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Took a few seconds to find how to get back to chat on SO. I quickly found that it was hiding inside the StackExchange drop down along with Blog and Log out. Having these links inside the "site switcher" seems a tad out of place and calls for concern personally.

Any ideas for an alternative to these objects location?

  • I'm not sure we should clutter the bar with icons. Next thing people want a careers icon too. And a meta icon. Etc. – Martijn Pieters Dec 4 '13 at 20:14
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    but if I'm on StackOverflow, and I'm interested in the StackOverflow chat, how does a tab called StackExchange make logical sense to look in there for a SO feature? At that point, we mine as well hide help inside the SE tab if we are complaining about too many objects on the top-bar. – John Riselvato Dec 4 '13 at 20:16
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    While we are definitely open to feedback, try using the new design for a little. The Stack Exchange dropdown is a site switcher that contains navigation within all things Stack Overflow (main, meta, chat, Careers) as well as within all things Stack Exchange (switching to another SE site). I think the new version makes a lot of sense, but it takes a little getting used to. – Laura Dec 4 '13 at 20:20
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    @JohnRiselvato I don't actually care where the chat link is as long as I can access it easily, however you make a very good point that most people wouldn't think to click on a StackExchange link to find a SO-specific item. Perhaps the name if this dropdown should be re-examined? There are other items in there that are specific to the site you're on instead of generic to StackExchange, such as the meta link, which took me a bit to find for the same reason. – Rachel Dec 4 '13 at 20:20
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    Maybe moving the chat link onto the bar isn't the best idea. My concern is the SE tab wouldn't be my first thought to completing certain tasks (including logging out). As a site switcher I understand why one would click the SE tab. Obviously with a few seconds of sitting around using the bar you understand where things are quickly. but for a new user, it doesn't exactly call for automatic intuitive understanding. – John Riselvato Dec 4 '13 at 20:24
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    What is this "logging out" everyone keeps mentioning? – gnostradamus Dec 4 '13 at 20:44
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    Seriously, logging out is not a primary task. The number customer service request these days are from people forgetting passwords. It's a feature used sometimes, so why should it be given "every time" placement? Same thing with Chat or Blog. Those are "occasionally-I-click-on-these-links" areas. Most people want to see rep changes, inbox and an easier way to move between SE communities. – Hynes Dec 4 '13 at 20:57
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    @Hynes I think you seriously underestimate the number of people who log out. It might not spawn a customer service request, but I would argue that it is a primary task. Logging out is also considered a best practice from a security point of view. You and I might not ever log out because we visit so often, but don't conflate your own behavior with that of the average user based on perception alone. I think we'd need some data to back up the presumption either way. – Chris Dec 4 '13 at 22:41
  • @Chris, Are you saying that a primary task you are engaging in as a logged-in user at Stack Overflow is logging out? Also, how is having logging out one click versus two clicks away a security risk? – Hynes Dec 5 '13 at 3:49
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    @Hynes There is another question specific to the logout link, which I've answered with more detail. It isn't a security risk to have the logout button in a weird place, per se; I think you're deliberately misrepresenting my statement. It is recommended that you log out of sites, and if the user can't find the logout button because it is in an illogical place, then they don't log out. As I illustrate in my answer, logging out is treated as a primary task, or is at least highly proximate to other user account navigation. Anyway, here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/210002 – Chris Dec 5 '13 at 3:53
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    @Chris I started writing a response and it turned into the answer below. I am not deliberately misrepresenting your statement. I'm asking clarify questions. I have no reason to be sarcastic or misrepresent what you're saying. – Hynes Dec 5 '13 at 4:57
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    @Hynes Poor word choice on my part, I meant to say that you were reducing my statement to a simplification that isn't relevant. I understand that you were simply playing "devil's advocate". Thanks for your comments in the answer -- I for one like the new bar and only take issue with the one minor thing. I've made my case over at the other question, I'm not that passionate about it even so. Thanks again! – Chris Dec 5 '13 at 5:16
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    The link to chat and meta of the local site should be in the top bar for easier access, the same goes by the loggin link. On Meta, the links to Main and chat should be in the top bar too. I see no point in hiding them behind the SE menu, because they have nothing to do with switching the site inside the SE network. – Dilaton Dec 5 '13 at 21:30
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I started writing this as a comment to @Chris in the above question, but I felt it would be better as an answer.

