know what that will mean for us. We genuinely have no information. If there was a “these are the cool things coming for everyone after the rollout!” post full of genuinely cool improvements, a lot more people would be more willing to trade their themes for those things. Right now we're just trading our theme for ... things ... sometime ... of some nature ... maybe ... \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 14:00
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ ... and since the themes are good, and the replacements are not as good, it just occurs as a strict downgrade. All recent development changes are entirely serving Stack Overflow too, so given no different information, it looks like we're giving up our themes for things that will only benefit SO and won't benefit us. So we really only have SO's word to go by and no choice but to accept that, but we don't have anything helping us understand why it's a good deal. (Consider this a request to post such a thread describing what can actually be improved after the rollout to help us understand.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 14:03
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Part of the difficulty is that our ability to share that info so that everyone can see it is something we need to improve. We've been pretty public about some of the changes we're working on, like Custom Questions Lists which is absolutely useful to many sites outside of SO. I see you specialize in DnD - with this saved search feature, you could create a favorite search for unanswered questions in the versions you know. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 14:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The other problem with a post full of stuff that we're planning to work on is that we're scared... we hear you, even though it seems like we don't, and there are a lot of people who are rightfully upset and tired of us starting big initiatives and then cutting them off or talking about them without ever starting anything. A big list of things is great - if we can actually follow through with implementing them - but sometimes, doing so is much harder than we thought or it takes longer than we'd planned. So, we wait to talk about them until they're imminent. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 14:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Don't worry about it. I got the ping anyway since I was the only commenter on your answer. :D I don't know if it matters but I've only been working here for two months. Before that, I was a moderator for two years and was about as in-the-dark as everyone else here. Even now I don't have a full understanding of what's in the works. The Review Queue Indicator is a troublesome beast and we've been trying to balance it as best we can. There's a few posts on MSE about it that explain how it works but there are a lot of odd caveats. I'll put those links in another comment for you. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 14:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ First announcement of the update to the RQI: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/302226/… - Testing logic for the RQI: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/304445/… - Setting triggers for the RQI: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/305893/… If you have any questions about it, please don't hesitate to ask on one of those posts! \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 14:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija I no longer specialise in D&D but in other questions, but D&D remains the most popular stuff on the site—I could definitely use question lists here to see the games I do currently play and answer on. :) This is actually the first time though I've heard that was a feature anyone was planning to roll out to other sites. For the past several years Stack Overflow's been on a visibly different development track with features no other sites are expected to get—if this means other sites get features like this one that's worth communicating clearly for sure. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 14:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Yep. And all of that changed back in November, @doppelgreener. We realized that we'd pulled too far away from our core product, Q&A, and we were utterly neglecting it for something we could do but probably not competitively. For the last year (and in future plans), our focus is on Q&A. That's why we're developing the Ask a Question Wizard. Right now it's SO only because it's going to take a lot of customization for individual sites but my fondest hope is that we'll be able to customize it for communities that want it. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 20 '18 at 14:59
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija I would leap on the chance to have a Q&A wizard for this site. We have a handful of concrete common issues we experience with new users that would be trivially solved by walking them through some steps first, like a “say which game you're playing” step. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 15:09
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ One of the things this fixes that was broken is that the code for all UIs of all sites are being unified into one codebase, instead of many individual ones. This means less dev time implementing new features, so more [feature-request]s will get accepted. It also means mobile and desktop are the same UI, so all the site features missing from the old mobile UI are suddenly available to me without devs having to design and code them twice for a separate mobile codebase. The site is already miles easier for me to use and moderate on mobile. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 20 '18 at 18:01
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Layoffs are highly unlikely. As I understand it, their backlog for code improvements is crazy long, and hiring hasn’t gotten ahead of its growth. Making complexity reductions in a codebase is the standard way of getting past problems where your workforce can’t scale fast enough to keep up with the exponential growth of complex code interactions. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 20 '18 at 18:09
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH Thanks, and arrggggh, it's a tough world out there. best wishes to you all. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 20 '18 at 21:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast It was broken though. A picture says a thousand words (in this case mostly ranging from grunts of disgust to screams of pain :P). To explain what's happening there, when the CoC banner was added, the content except for the header image was pushed down, revealing a hole in the header image (you can still see the very top of this hole because of the change in the top bar thickness). Although few were as bad as this, I found that most sites' designs were negatively affected by the CoC banner, which should've been a simple, painless change. \$\endgroup\$ – Laurel Sep 22 '18 at 2:02
5
\$\begingroup\$

The beta theme on mobile is a vast improvement.

