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UPDATE: TeamDAG has reviewed all of the feedback below and updated with status. We are actively working on fixes as time allows. Thanks to everyone who contributed constructive feedback.

We released the new top bar for all users across all communities. The only exceptions are Area 51 and chat. They will be coming a little later.

I wanted to take this opportunity to respond to some of the key pieces of feedback we received after the initial post about the top bar coming to the network. I'll try to summarize these feedback points below, say whether we are/aren't addressing each, and give you a short explanation why or why not.

Consistency between SO and SE network sites

Concern: Navigation links (questions, tags, users, etc.) are not folded into the top bar on SE network sites. The color of the top bar is different.

Status:

Explanation:
Navigation - In order to integrate navigation (as it is on SO) we would need to revisit each of the site themes and we don't have the resources for that now. We may revisit this in the future. But this would likely require reducing the level of theming that we support. The team believes that the current compromise results in a coherent design that users can understand, even if it isn't completely consistent.

Color - The top bar needs to be black on network sites, since that works best with the many themes. The SO top bar color was a branding decision and won't be changed to black.

Review queue icon sucks

Concern: The review queue icon doesn't look anything like what I'd expect. It isn't recognizable. (note: this is actually a holdover from SO feedback).

Status:

Explanation: We are happy to change this icon to one that works better for everyone. We ran a survey for people to pick their top two favorite icons. Over 600 people participated. We are doing some additional design review on the top two candidates and will announce the results soon.

Review queue false positives

Concern: The review queue shouldn't "light up" or have the red dot when there are no items to review.

Status:

Explanation: We've squashed some bugs with the new design, but probably have a few more to deal with. We will continue on our bug stomping journey.

Add labels to icons

Concern: Still, the icons aren't as recognizable as they should be. But if you add labels below them they would be. Please add labels.

Status:

Explanation: There is no room for legible labels in the current design. The font would have to be so small that it is arguable if it would help many people. (The example posted to meta cheated a bit by changing "achievements" to the much shorter "awards".)

Stickiness global preference

Concern: SO top bar is sticky by default with a preference to unstick it. Network site top bar is not sticky by default and there is no way to make it so. Can we get a global preference for setting stickiness across all sites?

Status:

Explanation: We think this is a good thing to have, now we just need to figure out how to make it so. This could be a somewhat expensive setting since we currently don't have any global settings. That said, we are actively investigating it.

Moderator tools are difficult to see/access

Concern: Inserting the mod tools to the far right (after the site switcher) creates confusion and make them difficult to see/interact with. Move them.

Status:

Explanation: We have moved these items to the left of the profile. This has the benefit of keeping the site switcher in the same location at all times. The new location for these tools has higher visibility. Also, we are going to continue investigating additional improvements for moderators.

Search transition is confusing

Concern: When a user clicks into the search box it animates to expand. Stop it! It's annoying.

Status:

Explanation: This was needed on Stack Overflow where the search box can get very small due to space constraints. It isn't necessary on other sites and has been turned off.

Clickable Stack Exchange logo

Concern: The Stack Exchange logo is useless. Clicking on it should trigger the site switcher (see below) or it should lead to stackexchange.com.

Status:

Explanation: This has been fixed. Clicking on the Stack Exchange logo will display a brief popup about the Stack Exchange network, and a link to stackexchange.com.

Site switcher

Concern: Moving the site switcher from the left to the right is confusing. Move it back.

Status:

Explanation: We know that this will take some getting use to, but based on previous experience with changes like this we are confident that everyone can make this adjustment.

Inaccessible color choices

Concern: Some designs choices are inaccessible for people with low vision or color blindness (specifically the green achievements icon for people with deuteranopia).

Status:

Explanation: We are undergoing a general evaluation of our accessibility and will fix issues as a part of that process.

Where do we go from here

There are a number of other fixes that we made to address more minor issues or bugs in the top bar. So this list isn't exhaustive, but covers the biggest issues. Obviously there are some items that are still under work. We will continue working on them and listening for additional feedback on the new top bar.

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    somewhat related: If stickiness becomes a global setting (or an optionally global?) can we also move some other settings into global scope like keyboard shortcuts? – Vogel612's Shadow Oct 9 '17 at 22:25
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    What about putting the site logo and shortened site name in the topbar? – J F Oct 10 '17 at 0:01
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    It works well. Why bother changing it? Please put an option of reverting to the older version so that old dogs like me are happy. – NotAgain Oct 10 '17 at 0:19
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    By the looks of it, you've either missed or rejected my suggestion to shrink the search bar a little. Can this please be fixed? It's a glaring issue, especially due to the tiny SE logo right next to it. – angussidney Oct 10 '17 at 5:54
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    Thanks for posting the survey about the icon. There doesn't seem to be a way to specify "I only think one of these is a good choice, and want to abstain on a second vote", so I haven't completed it. – Josh Caswell Oct 10 '17 at 12:32
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    "SO top bar color was a branding decision" so the marketing department is now in charge of UX. Fine, I give up, I'll resort to userscripts to work around whatever they come up with. But reading stuff like that makes me cynical. – Stijn Oct 10 '17 at 13:54
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    As a mod please please do not make the review icon a flag button. – David Oct 10 '17 at 14:35
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    I hate this so much. I've clicked the left top icon a dozen times today. – Organic Marble Oct 10 '17 at 16:41
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    Could you comment on un-bolding the rep number? It's trivial to implement and mane people appear to agree it would be much less distracting. – Kevin Oct 10 '17 at 19:00
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    Also, please don't bury the review icon survey in a random place in a Meta post somewhere and only have it up "for a day or two". Make an announcement for the whole network, and tell them exactly how long it will remain open for. – TylerH Oct 10 '17 at 19:10
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    Personally, I don't see how losing the count of items awaiting review is helpful. To be perfectly clear it's a detriment. – Elder Geek Oct 11 '17 at 17:38
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    Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!! I don't like the new top bar!!!!!!!!!!!! – John Militer Oct 12 '17 at 5:08
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    About the position of site switcher, you say: "We know that this will take some getting use to, but based on previous experience with changes like this we are confident that everyone can make this adjustment": No, this adjustment is annoying also because in the Android app the site switcher is on the left, and one should continuously switch between the two positions. – Massimo Ortolano Oct 12 '17 at 6:07
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    @Bálint: That would be confusing; a magnifying glass is widely recognized as a symbol for search. As other comments on this page say, icons are really inferior to text labels in general, and I wonder if the minor save in space from using icons rather than text labels is really necessary now that the Stack Overflow top bar doesn't need to squeeze in a link to documentation. – sumelic Oct 12 '17 at 16:43
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    "There is no room for legible labels in the current design." One could just change the current design to make room for legible labels. – Trilarion Oct 19 '17 at 7:28

