A few weeks ago my friend asked a question on Physics.SE. Later on, I saw him browsing the site, and noticed that he had an unread inbox notification. I pointed it out, and he said "Oh, that's an inbox notification?" (or something to that effect) He basically hadn't noticed it.

I didn't think much of this at the time, as sometime people miss stuff.

Then, today, I saw a different friend of mine on SuperUser, and he hadn't noticed the red inbox light either (or thought that it wasn't of much consequence)

While the inbox is obvious to me, it may just be because I'm used to it. And this may be the reason behind a small percentage of drive-by question askers as well; they don't realize that their post needs improving.

Keeping in line with all the other new-user UX changes that are being pushed, could we add some sort of callout the first time a new user gets an inbox notification? Something like

enter image description here

Not sure if this really is a problem, though. A rather simple and interesting test would be to count the percentage of users who visit a page on SE (a page that is not an answer/section link -- it is easy to miss the inbox in these cases), have an inbox notification, but don't open it.

Regarding putting it somewhere in the faq or new /about: People are less inclined to read long pages like the faq and about, even if they are full of pictures and animations (though the pictures and animations certainly help a lot). The best way to teach new users, IMO, is by giving them information a spoonful at a time, when necessary. I think almost everyone would read the red callout. Not so much on the new about page -- it's still a lot of information at once.

  • 3
    You seem to be looking at your friends' screens' a bit too much :P
    – asheeshr
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 8:09
  • @AshRj: I expected the first comment to be "get new friends" :P I live in a hostel, so many a time I drop by at a friend's room when they are on the comp. So I just plonk down beside them, standard protocol :) Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 8:11
  • We already teach them in faq. However most users don't read faq or each section of faq. So this feature may help them.
    – Himanshu
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 8:15
  • @hims056: yep, edited Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


This may no longer be necessary. The contrast of the red indicator with the black topbar is pretty good now.

Folks looking over my shoulder are able to immediately notice that I have some notifications.

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