Until I saw a comment by SevenSidedDie on another answer, I didn't realize the beta theme was usable on mobile, since the old mobile mode theme continued to load in my mobile browser despite opting in to the beta test.

The solution (which I haven't seen anyone mention and wish was a bit more clearly publicized) is to go to the footer on mobile and click on Full Site so that it switches to the desktop mode theme, which (if you opt in to the beta test) is actually the unified beta theme with the responsive layout.

It's a huge usability improvement for me, since I do a lot of my browsing on mobile, and the old mobile mode theme lacked a lot of features of the normal desktop theme, including the ability to flag posts and comments. It used to be that if I wanted to flag something I had to go through the hassle of switching to the desktop mode, flagging using a really really tiny link, then switching back to the mobile mode... or else I had to travel all the way from my couch/bed/kitchen to my laptop. Now that the mobile and desktop modes are unified to the same responsive theme, this really improves the experience for me.

In addition, I find the appearance and layout changes from the old desktop theme to the beta theme somewhere between "benign" and "a mild improvement." Notwithstanding a few minor annoyances that others have already posted about and which will probably be improved soon, I don't see what all the push-back is about (don't try to explain the push-back to me-- I'm capable of reading the other answers and comments). It's cleaner and, with the unification of the desktop and mobile themes, it's a usability improvement for me.

I will not be opting out of the beta test, and I look forward to the theme being officially implemented.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I absolutely love the new mobile behaviour of the new theme. And I can do all my modding without switching between desktop & mobile themes in the footer!! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 20 '18 at 22:51
4
\$\begingroup\$

After looking at some earlier previews for other sites on Meta, I was fearing the new site theme, but it's actually very reasonable given what I understand about the parameters.

Placing the top banner in the right half of the top bar, slightly scaled and slightly cropped, looks like a reasonable compromise for now, but there are three things that show that that image was not designed for the spot:

  1. Previously, the scene was framing the header text, but now there is a lot of undue emphasis on the leftmost cyberdude sitting in the middle of the top bar.
  2. Trying to find a balance between making things too tiny to recognize or cropping them off means that the sleek cyber design of the middle cyberdude's gun, intended to highlight the contrast to the fantasy elements, did not make the cut.
  3. The overall dark banner with a few bright highlights puts undue weight on the two-thirds mark (or so) of the otherwise very bright screen. This is not a place to highlight, because it is the content-free area (the separation between main body and right sidebar), and for questions there is even a good chunk of negative space between a question title (if it is short) and the “Ask Question” button just below the banner.

Compared with the banner just above it, the “Ask Question” button looks slightly too bright and red/saturated in my eyes. This is obviously co-dependent: In case you re-visit the banner, that may change how I perceive that button.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I also find the very right edge of the artwork distracting--it's got a quick fade that makes it look like the artwork isn't right-aligned with the main body division, even though I think it is. (See the dragon's frill, for example.) I wonder if shifting the artwork left ~1/4 width of the main division would solve a couple of these visual problems? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Sep 19 '18 at 1:46
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if a horizontal flip would make the artwork look more fitting? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 2:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, having worked with the image to craft a community ad, I noticed it's always had a wide notch cut into the bottom that matched the outline of the original theme's menu bar graphic. I wonder: is there an original image that doesn't have that notch cut out? If that could be found (perhaps Jin has the original?), it would allow less cropping and more of a complete image to be used in the beta theme. (Compare beta image.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 5:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking about the horizontal flip too, so I opened my dev tools and did some fiddling. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 19 '18 at 9:19
4
\$\begingroup\$

It's...pretty good!

My one specific complaint notwithstanding, I'm actually pleasantly surprised by this theme. After seeing the debacles on a couple of the other sites that previously had heavily-customized, high maintenance themes, I feared the worst, but I think this strikes a decent balance between StackExchange's need for unification, and the stuff I liked about the old theme.

I'm especially pleased that:

  • The header art is still there in some form
  • The "graph paper" background is still around
  • The "in color" vs. "black and white" distinction between the main site and meta was kept
  • Tables don't appear to have been mangled too badly (still want to check this further; that's hardly the most intensive example of a table on the site)

(I'm posting this as a separate answer from my one piece of actual criticism, so that people can vote agreement/disagreement on them separately.)

