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I use the Inbox a lot and think that it is such a major feature that it should have its own place in the top right of the screen (between [username] and chat?) This would have the advantage of being able to access the Inbox with one click.

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I sure am glad I saw this question. I noticed I wasn't seeing that "you've got mail!" icon anymore beside my name, but didn't realize a better version of it was available elsewhere on the screen. Didn't know to look, to be honest. –  Anthony Pegram Apr 21 '11 at 21:20
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1 Answer

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No! The inbox is an often-used feature, so it should have an easy-to-reach position, i.e. a corner. (See Fitts's law.) The middle of the screen is for less useful things.

The top left corner is easier to access than the others, for several reasons, not least that not everyone has a big enough window to fit SE's very wide layout. People with smaller screens will have the right-hand part of the screen obscured.

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I don't think Fitts's Law applies to most web UIs, at least not in the sense that "corners are infinitely large" sense. The corner is usually a sweet spot when it is located at the physical corner of the monitor, which it isn't in most web UIs. –  Daniel DiPaolo Apr 21 '11 at 21:11
    
@Daniel: The corner still has a better chance of being easy to hit, and also, importantly, it's a lot easier to spot visually. A right-hand location may require to scroll from the initial view, and a middle location gets lost in the noise. Also, for 10k and mods, there are colored numbers around that place already (flag and edit counts), and these deserve second fiddle to personal replies. –  Gilles Apr 21 '11 at 21:15
    
I question whether smaller screens would have the right hand part of the screen obscured. The header fits perfectly in 1024 pixel width and at 800 pixels the left part of the SE Logo is clipped and the right hand part of the search box is clipped. So putting the Inbox by the Username would display without issue. In any case according to W3Schools only 1.1% of users are running at 800 pixel or less width. –  Matt Wilko Apr 27 '11 at 15:04
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