40 Answers 40

311

- we implementd a content bubble that explains the network and a links to the SE.com front page. Something like Robotnik's idea.

I don't think linking the Stack Exchange logo in the top left to the stackexchange.com site is an improvement, it's worse than the old inactive version.

For a new user that has never seen the old site, the expectation for clicking on the site logo would likely be that it takes them to the homepage itself. This is not the case here, it takes them to an entirely different site they never saw before.

The SE network is complicated, but that complication is not something we should inflict on just anyone careless enough to click on the logo in the top left.

For established users, muscle memory alone will mean lots of users clicking on that icon expecting to open the site switcher. Changing the behavior of a UI element that existed for years at that specific place, and really looks the same is incredibly confusing. Making that UI element do nothing at all is terrible UX, but making it do something that is the wrong thing most of the time is even worse.

With the rate of updates stackexchange.com receives, I don't have the impression that SE cares all that much about it. So why would you want to lead a large number of users to a site that isn't all that useful to most users, and is not really maintained well anyway?

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    Yes, I hate that it doesn't become the site switcher...=( – heather Oct 10 '17 at 0:19
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    Could we at least have a tool tip telling what we get when we click the logo? That would alleviate the problem to some extent. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 10 '17 at 7:57
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    Hmm... Is the linked page stackexchange.com even useful to users? Do people want to go there so often that it warrants such a visible link? (I don't know. This is a genuine question.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 10 '17 at 8:01
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    @JoonasIlmavirta Tag filters are a pretty useful, if a bit neglected feature for users that are active on many different SE sites. I'm not sure how many people except me actually use them though. – Mad Scientist Oct 10 '17 at 9:50
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    The confusing part for me is that the stackexchange nav bar still has the site switcher on the right, er, left, and the logo is identical to the version used on the new nav bar. Its now a waste of space with no real function except subverting the expectations of the users who click on it expecting a site switcher from years of muscle memory. They could have at least changed the logo, too. – battery.cord Oct 10 '17 at 14:52
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    @JoonasIlmavirta From a network perspective it makes sense for the Stack Exchange logo to link to a central page from which you can view an overview of the networked sites. – called2voyage Oct 10 '17 at 15:06
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    I really hate the stackexchange button (even if I've only seen it for a few minutes)! – mrf Oct 10 '17 at 15:34
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    I actually strongly disagree - that Stack Exchange says "Stack Exchange". I would expect it to go to stackexchange.com. I do not believe clicking on it and expecting to go to, say, worldbuilding.stackexchange.com, is intuitive at all. I think the primary issue people have with it is that it's not the site switcher anymore (yet looks exactly the same), not that the link goes to exactly where it says it will go. – Ajean Oct 10 '17 at 19:04
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    You know what's extra confusing? That same logo in the same place at the stackexchange.com homepage is the site switcher. – Draco18s Oct 11 '17 at 3:29
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    To be clear, for @JoeFriend: this is not merely a matter of change avoidance, getting confused or muscle memory. It's a matter of having a big important element do nothing or something frankly irrelevant, and having a new element, confusingly similar to the big element, do something I use all the time. Why give so much priority going to a frankly irrelevant site where the site switcher is way more important to navigate the network? The UX seems wrong (and since it's UX, it is therefore wrong). – Sklivvz Oct 11 '17 at 8:00
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    This proposal solves the problems raised in this answer while preserving SE's intent to do something (other than the site switcher) with that space. – Monica Cellio Oct 11 '17 at 13:12
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    @Ajean That is a fair point. But in that case I think they should change stackexchange.com to something else entirely. It doesn't make sense to me that the logo links to a page of the top posts across the network. They should move the top posts to a different page like stackexchange.com/hot-network-questions – Kodos Johnson Oct 11 '17 at 18:12
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    @KodosJohnson I can agree with that! The content of stackexchange.com does leave something do be desired... – Ajean Oct 11 '17 at 20:35
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    @Draco18s What's even more confusing is that (a simplified version of) the same logo in the same place is the site switcher on the mobile sites. – Emil Jeřábek Oct 12 '17 at 11:16
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    Is it wrong of me that my use case in changing stack is now to click the "Stack Exchange" logo to get to the main site, then click it again to get the site switcher because the main site doesn't have the new toolbar... – Tom Carpenter Oct 14 '17 at 11:09
130

Consistency between SO and SE network sites

In order to integrate navigation (as it is on SO) we would need to revisit each of the site themes and we don't have the resources for that now.

So align SO with the rest of the network!

Review queue icon sucks

We are happy to change this icon to one that works better for everyone.

I took your survey, but it's missing an option for “they all suck”. I picked the ones that sucked marginally less (at least, it shows that you're capable on improving on the current icon), but I have a better proposal:

review icon proposal

I'm fairly confident that most people will figure out what that button does pretty quickly.

Review queue false positives

The review queue shouldn't "light up" or have the red dot when there are no items to review. (…) We've squashed some bugs with the new design

This is not a design problem. We've had long discussions of how to improve the review counts. Why has the only response from SE been to remove numbers and expound on how it's infeasible to get the information to be correct all of the time, rather than explore solutions to make the information correct most of the time?