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree. Other than minor annoyances (which I've seen others mention already), it's a really benign change. I've been using the beta theme for days now and I've already mostly forgotten that a change even occurred. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Sep 20 '18 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ It’s really not. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 6 '18 at 16:00
4
\$\begingroup\$

The blank area between the RPG logo and the old sci-fi/dragon picture bothered me (probably more than is reasonable).

I did some tweaking for comparison, and here's a quick shot of the background dragon image centered. I prefer this to the original, but note that changing your browser width will change the placement here. An absolute position could be used, but it's more than I care to fiddle with for a simple example.

Background image centered

This second image is the same centered tweak as the first, but I narrowed my browser window. The way the text overlaps the character is awkward, and reinforces my desire for an absolute position rather than relative.

Background image centered with narrow browser

The third image is a slightly narrower browser. This is the point at which a few odd things happen. First, the meta bar on the right gets flowed to the bottom of the page. Second, my rep count and badge counts have disappeared. Comments tell me this was a deliberate choice, so I've opted to keep it here for comparison.

Background image centered with even narrower browser

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    \$\begingroup\$ The disappearing user details in the topbar and the sidebar reflowing to the bottom are intentional: that's the responsive design responding to a narrow viewport by providing a more mobile-friendly layout. It makes sense when you're looking at it on a naturally-narrow viewport like a tablet or phone. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 19 '18 at 3:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Thanks for the confirmation; updated. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Sep 19 '18 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Yeah, except they disappear way too early, leaving a whole bunch of unnecessary blank space where they could have useful information. That doesn’t make any kind of sense. Not that there’s been any response to complaints about it. (Also, that “feature” isn’t new; I haven’t been able to see my rep or badges in the bar for months.) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I'm guessing that we're still working on adjusting the breaking points but they're set on the potential max width for the user info rather than any specific user's... Some people, like mods, have extra content up there or more badges, so the space can look like it clears early, but it's just because you don't use the entire space. Here's my MSE top bar just above the breaking point: i.stack.imgur.com/rc1ww.png Imagine if I had more badges... say 4-5 digits like Jon Skeet does. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija That’s a fair point, but there’s still very-nearly-a-full-inch worth of space there that could be used—and since only a tiny minority of users have the extra stuff, and even for them using that inch of space would result only in it being “a bit crowded,” I certainly think it should be. Also, having separate breakpoints for rep and badges, while obviously less trivial than just adjusting the breakpoint, doesn’t seem like it would be very challenging here, and would also be an improvement (including in cases where you really couldn’t fit everything). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Also, cannibalizing space from the search bar, when it isn’t in use, also makes a great deal of sense. There’s a whole lot of empty space in it even after the “Search on Role-playing Games...” placeholder text, and while I get you don’t want that to vary depending on the site, I don’t think there is some site on the network whose name is more than double the length of “Role-playing Games.” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 19 '18 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Not really. When you exclude the padding and increase the width to allow for additional numbers, you're pretty much at the limits. Regardless, this is unrelated to the new layout. Feel free to bring it up on MSE if it hasn't been already. People are already complaining that the search bar is too small. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Circling back to the main point of this answer: the way the title logo overlaps with the banner as it flows made me say "Eurgh" out loud, and I doubt there are many sites where that's welcome. Plausible solution: either the logo or the banner (probably the banner) should disappear as soon as the window is smaller than the size at which they collide. Preferred solution: at that point it jumps back to its proper place on top of the banner, as seen in the old version. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Oct 7 '18 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Possible alternate solution: we rejigger the banner to include the logo as a single image to begin with and then place it appropriately (to be replaced by the logo only, if the screen gets too small.) But anyway you slice it, the sliding overlap just doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Oct 7 '18 at 23:50
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When I viewed my profile after getting a new badge, the congratulatory message box "underlapped" the links for the tabs below (see image).

This behavior doesn't happen when I'm simply tracking a badge.

enter image description here

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. This is actually a general bug and is network-wide. Not related to the theme update at all. We've got it in our sights but are still working on fixing it. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 3 '18 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should I delete this, if it's not actually related to the theme in question? \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 3 '18 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've gotten a few of these reports on different site, so feel free to leave it. It may just prevent someone else who can't see deleted answers from reposting it. ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 3 '18 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Noted. Also, when I click the cog to open the "See your next badge" popup, it displays okay when my browser is at 100%, but when it's at 120% (my normal viewing zoom) the bottom of the popup extends below the visible area and I can't even scroll to it. Is this known? If not, should I post separately or include as part of this same bug answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 3 '18 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might see if you can reproduce it on another site. Our layout doesn't generally "play nice" with zoom levels. I'm guessing that it's not related to the update, though as the profile pages haven't been updated to be responsive yet at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 3 '18 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't really use any other stacks, so I'll just have to let these comments suffice. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 3 '18 at 19:09
4
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The new header is styled to linebreak even in the middle of words. It probably shouldn't be.

