The new notification system at the top left hand corner of the screen is really nifty, but the colour used isn't exactly the most eye catching.

For example, when you have a traditional notification it appears red and it immediately catches your attention to know that it's there.

However, when you get a new notification the colour used is kind of an off grey and it's not immediately obvious unless you're specifically looking at it. What about maybe a more prominent green or a blue? Something that catches your eye more :).

I appreciate that this isn't exactly a super-duper critical issue, but it'd just be a nice finishing touch on the brilliant feature that is the notifications :).

  • 2
    .. at least it's not just me that's blind.
    – Matt
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


We really don't want these notifications catching your eye, certainly nothing like the notifications of new messages in your inbox, or worse, the old banner fiesta.

And the more prominent we make these general notifications, the less prominent that inbox notifications will naturally become. That's a bad thing, because these aren't actionable notifications, unlike messages in your inbox. The dichotomy of difference is something we do want to create.

I think the current light blue color shows up sufficiently well against the dark blue top bar used on many of the Stack Exchange 2.0 sites and other places throughout the network:


(The only remaining problem is that ominous red glow around the notification bubble. Also, credit for the screenshots!)

But you're right, it is pretty hard to see against the light gray top bar used on Stack Overflow and here on Meta. It wouldn't hurt to darken the blue a bit to increase the contrast (if possible).


  • 1
    Well, if they're not going to be at least a little eye catching is there any point in them being there? I agree they shouldn't be as eye catching as the traditional ones, but they should be a bit more predominant like you said :) Commented May 28, 2012 at 12:15
  • 1
    Well, we want this stuff to be available, but that doesn't mean it has to be in-your-face. Just because it isn't eye-catching doesn't mean that it shouldn't be there at all. Commented May 28, 2012 at 12:17
  • 1
    @mattytommo they're visible but not eyecatching so you can look if you want to know, but they don't distract attention. They're not supposed to distract you constantly
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 13:37
  • Although I agree that we really don't want these notifications catching your eye, there is an exception, mod messages. I'd prefer those to be extremely hard to miss...
    – yannis
    Commented May 28, 2012 at 14:07
  • @YannisRizos Don't miss this question. Commented May 28, 2012 at 14:10

The general idea of making these notifications more subtle is that they aren't as actionable as the red inbox notifications.

When another user leaves a comment, an answer to your question, or a chat message, these are items that may require follow up on your part, and sometimes a certain outcome may very well depend on how quickly you respond to that inbox message.

As an example, let's say another user leaves you a comment pointing out a massive error in an answer you just left on another question. Since the red inbox icon is attention-grabbing, your chances of responding to the comment by fixing the error in your answer may very well save you from losing precious reputation and also prevent more people from being exposed to potentially misleading or incorrect information.

Now, take notifications, for instance. These messages are for things that don't require any action on your part. The message about your Silver Enthusiast badge could sit there for days before you notice it, and no matter what, the outcome is still the same.

Sure, maybe you don't get to celebrate right away, but you'll still be just as pleased with yourself whether or not you find it sooner or later.

If you're a user on the site who posts a lot of comments, asks a lot of questions, posts a lot of answers, and participates in a lot of chats, then you most likely get lots of those red inbox alerts. If those same inbox alerts were accompanied by system notifications, then they would reduce the importance of the inbox notifications.

However, when checking an inbox notification, there's a very high likelihood of also taking notice of the system notification, but without diluting the importance of the inbox alerts.

In summary, the primary reason behind the subdued notification alerts is to reduce the amount of noise and distraction that prevent us from focusing on the things that require our attention.

With that said, could we suggest a better color? Black? A darker grey or green? Absolutely, but it shouldn't be a louder color than what's used for the inbox alerts.

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