Add labels to icons

There is no room for legible labels in the current design.

You could remove the icons that don't look anything like what they do (the square bra, the scratch pad, the speech bubble). That would save room.

Search transition is confusing

This was needed on Stack Overflow

No, it isn't. Just give SO the same top bar as the rest of the network. Problem solved.

Clickable Stack Exchange logo

The Stack Exchange logo is useless. (…) Clicking on the Stack Exchange logo will open stackexchange.com in a new tab.

So instead of doing nothing, it does something nobody uses? What's the point?

Site switcher

we are confident that everyone can make this adjustment

Sure. But why change in the first place? Are you going to flip every couple of years?

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    "I took your survey, but it's missing an option for “they all suck”" - I thought this sounded pretty harsh, but having looked at the survey, I have to admit you're right. (A flag icon for review? Seriously?! How confusing is that going to be, since flags and reviews are almost completely separate parts of the SE system?) – Rand al'Thor Oct 9 '17 at 22:25
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    @Randal'Thor To be honest, we didn't think the flag was right. But hey, icons are hard and we've been wrong before. – Joe Friend Oct 9 '17 at 22:33
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    "So instead of doing nothing, it does something nobody uses" As I see it wasn't doing anything due to fixed bug, but it's now doing opening stackexchange site. The meaning of this action is indeed quite disputed – Mr Zak Oct 9 '17 at 22:33
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    I agree with "why change [the site switcher] in the first place?". It was there, we figured it out, it's not functionally like anything else on the right (which is all notifications), there's still a thing where it was and there's been back and forth about what it should even do -- it should do site switching. – doppelgreener Oct 10 '17 at 10:35
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    Funny, the flag was the only one of the six that I thought made any sense at all. Although the main point in its favor is that its shape is clearly distinguishable from the other icons. – Josh Caswell Oct 10 '17 at 12:42
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    "explore solutions to make the information correct most of the time?" ←Yes. Yes. Yes. So much yes. – E.P. Oct 10 '17 at 13:15
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    In what way are "flags and reviews ... almost completely separate parts of the SE system"? The primary way that a post gets into the review queues is in response to a flag. Are there other types of flags? Yes, but only moderators need to concern themselves with that. It doesn't dilute the powerfulness of the metaphor for regular users. Not to mention what Josh Caswell said, about that being the only distinctive icon that doesn't have three horizontal lines. @rand – Cody Gray Oct 10 '17 at 14:47
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    @CodyGray “The primary way that a post gets into the review queues is in response to a flag” Not really. Suggested edits, first posts and reopen are never fueled by flags. Plus a flag icon looks like this is about raising flags, not about handling flags, because this is what the flag icon means everywhere else on the site (and on all the sites I can remember where I've seen a similar icon, except the ones where it's about language and locale preferences). – Gilles Oct 10 '17 at 15:13
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    ^ Like @Gilles summarises it's definitely a UX problem to have an icon that means two things (or two nearly identical icons that mean two different things). The flag icon is used to raise flags, so I'd expect a flag button to be something I use to make reports — it's how I view those buttons on any other site I use, so I expect it'd be how people not expert at this site (like those of us talking here) would see such a button. – doppelgreener Oct 10 '17 at 20:49
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    Hmm. I've never seen a flag icon on any other site, and I don't know where else Stack Overflow uses a flag icon like that, other than on comments. I'm not seeing the confusion. I understand the concern that it is about handling flags, not raising flags. On the other hand, it's not about clipboards, or checkmarks, or horizontal lines, either. They're all metaphors, and they're all imperfect. If you keep reducing the metaphor, you just make it less distinctive and less mnemonic. I instantly recognized the flag icon as relating to flagged posts. Huge improvement over the other choices. – Cody Gray Oct 11 '17 at 2:40
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    I agree with the sentiment that the flag is a wrong choice, but the other options were objectively worse. The pen writing wordlines (inside a speech bubble) does not look like "review" to me (or anyone) and FOUR of the survey options were variations on that theme. FOUR. – Draco18s Oct 11 '17 at 3:39
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    @Gilles I made the comment before finding the reference David posted (although I did attempt to go look at the designs first). Yes, only one has a pen, but all four have "wordlines in a speechbubble" (except 1, where it's a clipboard and 3, which lacks it). None of which say "review" to me. – Draco18s Oct 11 '17 at 15:17
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    I have poor vision and a lot of trouble with low contrast GUI elements. The dark gray on black icons such a the review queue icon are nearly invisible to me. When the new top bar came up on Mathematica.SE this week, for several minutes I thought the site had malfunctioned and that I was locked out of the revue queue. I also don't like the dark gray icons because they give the impression that they are disabled (i.e., grayed out). I request the gray be considerably lightened -- all the way to white would be good. – m_goldberg Oct 12 '17 at 0:46
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    +1 especially for "No, it isn't. Just give SO the same top bar as the rest of the network. Problem solved." That reason given for the top bar makes no sense. You have an average feature and a mediocre feature, you want to keep one feature, so you should replace the mediocre feature with the average feature, not the other way round. Of course, assuming you cannot improve the average feature. – Masked Man Oct 12 '17 at 8:43
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+200

I don't like many of the things about the new top-navigation. Thus, I wrote a userscript which allows you to adjust the top-navigation to the way that you want it.

The user script is: Top-navigation choices.

You can set preferences for how you want the new top-navigation to look. It works on all sites with the new navigation. There's:

  • Move drop-down buttons (left, right, center)
  • Adjust height
  • Global sticky/not sticky top-nav
  • Add a dark theme (top-nav) for SO/MSO
  • Merge the site-switcher with the logo
  • and more.

Everything's optional. You can have the top-nav look the way you want.