Title with linebreak

However it happened it was styled with a class, "wb-break-all", that caused this behavior.

HTML inspection and CSS

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I think it was noted that not all pages have been updated for responsiveness, but this one that could use work (all screenshots on mobile):

Beta Preferences Beta Preferences

vs

Profile (email prefs looks similar) Profile

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep! The user pages are one of the ones we need to do but they're also one of the most complicated ones to make responsive because of all of the different sections. That specific tab shouldn't be too difficult, since it's a two-column layout but the profile and activity tabs are going to be a lot of work. :( \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 21 '18 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Catija Worth it in the end, I suppose, but a long road to get there :P just noticed it and wanted to make sure it didnt get left behind. \$\endgroup\$ – D. Ben Knoble Sep 21 '18 at 16:26
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The new format introduces font ambiguity of 0 (zero) vs o (lower case 'O')?
(I think it's desktop only)

Can we do something about font ambiguity of 0 (zero) vs o (lower case 'O')?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This has always been a problem with the site font since we got it as part of our custom site style. What’s new is that it also affects mobile users now, not just desktop. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 18 '18 at 1:35
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Extra-wide MathJax tables aren't constrained.

See this answer for an example. The width of the table extends into the right sidebar. Here's a screenshot.

enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ They’ve always done that, so it’s not a flaw of the transition of our custom theme to the new layout. (It’s also likely hard/impossible to fix because MathJax is dynamically laid out by the browser after the page is loaded, and how it’s done is managed by the third-party MathJax library.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 24 '18 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ From my design experience, there should be a way to force overflow content to be constrained to a scrollable region, even in this instance. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 24 '18 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ The nature of TeX layout is that it hands back fixed locations for every table element, on purpose, since it’s a layout language rather than a formatting language. (Think more like PostScript than HTML. Not exactly and there are exceptions, but they’re the exceptions rather than default.) At best MathJax could force tables to be wrapped in divs with a scoll property set, so that these fixed-width tables would be scrollable. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 24 '18 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. The following is sufficient. I'm not an expert in responsiveness, but it's definitely something that can be fixed and probably ought to be addressed as part of the process surrounding this theme update since there are several sites that will now break using MathJax without addressing it. .MathJax_Display {overflow-x: scroll;} \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 24 '18 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or the more general catch-all that handles any offending-width content, not juts MathJax: .post-text div {overflow-x: scroll;} \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 24 '18 at 23:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ (By "sites that will now break" I should have said "sites that will be broken." I know it's not a new issue or caused by the theme change. It just seems to me a good time to fix it when one CSS rule would suffice.) \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Oct 24 '18 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mentioned this problem in the main MSE discussion about the upcoming changes, it received over a hundred votes, SE devs commented on it, and then it didn’t happen. I’ve washed my hands of it; this whole fiasco has not demonstrated even an iota of competence. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 6 '18 at 20:16
1
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Unresponsive scrolling

I may be the only one, but since the update I have notice many times when viewing a question that I can only scroll a little bit at a time. For instance, Flinging my scroll wheel on my mouse produces the same result as slowly scrolling it one tick. This was not previously the case and I haven't experienced this on other SE sites.

NOTE: I don't experience this behavior when viewing the question lists, only from the question pages themselves.

System: Windows 10
Browser: Internet Explorer 11

I have not noticed this happening on Google Chrome, but I rarely use Chrome when browsing this site. I will use it more often and report back.

EDIT:

I have been using Chrome exclusively since this answer (Oct. 10 - Oct. 29). I have not seen the issue at all using Chrome.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi! Can you add some more info to your answer? I'm going to need to know system/browser information and if you're able to reproduce this on a different system/browser. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Oct 10 '18 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Details added. I will continue using Chrome for the next couple days and see if I notice the issue there. \$\endgroup\$ – Newbie12345 Oct 10 '18 at 16:05
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I'm sure things can be improved further, but I think this is definitely an improvement from the old theme. Good work. :)

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