Some initial comments

  • Nothing you're seeing in that top bar was just thrown in. This design wasn't thrown together in a weekend. It wasn't haphazardly cobbled together. It was talked about and researched. The team looked at traffic, data, heatmaps and so on. The team that worked on this did it with great care. If you have a problem with a decision they made, that's fine. Voice it. Just do it professionally.
  • Remember this is the first step and more steps will happen. At some point though you have to make the jump, learn and grow.
  • The top-bar's purpose is to be a quick overview of what's happening to you on Stack Exchange and the community you are currently on. It isn't suppose to do everything.

Now onto some specific items:

The Log Out Link

Problem: I don't like the log out link being in the Site Switcher.

In the mobile-first world we live in now, space is becoming tighter and tighter. In the previous top-bar, we were burying better content about the user's community and network involvement for a link used sometimes. It is important to provide easy access to a log out for users, but it doesn't have to demand primary position in a website utility bar.

If your argument is that the current location of the log-out link seems a bit unintuitive, then I agree with you. I wasn't personally involved with this project. I know the team that was and I know they worked hard on it. Yet I do agree that with the suggestion in this thread that log-out functionality typically is associated with the user and not within a Site Switcher. Stack Overflow is a bit of a different use case because of it's relationship to other Stack Exchange communities, but it's still a valid point.

I don't think it should hold a primary position within a utility bar, but I also don't think it should be buried within a user setting page or placed in an unintuitive place. Moving the link one click away in a logical place is a fine solution .

Chat & Blog Links

Problem: I didn't think to look under the Stack Exchange logo for the Stack Overflow blog and chat links.

Yes, I would agree that the blog link here doesn't make a ton of sense, but I would also say that having a blog link in a utility bar makes less sense. This bar is about the user and their activity. The blog is about Stack Exchange and what it's doing. You might be interested in the blog, but it's not directly about you. So, again, why should that have primary placement in the bar?

The problem with its current placement is that I mentally make the association that the "blog" link next to Stack Overflow (or any community name) will take me to a specific community blog. It just takes me to the Stack Exchange blog no matter what community I'm on. That's a miss.

I would suggest removing the Blog link from next to the respective SE community. If you want to visit the SE blog, you could click on the right-sidebar Bulletin announcement area or go to the footer for it. Again, it's not a primary action. It's content about Stack Exchange from the team that they want to share. It's not about your activity as a user. Another solution would be to maintain a place for it in the Site Switcher, but have it associated more with the Stack Exchange website. Where and how this would be done would have to be explored.

The Chat links make a lot of sense being where they are now in my opinion. For those people who want to more actively engage, it's a great place to go. A lot of people though just want to come ask, answer or read questions.

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    I'm pretty much with you on the UI for reasonably experienced users - as much as people like to complain, I suspect they'll learn to deal with an extra click to get to chat - but do you think the tucked-away chat link is reasonably discoverable for newer users? – Cascabel Dec 5 '13 at 7:44
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    @Hynes re: the blog link, we have sites that run their own community blogs (example). On those sites the blog link in the site switcher goes to that blog, not to the company SE blog. – Adam Lear Dec 5 '13 at 19:59
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    @AnnaLear Fair enough. I would say in those situations, keep a blog link next to the community name like it currently is. You are establishing a presenting a confusing mental model though by having the link go to one type of area (a community blog) sometimes and then going to another type of area (SE general blog) other times without anything denoting when those instances are. – Hynes Dec 5 '13 at 20:12
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    @Hynes I think this would be a bit cleaner if MSO wasn't both the site meta and the network meta. It's a bit of a stretch, but I can see the argument for the company blog being effectively the community blog for a network-wide meta. – Adam Lear Dec 5 '13 at 20:14
  • @AnnaLear Eh, maybe. It's still confusing because I don't know what I'm going to get. At least let me know why I'm on the SE network blog versus a community blog (one isn't set up yet, not allowed yet, etc). And then present options to the user to either continue to the SE blog or maybe let them know what it will take in order for a community they enjoy to get their own blog. Also, StackOverflow doesn't have it's own blog? – Hynes Dec 5 '13 at 20:21
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    Yeah, I definitely see your point. Stack Overflow doesn't have a blog although folks have asked to set one up before (somewhere here on meta). – Adam Lear Dec 5 '13 at 20:29
  • @Hynes Agreed on the blog point. We may be adding a stack exchange box to the site switcher that would fix these inconsistencies, mostly because it looks like the stack exchange network is going to get a separate meta. The way the site switcher is currently structured there would be no where to put that link. – Jeremy T Dec 20 '13 at 16:41

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