By default, on MSE it looks like:

Default is this

Drop-down menu buttons can be centered:

Centered drop-down buttons and light theme

Here are the options in action:

Various options settings

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    @Cœur, The option to add labels to the drop-down menu icons will be in the next version of the script. – Makyen Oct 12 '17 at 2:54
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    So so so so so glad I found this. +100 – NVZ Oct 13 '17 at 18:07
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    A review counter would be really nice to have! – Elder Geek Oct 14 '17 at 14:25
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    @ElderGeek, I'm going to need a bit more detail as to what you're requesting. From what you stated, I assume you mean a number badge on the review icon indicating the number of reviews which are currently in (some?, all?) queues. Is that correct? While something like that would be possible, there's no direct way to access that information from the SE API (to the best of my knowledge). Thus, a hack of some sort would be necessary to obtain the information (various possibilities). – Makyen Oct 14 '17 at 19:05
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    I can live with the minor cosmetic changes. What I wasn't having was the arbitrary rearranging of the locations and uses of the buttons. This puts them back where they were, and do what they did. Thank you. – Mazura Oct 14 '17 at 19:12
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    @Mazura What I'm looking for is what we used to have, which if I'm not mistaken was the count awaiting review in the review queue with the highest number posts awaiting review. (This has always been the close vote queue in my experience). Thank you for your consideration. – Elder Geek Oct 15 '17 at 13:49
  • Dec 14 update for Greasemonkey broke the script? (running XP) – Mazura Dec 16 '17 at 2:08
83

Thank you very much for this followup. I know you have a near-thankless job, so here's some thanks to offset that.

On "Clickable Stack Exchange logo", you wrote:

Explanation: This has been fixed. Clicking on the Stack Exchange logo will open stackexchange.com in a new tab.

All of that sounds fine except the last four words. Opening the link in a new tab is inconsistent with almost everything else on SE. (We don't even open Hot Network Questions in a new tab, and that's about as "not this current site" as you can get.) A new tab for the logo is therefore surprising and ends up being pretty disruptive. I wrote more about this in this late answer to the earlier announcement (sorry, didn't know this update was coming or I'd've waited).

Please open the link in the current tab. It's what users expect on SE. People who want a new tab have an easy way to get one; people who don't have no easy way to avoid getting one.

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    Agreed! The fact that they ended up making it open in a new tab is actually a sign that the target address is something a user will likely not expect, so linking to SE is probably the wrong choice anyway (as per Mad Scientists’s answer) – poke Oct 10 '17 at 7:09
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    Looks like this has been changed; clicking the StackExchange logo in the new top bar opens stackexchange.com in the current tab as of present. – a CVn Oct 10 '17 at 12:10
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    We made this change last night, and are considering removing the link and the rest of Mad Scientist's answer above :) – Kasra Rahjerdi Oct 10 '17 at 14:49
  • Thanks @Kasra! I'll mark this status-completed. – Monica Cellio Oct 10 '17 at 14:51
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    @KasraRahjerdi If you'll take my opinion, I think most of the backlash to it linking to stackexchange.com is not really an issue with the link as much as it is a knee-jerk reaction from people missing the site switcher in that location. Of course, I'm biased because I'm the one who suggested to link it to stackexchange.com in the first place. – called2voyage Oct 10 '17 at 15:07
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    @KasraRahjerdi: I agree with called2voyage; note that the first comment below Mad Scientist's answer, with 17 upvotes, is "Yes, I hate that it doesn't become the site switcher...=(" rather than something like "Yes, I hate going to stackexchange.com" – sumelic Oct 10 '17 at 16:58
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    No, please don't naviagte to anywhere in any tab. Open the site switcher. – Andrew Leach Oct 11 '17 at 15:16
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    @AndrewLeach I think that battle is lost. Now I'm trying to contain collateral damage. – Monica Cellio Oct 11 '17 at 15:26
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    In that case, have it not do anything. If it needs to be there at all. I'd far rather it doesn't do anything than it does something which I positively don't want (like go the HNQ list -- what use is that?). – Andrew Leach Oct 11 '17 at 17:04
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    @AndrewLeach: in the long term, how is it better for it to do nothing? I get that it's confusing in the short term for it to do something you're not expecting, but I like having a link to the SE site. Aside from the HNQ list, there's the network-wide filtered questions tab I set up a while ago, and then forgot about until seeing Mad Scientist's comment. I've been using it in the past few days: stackexchange.com/filters/204587/my-filter – sumelic Oct 11 '17 at 17:09
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    @sumelic Currently, it serves no useful purpose whatsoever. There is nothing useful in the destination page. At all. (It may be interesting to see questions being added in real time, or questions the system deems "hot" using its faulty algorithm, but you don't a link for it. Especially when that link used to do something completely different.) – Andrew Leach Oct 11 '17 at 17:13
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    @AndrewLeach, sumelic, could we relocate the discussion of whether it should link to SE at all to this answer that suggests removing that link? It'll be more likely to be seen by the right people there. This answer was meant to focus on the new-tab problem. Thanks. – Monica Cellio Oct 11 '17 at 17:24
  • @MonicaCellio Yes, sorry. I've already upvoted that one. I suppose my last comment here might be useful there. – Andrew Leach Oct 11 '17 at 17:27
  • @KasraRahjerdi - I feel my proposal for the button offers a 'best of both worlds' solution, so if you're considering removing the link function entirely, could you take a look there first? :-) – Robotnik Oct 12 '17 at 4:37
64

— The site switcher, in its current iteration, has been on SO.com for 8 months or so and on all other sites for about a month. We will leave the icon, location and behavior as is for now. We will reconsider how it works in the context of the information architecture investigation mentions in the November TeamDAG update.

I risk repeating myself, but the site switcher symbol is confusing. I can (grudgingly) live with it being where it is now, but I still often mistake the symbol for chat. The drop down menu contains a chat link so I do eventually get what I expect, but I have hard time finding the site switcher. The tooltip helps, but I would recommend exploring new ideas for the symbol. I know symbols are hard, but could we at least see and discuss some options?

