I see many mixed views relating to the new top bar colour (the black(ish/almost)).

Personally I love it. The light text on black is easy to read as the rest of the site is bright. It also stands out as a main control area etc.

However, would it be too much trouble to design a few different style choices which users could then choose from their profile?

Obviously throwing some text and background colour options together is easy, the "new feature" in the profile would be the bulky work - how much I don't know, hence discussion and not feature request.

  • @dystroy You and I are but two people though (re-read my first sentence). I didn't suggest changing it, I suggested allowing options, to cater for the masses. I would keep the current colours, but just because I like it, and you think my proposed settings would be "useless", doesn't mean tens or hundreds of thousands of others wouldn't welcome it - hence "discussion..." ;)
    – James
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 6:46
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    BLACK is funeral color; is SO suggesting something to their users?
    – mpapec
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 6:59
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    This would be awesome but I think its good enough to just make it grey as it was before. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 7:57
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    @ArvindSridharan I agree with you. Gray is stackoverflow's style and black is linkedin like style. At least it could be good using old one as an option. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:10
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    Meh. The color clashes with most sites, but so would any other color. What I want is a color that's adjusted to the rest of the site's design. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 9:23
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    In the interim (or if this feature is never implemented), see Gallery of custom styles and/or scripts for the top-bar for ways to change the appearance of the top bar.
    – phils
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 11:28
  • I wouldn't have so much of a problem with the black top bar if there wasn't stuff on the bar that was blue. The badges, the green and red indicators show up. The stuff in blue is damn near invisible. Yes, I have an old crappy monitor, so sue me.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 19:07

3 Answers 3


If the impetus for this is purely 'nice to have', then it's probably not worth the work to reward ratio. We'd have to maintain several versions of the top bar, which puts some restrictions on future things (icons, text, links) that might go there 'someday'. We'd either have to work harder to come up with things that fit all available style selections, or deal with several versions of the same thing.

Having this functionality available to you now through the use of custom user style sheets (or downloading custom schemes that others have shared) deflates this further, if it really bothered someone purely on the ground of aesthetics, they're not without the means to do something about it.

In order for it to become something that we'd put squarely on the drawing board, usability would have to be the driving motivation. If that was the case, this ceases to be about cosmetics and more about accessibility. It goes from a preference to more of a mode in those circumstances.

I'm not saying we won't need to make exceptions for certain corner cases (I have no idea what sort of sorcery Jin has in mind for that), but they'll be few and far between. Yet, if we did implement styles as a preference, these cases would be even harder to handle.

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    Not worth a separate question, I think: About work to gain ratio, would it be possible to have background per site? I mean, dark blue (#212161) on UX and Drupal Answers would look way better, dark brown (#612100) on RPG too. And all it takes is one entry in CSS in sites that would ask.
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:12
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    @Mołot We should let this 'soak' for a while and see how folks feel after their cheese has settled into its new place. As far as cheese moves go, this one was pretty big, so we're currently just collecting feedback.
    – user50049
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:31
  • I'm in no hurry. I'll ask again in a week or two ;) But that's not that I mind change. New topbar irritates me in many ways, but to many of them I think I'll get used to so I don't even mention. But colours, I think it just looks like a bad transplant. Blue on blue site, and black bar on the top? Like if designer forgot to adjust it and it looks out of place. Like topbars "free" hosting companies force on their users. And I don't believe this will change for me. But I'm OK with waiting a bit before evaluating. For now I only wanted to know if it will be killed as "too much work" outright.
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:37
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    @Mołot I don't think that would be declined as too much work, it's not a huge technical ask. Saying no (if that were the outcome) would probably come from a more strategic and philosophical direction.
    – user50049
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:53
  • @TinyTim "maintain several versions of the top bar[..]restrictions on future things" I'm talking purely about text and background colour options. I presume back end code is separate from the styles/HTML (however you do it) so the top bar back end code remains the same always, and you can make changes however and whenever you want. The only thing you'd have to "maintain" is say 3 colour options eg: 1. How it is now; 2. White background with black text (original); 3. Grey background and dark text.
    – James
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 16:31
  • I know it's now quite as simple as that, and I also know that there are other issue from this, like people asking for colours to be changed on style 2 or 3 etc as if they're "colours for the people". Just make it clear each user style (2. and 3.) is non-negotiable and each one is a simple setup: one colour for background & one colour for text, no other styling. White BG and grey BG both allow for the other function colours fine, such as the badge colours and Stack logo in blue. Then maintain the SO official one with different sections of it having different styles and colours as you please.
    – James
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 16:50

As long as there's no usability problem, or a severe allergy to the current theme, I don't see any reason to have this setting.

Having an identical bar, easy to recognize even on screen shots, is a useful feature.

Having a focused and simple interface, with no useless and distracting settings is another one.

You say you love the bar's color. I don't (too big contrast with the page and a little grim) but I don't think it's an important matter and I don't want to lose too much time pondering colors as long as they're not terrible, so I'd really prefer SO to not have this setting until it's proven it's useful.

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    Well, I have severe allergy to how my generic intense color avatar mismatches the top bar.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 6:57
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    @sharptooth Wouldn't that severe allergy be cured by simply switching from a generic avatar to a personalized one ? I acknowledge that this cure might be made a little more difficult by the fact the avatar is rendered on so different backgrounds (on black, on light grey, on white with shadow)... Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 7:35
  • Well, here's how I see it. An avatar is not necessary for using the site and I don't want to care of the avatar. Previously this worked - the generic one looked decent. Now it looks mismatching and you say that I maybe have to craft an avatar as if I initially caused the problem.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:09
  • @dystroy I agree it can be cured the way you wrote, but I also agree that defaults should make sense. but it's a problem with avatars used, more than with topbar itself (in my not so humble opinion).
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:21
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    @Mołot I agree with you : the fact avatars don't render very well is a separate matter. In my opinion the problem is the variety of backgrounds over which they're rendered. But that's a different matter that shouldn't be solved by asking the user to tune the colors. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:27

I stand by dystroy's answer. Solid and constant colors make recognizability stronger. I would add that contrast is important. Only the gray icons could be lighter because they do not contrast with the bar enough. This requires more visual resources from the users. Maybe some accessibility check for the contrast could easy say if it is enough.

  • The tag colours are irrelevant to this question so I've removed it for now. It's answered in the FAQ question How does Meta Stack Overflow work?. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 7:40
  • I think they seem more important than the regular non-bordered tags as they look more important because of the border accent. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 7:43
  • They are more important Anton! See the link. Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 8:01

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