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I checked out a few StackExchange sites this morning, and I noticed something about the StackOverflow UI. When the user goes to the homepage, there are a lot of numbers: three columns of large numbers to the left of the questions. It seems like a noisy and intimidating interface, especially on sites with a dark background (i.e. Epic Advice). It looks more like a spreadsheet than a website, basically.

The columns show the number of votes, answers, and views. I think views, in particular, can be removed; no one really cares about views, except when trying to figure out which question was responsible for the "Popular Question" badge you just got.

As for votes, I would suggest (and I realize that maybe this is more radical) that instead of showing the number, another type of visual cue is used. For example, maybe questions with > 10 votes get a larger font, and questions with negative votes are semi-transparent (like an ignored tag). This would leave only the number of answers, which is probably what a most people really care about. Or just leave votes and answers, but remove views, if you don't like that suggestion.


And because I know a screenshot with freehand circles will be requested...

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Perhaps this might be a better question for meta.stackexchange.com –  Brad Gilbert Oct 15 '09 at 19:04
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it is not specific to stackexchange –  Kip Oct 15 '09 at 19:07
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8 Answers 8

up vote 9 down vote accepted

With regards to this specific issue, I can say that one major thing that could be gotten rid of is the views number. Who cares if it has 5 views or 5 thousand?

As a minor thing, you could remove the badge counts from the right of the User name, and just have the user name and reputation. It doesn't add anything to see the badge counts; and it just clutters up the space. Maybe allow a mouse-over that contains that information if someone really wanted it to be there; same with Views.

Example:

New Look:

Old Look:

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I like the new look - much cleaner! Any chance we can get one of our local Greasemonkeys to make a script that will make SO look like that? –  Kyle Cronin Oct 16 '09 at 1:37
    
Well, there are some issues since the entire page width is based off of the center column, so it would require a redesign of the widths in use across the entire page. I wanted to photoshop it, but I've got an ASP.NET bug that requires my attention. –  George Stocker Oct 16 '09 at 1:42
    
Note: I'm not sure why it recorded the favorite tag color with one screenshot and not the other. I've been having issues the past few days where Javascript would only work intermittently on the Stack overflow site -- other users have reported the same problem. Refreshing the page fixes it, however. –  George Stocker Oct 16 '09 at 1:43
    
accepted for the mockups. thanks! –  Kip Oct 16 '09 at 17:42
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disagree completely with the views getting removed, but I kinda like removing the badges. Might implement that. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 16 '09 at 23:49
    
@Jeff Atwood, then why not do the views underneath the two boxes? Or make them a mouse-over? –  George Stocker Oct 17 '09 at 0:55
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Views represents popularity from the anonymous masses, which may or may not have anything to do with how many answers and upvotes something gets. It's staying, forever. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 18 '09 at 11:21
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You are just now noticing this? Seriously?

EDIT: I implemented the suppression of badge display on the front page. I agree that part isn't super relevant to the front page, but views absolutely is.

Views represents popularity from the anonymous masses, which may or may not have anything to do with how many answers and upvotes something gets.

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According to @Spolsky's twitter, you guys are at a bar drinking... You're working whilst drinking? This should get good. –  George Stocker Oct 16 '09 at 1:09
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i never really look at the homepage, i only bookmark the "questions" button. so when i visited some stack exchange sites it really jumped out at me –  Kip Oct 16 '09 at 12:39
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So instead of seeing some numbers (granted there are a lot of them) that are clearly labeled and plainly viewable, you want to substitute in visual cues and effects that leave you more in guess mode than anything else?

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i want it to be less noisy and intimidating. when a new visitor comes to the site, it shouldn't look like a spreadsheet. i think views should be completely removed. if they want to do the visual cues thing for votes they can, but i acknowledged that it was a more radical suggestion. –  Kip Oct 15 '09 at 19:11
    
i changed the wording a little bit, hopefully it is clearer –  Kip Oct 15 '09 at 19:14
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I am going to partially disagree with you on this one.

Numbers are much more defined and much more universal. It is a little noisy yes, but I can't imagine the front page with different sized question fonts or partially transparent ones due to votes. That would not be an obvious "feature". It would be a UI nightmare IMO.

As for removing views, I could see that happening, but I kind of like seeing what are current popular questions. I like all the information given without having to click around.

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Besides, if you are a programmer, you should be used to occasionaly running across horrible code with numbers everywhere and no comments. SO should be a visual relief of fresh air some days. –  Troggy Oct 15 '09 at 20:38
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I like it the way it is, and I'm not an accountant.

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Sometimes I am looking through the questions. Sometimes I am looking through the numbers. One thing I always admired about the Stack Overflow design is that it is visually easy to separate one from the other... without distraction.

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I dig data. I'd rather have a colorless numbered site than a colored numberless site. But that's how I roll.

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I like numbers.

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Since today is payday, I really like numbers. (so does my mortgage company) :) –  AnonJr Oct 16 '09 at 20:10
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