Comment to the status update: Thanks for the update! I am glad to see that this is being seriously considered instead of throwing in a thoughtless quick fix. However, I would prefer to have some sort of short term solution too, but I admit I have nothing up my sleeve to offer, apart from a community discussion of options.

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    this! a thousand times this! who sees a speech bubble and thinks "site switcher"? – motosubatsu Oct 10 '17 at 14:50
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    Getting to "meta" is hard. It is like they don't want new folks to engage in leadership, or helping in anything like an administrative capacity. – EngrStudent Oct 10 '17 at 20:32
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    I'd love to have both meta and chat clickable icons. Now there is no direct link to meta and chat main pages. – Olli Niemitalo Oct 11 '17 at 7:10
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    @OlliNiemitalo agreed.. getting to both meta and chat has always been a bit more convoluted then it needed to be and the latest update seems to have continued this. TBH I generally get to meta by clicking on one of the "FEATURED ON META" links and navigating from there and as for chat I generally just type the fricking URL. Both of which are nuts if you think about it. – motosubatsu Oct 11 '17 at 9:19
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    @motosubatsu The site switcher has links to both. – Joe Friend Oct 11 '17 at 14:31
  • @JoeFriend sweet! a little embarrassing that I never noticed that tbh, but every day's a school day! – motosubatsu Oct 11 '17 at 14:44
  • @JoeFriend I had also missed that. – Olli Niemitalo Oct 16 '17 at 9:05
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    I actually had to read it here to even find out that there was a site switcher. I clicked on the "StackExchange" and then there was a site switcher at the expected place, but of course not with the site-specific meta in it. Really a bad change. – Fabian Röling Oct 23 '17 at 10:24
43

RE: Clickable StackExchange Logo

- we implemented a content bubble that explains the network and a links to the SE.com front page. Something similar to your idea below.

I do like the new top bar and I think it's a net-positive change, but I feel like the experience when clicking the Stack Exchange button is a bit jarring. While I definitely like that this now does something, I think immediately jumping away from the current Q&A site to stackexchange.com might be a bit weird for all users involved:

  • New/Inexperienced/Single-site users find it jarring to end up somewhere else other than the current site they're on.
  • Experienced/Multi-site users that regularly used the old dropdown now click it and end up on a different site immediately, when this likely wasn't their intended action.

I think the addition of a simple dropdown that explains what the Stack Exchange network is (say, the Mission Statement from the Tour?), with links off to the website proper and the Tour itself would be helpful, and act as a 'buffer' to the navigation to help alleviate some confusion. So imagine this, in dropdown form:

Stack Exchange ▾

Stack Exchange is a network of 170 communities that are created and run by experts and enthusiasts like you who are passionate about a specific topic. We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise.

Visit Stack Exchange                                                                                                   Take the Tour

This is just a suggestion but I'd be interested in hearing some feedback - What do you think?

  • 6
    Best idea I've heard yet. – called2voyage Oct 11 '17 at 12:45
  • 3
    This is pretty cool. That's a rather meaningful purpose to having that link at all. (Granted I expect I'll see people complaining "ugh now I'm clicking the thing and getting the network intro!" :D) – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 13:54
  • 8
    That would be good compromise, surely better than what we have now. :) – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 14:16
  • 3
    Oh, I love this idea. It makes the link do something, that something is consistent with what you might expect, and it actually does something useful and not invasive. – Ajean Oct 13 '17 at 15:57
  • 3
    This is a great idea. I like the site switcher being with the other dropdowns (inbox, achievements, review), but I don't like that a button that used to be a dropdown now takes you to a different site just like that and I don't either like having a button that does nothing. This is a good way of keeping the site switcher consistent with the other dropdowns but still making the Stack Exchange button do something useful. – Donald Duck Oct 13 '17 at 19:33
36

Updated with status tags to identify the various requests and which we are trying to address and those we aren't.

I thought I'd get used to the new top bar. I tried, really. But I was wrong. I can't get used to it.

It's worse than what we had before, in all aspects:

  1. I keep clicking the SE logo to the left, close the new tab, sigh, and click the hamburger site switcher.
  2. I still can't really tell which icon is what, until something lights up. If I want to see inbox or reputation changes I usually end up clicking the wrong icon, go arrgh and click the other one.
  3. I never see the review icon lights up here on MSE even when there are some items. I sometimes click it anyway, see some grey review queues and wonder why they won't cause the icon itself to indicate this.

I am well aware this will not be changed. It can't be fixed. This won't make me leave or rage quit, but it's just something annoying that is always there.

However, I'm afraid many long-time users will be even more annoyed and reduce their time on the sites or even quit. Stack Exchange will suffer a big hit. Not fatal, but losing many active users is very bad, especially on smaller sites.

For the sake of those users, and myself, can we please have the option to revert back to the "old" top bar? Like there is the option on Stack Overflow to switch between "new nav" and "old nav", there can be such option added to preferences on all sites. (Note: this isn't relevant for Stack Overflow, where the top bar is totally different.)

