A.k.a. the 2015 Questions to Answer Refactoring Konversion (QuARK)
A.k.a. the great cheese move of 2015.
TL:DR; we are looking to change the navigation of the question lists on the site. We are not looking to remove any functionality or break any existing link. This is not final. We’re taking a very iterative approach and need you to help us.
The full details.
There are around 20 different question lists on the site. They are grouped together on pages based on vague similarity, but the navigation is fairly flat.
We measured how people use these tabs to answer in real world scenarios and we found out that:
- There’s no correlation between how easy it is to navigate to a specific question list and how much it is used
- There is a very definite learning curve between users of different rep levels
- Some combinations of filters and sorts are egregiously missing
We want to add new features and the current UI is not tenable anymore. Adding “even moar awesome” will make it even more confusing!
We have a working design and we will implement it, but it will be visible only to a few thousand volunteers. This is opt-in via a new “alpha channel” option (and people can opt-out any time they want). After the initial implementation we will iterate the design with the volunteers. As soon as we think we can share this to the wider community we will enable it for all (probably on meta.se first as usual).
We have a clickable mock up prototype here!
There will be only 3 tabs
- Stuff to read
- Active and recommended posts (for e.g. moderation, answering)
- Stuff that needs answers
These tabs will feature
- a tag filter element to restrict lists to any tag (or favorite tags, etc.)
- a “show” sub menu (with linky items) to choose a filter (e.g. unanswered questions)
- a “sort” submenu (with linky items)
- an “advanced” menu with linky options such as whether to display excerpts
We plan to respect all existing links, they will naturally go to the correct tab/sub menu combinations
We will remove the “Unanswered” button and make the home page part of “Questions”. They will all go to the same, unique page anyways.
Q: Why those tabs?
A: Because they largely correspond to the three main use cases of question lists: finding questions to answer, read or moderate. We want to make it easy for inexperienced users to find the right place to either read, answer or moderate.
Q: Why merge home & questions?
A: Because the simplest, expected behavior for a section called “Questions” is that it contains ...questions. The home page contains only lists of questions, so it belongs there.
Q: Why get rid of unanswered?
A: Because of multiple reasons. It doesn't make logical sense with the other top navs: The “Questions” section contains questions, “Tags” contains tags, “Users” contains users and …”Unanswered” contains questions again? We have ideas of other top navs to add in that menu quite soon. This creates some much needed space for them.
Q: What happened to excerpts and why?
A: Excerpts are still there. To turn them on and off you can use the gear menu or click on any link that currently sends you to a page with excerpts. We reserve to expand that menu with more features (just not in this first iteration!).
Q: Where is <insert favorite tab here> gone?
A: All currently available tabs are mapped to a combination of tab and sub menu elements in the new UI. Nothing is lost. We counted the clicks and most combinations are reachable with the same number of actions as today. In fact, the new tab combinations will be a superset of the current question lists.
Q: What happened to the "All Newest Questions" tab?
A: Nothing. Currently to reach it you click "Questions" and then choose the "Newest tab", unless that was your last choice, which we remember. In the future, you will click "Questions" and then choose the "Newest sort", unless that would have been your last choice, which we will have remembered.
Q: What is the "Show Recommended" sub menu?
A: it's the same as the current "Interesting" tab on Stack Overflow. It will only exist on Stack Overflow. All the other sites will not have that "show" sub menu in that tab.
Are we improving something you care about? Is this iterative approach something you’d be interested in experimenting with us? Are there any major flaws in our “iteration one” plan?
We will soon open sign ups for the "alpha channel". Stay tuned.