  • 9
    The firs thing I did when Youtube changed to their new design was turn on the dark theme and think, "that looks cool" - the second thing I did was find the button to revert back to the old design. – X-27 Oct 10 '17 at 23:12
  • 1
    @X-27 There's a button to change YouTube back!? Where!? – Draco18s Oct 11 '17 at 3:48
  • @Draco18s probably it was for limited time, then if enough users reverted they would have nuked the new design... :) – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 5:00
  • 5
    A rant with no reasons isn't very helpful to the team to know what to fix for you. I know you say it can't be fixed but adding explanations of what you don't like and why helps everyone in the long run. I doubt you'll get the old bar back or even an option to revert back so you might as well try and improve the new one. – TheLethalCoder Oct 11 '17 at 8:14
  • I agree with @TheLethalCoder, I'd be interested to see you describe what seems wrong about the new bar and what you preferred in the old bar. That can present actionable courses of improvement, and could prompt actual change where a call to revert it won't. – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 12:29
  • @TheLethalCoder valid request, edited. – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 14:00
  • @doppelgreener see edit. – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 14:00
  • 4
    Even accessing a sister-site meta via the hamburger logo is trickier than ever, how will newcomers find it? It's not intuitive at all. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 '17 at 14:06
  • @Mari that is actually not really an issue, users with less than 500 rep get a question mark icon, which opens the familiar help menu. – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 14:09
  • 1
    #1 I agree but that's something users need to get used to apparently. #2 They should really add the text to the icons but seem reluctant to do so. #3 A bug, think it's been reported elsewhere. Overall though your concerns aren't un-fixable so it doesn't seem as bad as you initially made out. – TheLethalCoder Oct 11 '17 at 14:12
  • 3
    And then 500K users no longer see the question mark. Sometimes one really good answer gives the author two, three, or even five hundred rep, but the user will still be a newcomer. No, meta should always be visible, IMO. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 '17 at 14:12
  • @ShaWizDowArd Well, apparently I was never offered the choice. It was forced on me and I could find no way to change it back. – Draco18s Oct 11 '17 at 15:16
  • 2
    @ShaWizDowArd I'm a mod with over 150k network-wide rep, and it took me a minute or two to work out how to get to meta today. From now on I'll probably go there mostly by just manually changing the URL (which is also more difficult than it used to be, btw, now that you have to put meta somewhere in the middle rather than at the start). – Rand al'Thor Oct 11 '17 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Draco18s If you were logged in to your youtube account, and you clicked on your icon in the top right corner, there was a button that said, "restore old youtube" (I have no idea if it is still there, but that is how I was able to put it back). – X-27 Oct 12 '17 at 0:34
  • 6
    @LLlAMnYP The problem isn't that the bar is unfixable, it's that the things that need fixing aren't being done. I like the bar but it has major issues that can be fixed, they just aren't being. – TheLethalCoder Oct 13 '17 at 8:01
35

The primary CTA in this situation is "Join". We previously tested it in various locations and far right was the best. So we will keep the current order.

The switch switcher gets shunted aside by the "Join this community" button on sites I haven't joined:

enter image description here

It would make more sense to swap these two because:

  1. The switch switcher is on the far right everywhere else, and
  2. The "join this community" button would replace the other community-related icons (review, rep, etc.).

On another note, please don't hide the inbox on sites I haven't joined. I should be able to check notifications from sites I have joined whilst browsing sites I haven't joined.


For now I'm using these Stylish rules:

#custom-header, .-container .-main, .-ctas {
    /* Nuke the Ubuntu custom top bar, the SE logo and the "join" button */
    display: none;
}

#search {
    padding-left: 0;
}

.js-top-bar {
    /* Keep the top bar on top, force black for AU */
    width: 100%;
    position: sticky;
    background-color: black;

}

.top-bar~.container {
    /* Remove the extra padding for the site header */
    margin-top: 0;
}

.top-bar .my-profile .-rep {
    /* rep count needn't be bold */
    font-weight: normal;
}

The top bar is now, AFAICT, consistent across SE sites.

  • 18
    Oh, ouch, I hadn't noticed that one yet. That's really bad: if I reflexively click at the location where every other site puts the site switched, I'd end up clicking to join the community! If I haven't joined a site, there's a reason. This is awful clickbait. – Gilles Oct 11 '17 at 7:28
  • +1 being to the left of all those buttons (or, just the two buttons, really) would make more sense, including visually. It'd feel better seeing the two things always stuck to the right still be stuck there, and the button taking up the remaining extra space to their left. – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 15:55
  • 3
    @muru I logged a bug on this and we are investigating. – Joe Friend Oct 11 '17 at 20:55
  • 2
    @JoeFriend there is a popular feature request for this as well. 35 upvotes here, 13 there... no chance to reconsider the decision? Who decided "far right was the best"? I think the actual people using the sites are better in judging that than even some external UX experts, in case you are using those. – ShaWiz Dec 10 '17 at 8:30
  • @ShadowWizard The decision wasn't driven by external UX experts. We don't use any of those. It was decided based on testing different locations for the "sign up" button. More people are able to find it and sign up when it is on the far right. I'm not at all convinced that the increase in sign ups is a result of unintended sign ups (as claimed by Gilles). We aren't interested in those and would change it if that was the case. – Joe Friend Dec 11 '17 at 4:53
31

- We are working on making this change. It is a little involved, so give us some time to get it working. The plan is to do this for all of the drop downs.

Our link to the diamond moderator dashboard got shoved out of the way a bit, which is unfortunate: that link's inside a dropdown menu which, first, has to load before the link shows up.

enter image description here

In countries like Australia ping time can make loading take a few seconds. That's a bit of inconvenience we just didn't have before, so this becomes sort of a functional downgrade.

Either one of these things happening would be good:

  • Make the dashboard link a static part of the page that doesn't have to load first. When I click the diamond menu, show that "mod messages" grey banner with the dashboard link straight away. By all means load the messages to show in there, but don't make me wait on those in order to access the dashboard.
  • Move the dashboard link out of the diamond menu so it doesn't have to wait on that load time and so we can click it straight away. We were OK with that before when it was a "mod" link, it might not have been the prettiest thing but only a limited audience was going to see it anyway:

    enter image description here

  • If you middle-click/scroll-click the diamond, it goes to where the mod link used to go. – Oded Oct 10 '17 at 20:08
  • @Oded It certainly doesn't for me on Worldbuilding right now, with Firefox 52.4 on Linux. If I manage to click using the scroll wheel without scrolling, it does nothing; if I thumb-click (which with my settings normally opens a link in a new tab), then a new tab opens to the same page I'm already at. Not useful. And of course, that's so not discoverable. – a CVn Oct 10 '17 at 20:18
  • @Oded I can't reproduce that behavior. For me, middle-click/scroll-clicking the diamond opens the community homepage in a new tab. – called2voyage Oct 10 '17 at 20:18
  • Huh. Seems I was wrong there. I was sure it was something that was implemented :( – Oded Oct 10 '17 at 20:19
  • 3
    I'm in the US with a good network connection and I'm seeing that lag today, too. (I didn't before the broader rollout.) Making the dashboard link a static part of the page so we get it before the messages load would be really helpful; 80-90% of the time when I click the diamond it's to get to that link. – Monica Cellio Oct 10 '17 at 22:42
  • FWIW, we are looking into the bug that the middle-click/scroll-click isn't working. – Joe Friend Oct 11 '17 at 20:48
  • @JoeFriend Yey! That would be helpful as well. My preference is either of the bullet points, but I'll settle for that. The first bullet point just seems pretty sensible, especially, but maybe costly to implement. – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 20:51
  • @doppelgreener Correct, the first bullet point is a much bigger change. We are looking at it but no promises. – Joe Friend Oct 11 '17 at 21:15
  • @JoeFriend Thanks for looking into it. – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 21:17
  • @JoeFriend I've noticed the middle-click is working, and I appreciate that it is. Thanks for that improvement. :) – doppelgreener Oct 18 '17 at 19:05
28

Disclaimer: I'm not a designer and I don't have any aspirations to be one. I'm also speaking as a user and not as an employee.

I wonder if there can be a compromise on labels:

There is no room for legible labels in the current design. The font would have to be so small that it is arguable if it would help many people. (The example posted to meta cheated a bit by changing "achievements" to the much shorter "awards".)

So that we are all talking the same thing, here is the image:

On the topic, poke commented with a link to Myth #13: Icons enhance usability, which notes:

The Microsoft Outlook toolbar is a good example: the former icon-only toolbar had poor usability and changing the icons and their positioning didn’t help much. What did help was the introduction of text labels next to the icons. It immediately fixed the usability issues and people started to use the toolbar. In another study, the team of UIE observed that people remember a button’s position instead of the graphic interpretation of the function.

In other words:

  1. labels are most important for new user discovery and
  2. position is more important than the actual icon for experienced users.

By coincidence, our top bar accumulates more items as the user becomes more experienced. This suggests a compromise solution: use text labels when a new icon is added to a user's top bar and remove labels for icons a user already knows. Anonymous users would have the network and help icons labeled in addition to the "Log in" and Sign Up" links:

Label help and network

There's quite a bit of horizontal room at this stage. We really don't lose much room at the next stage:

My sock on a new site

My mockup is cramped and I used "awards", but there's a lot of room here to space out icons + labels. A competent designer would do a much better job—maybe good enough to look ok. (Also, I somehow got bigger and brighter lettering here. I'm not going to try to find out why, but I like my first mockup much better.)

By the time someone has access to the review queue, they will have a pretty good idea of where the inbox and achievement icons are. As long as we substitute the review icon for help without rearranging the old icons, it probably wouldn't hurt too much to remove some labels:

My sock is on SO. SOrry!

At this point, the items taking up space are reputation and badges. For a very small subset of users, there's also some moderator icons to be added. Obviously, it would be great to label everything. But the top bar is really crowded for mods:

Don't have diamond moderator sock.

I don't have a good solution to that, but maybe we can rely on moderators to have learned the position of icons over the years? If we can somehow guarantee they won't move around in the future (and yes, I anticipate the top bar will change again at some point) maybe that will suffice?

Notes on the mockup example:

  • I'm a fan of small fonts, but it is a usability problem for others. I think bigger labels would be better.

  • While "awards" != "achievements", I'm ok with that inconsistency. For that matter, I like awards as a term for the amalgamation of reputation gains, badge awards and new privileges. I'm not sure we are tied to achievements other than using that phrase in describing the top bar. It's not defined or used in the help center.

  • I'm not sure it even makes sense to label achievements. Most of the time, it doesn't need to be clicked. Only when you have something new does it matter for most people. And when there's something new, it helpfully lights up. Same can be said of the inbox.

  • The mockup was also cheated by including review twice for some reason. So there's more space available.


Counter-argument: "I don't know, dude. It looks weird to have some icons labeled and not others."

Yes, I agree. But that's why I call it a compromise. For the vast majority of users, it won't matter, however. Very few users get enough reputation to get a review icon. For new users, everything would be labeled to maximize discoverability (and presumably, engagement). Once people are used to the inbox and achievement icons, I don't think they need the labels. (Unless we redesign the top bar in an incompatible way, of course.)

  • 5
    Nice! Note that the old top bar also had some inconsistency in that some things were text (log in, review, tour, help) and others were unlabeled icons (inbox, achievements). So maybe the counter argument isn't that strong. – terdon Oct 12 '17 at 22:54
  • 5
    I really appreciate this deep dive into the UI... I'm not personally bothered by the inbox and achievements not having labels. I think a big part of the concern I've been hearing is that, since there's no understood symbol for "review" that it may be better to "stop trying to make fetch happen"... I'm interested to see what the poll turns up but without an option for "I abstain in hopes of something else" - admittedly not helpful - I'm not really sure the complaints will stop. Worth pointing out that mods are a varied bunch, we're not all super users. – Catija Oct 12 '17 at 23:01
  • 2
    @Catija: Yeah. I don't have a good solution for a moderator on a new site who is also fairly new to the network. It's a rough transition. – Jon Ericson Oct 12 '17 at 23:07
  • For reference the previous label proposals for labels were canon's and Journeyman Geek's, but I don't think anyone had suggested removing labels for experienced users before. On the whole, I think that's an acceptable compromise (even though I think a much better way of saving horizontal space would be to remove the reputation and especially the badges — but to partly compensate I'd like my username where the reputation is). – Gilles Oct 12 '17 at 23:22
  • 2
    Yes, the font size is an issue (I wish my eyesight allowed me to be a fan of small fonts). I think “awards” instead of “achievements” is fine. I also think it would be ok to skip the labels for mod icons, because mods visit the site every day and will quickly adapt to the one or two items, unlike people who visit only when they have a question and can't be expected to have any muscle memory. – Gilles Oct 12 '17 at 23:22
  • 5
    One caveat is that the switch from icons to labels should be based on a network-wide criterion and not a per-site criterion. Otherwise the icons will not be in the same location on all sites. – Gilles Oct 12 '17 at 23:23
  • Given that new mods are already contacted with various helpful links (and must accept the mod agreement before they get the new goodies), I think we have ample opportunities to tell them "hey, about those new things in your top bar" without having to add labels to the top bar itself. Labeling the new stuff (other than mod stuff) and not everything is a nice teaching tool. – Monica Cellio Nov 8 '17 at 2:51
27

Concern: Moving the site switcher from the left to the right is confusing. Move it back.

Status: status-bydesign

Explanation: We know that this will take some getting use to, but based on previous experience with changes like this we are confident that everyone can make this adjustment.

I am pretty sure that when the Coca-Cola Bottling company released New Coke they said almost exactly the same thing...

I urge you to reconsider.

  • 7
    Love that last sentence!! – Namaste Oct 10 '17 at 22:41
  • 2
    Unfortunately, Coca-Cola's revenue is much more directly related to the amount they sell than SE's is related to clicks on the site switcher. – Kevin Oct 13 '17 at 5:30
24

Site switcher

Concern: Moving the site switcher from the left to the right is confusing. Move it back.

Status:

Explanation: We know that this will take some getting use to, but based on previous experience with changes like this we are confident that everyone can make this adjustment.

What's really confusing is that in the mobile skin it's still on the left. Since I use both mobile and desktop most days, that's really going to slow down my ability to adjust. Can we have some consistency?

24

Personally, I think this is NOT a good change. It's a bit sad to know that SE has a full UX community of specialists and SE has not asked for their opinion first.

For starters, this probably won't pass any heuristic usability tests (you can use the set of Nielsen heuristics, or Schneiderman's eight rules or Jill Gerhardt-Powal cognitive engineering principles for improving the performance of the human computer as known examples, or Weinschenk and Barker's evaluation checklist).

I'm not saying the old version would pass them, because it won't. But at least users had several years to get used to those problems. Making a UI change to keep the same issues makes one wonder why these changes are happening.

As for accessibility ... it's quite surprising to see this, specially considering that accessibility level AA will be enforced for most US sites and there are some trials already.

I did a quick AUTOMATED test, and it shows these (quite incredible) results:

enter image description here

and just in case you were wondering, most of the errors are in... the top bar:

enter image description here

and this is only for accessibility . There are other important usability issues as well, which added to the accessibility ones makes this quite problematic.

In short: it looks like this is a change for the sake of change; has not improved anything and has made many things worse. I can see in the answers that many users already found many errors and problems, although most of them refer to issues such as icons or positioning and may be considered subjective.

However, tests and heuristics are objective, and should have been used throughout the entire process of deploying this quite minor (yet important) element.

Particularly troublesome are the items marked as because in other words, it means you won't change it no matter what, so it seems you're decided to persist on error despite objective measures and even laws being against you. A bit stubborn if you ask me....

PS: I belong to several communities. If you want to maintain consistency ... should not you try using the versions that are much better than SO?

23

help icon now omnipresent

Why has the "help" icon on the top bar been eliminated? Now, the only way to as quickly reach "help" is by hovering over the rightmost icon to read "a list of all 171 SE sites", and know it has any relation to "help". One finds "help" only after clicking on the rightmost icon. Viola, there it is, accessible. Why would any designer assume that users, particularly new users, looking for help, would know to click on that rightmost icon?

  • 6
    New users have a different top bar with no icon for review and a question-mark icon for help. See the reply to Erik's answer on this same page – sumelic Oct 10 '17 at 18:51
  • What @sumelic said. Check it out not logged in to the network; for example, in a private browsing / incognito window. – a CVn Oct 10 '17 at 20:26
  • 5
    @sumelic But I am not at all a new user; but I used the help button in the top bar so frequently (usually to link a newer-ish user to "help" on an issue they are facing); and upon first gaining review privileges, many users don't know to click on the rightmost icon, since there is not immediate indicator of where to find "help" from which they can select a relevant post for a specific user, as the need arises. – Namaste Oct 10 '17 at 21:16
  • 7
    Why should we expect anyone (new or not new) seeking a help menu, click on a button, which upon hovering over it, yields "A list of all 171 Stack Exchange Sites". This is really my sole concern with the new top bar; the removal of a direct "help" button, fully identified for all who speak (or read) English. Everything else just seems to be, more or less, positional changes. Why get rid of what has been a very useful button ("help") for all users? (We're talking about re-adding four letters on the top bar) – Namaste Oct 10 '17 at 21:28
  • 1
    Why would a user from only one (out of "171 Stack Exchange sites" have to, retroactively (post-network-wide deployment) try to detail all the changes, and how to do what users were able to do via the top bar? Why was this overlooked, prior to its network-wide deployment. I'd suggest that every site (171 of them) receive a post from SE, with a to link to a yet-to-be-created (and from the powers that be) demonstration for users across the network as how to make the transition more smooth for all of us. I think that's only fair, and entirely reasonable to ask. – Namaste Oct 10 '17 at 21:42
  • 2
    @amWhy This was asked when the new-new nav was first pushed to Stack Overflow, and the general answer was "because it was." In other words, they don't think you need a help icon once you reach a certain rep level. – Tieson T. Oct 11 '17 at 6:09
  • I agree. For a partial solution, notice that the is a help link in the footer, too. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 12 '17 at 3:57
22

help icon now omnipresent

Something that I've noticed is it seems like the help area is buried. I recently needed to grab the merge accounts link to give to a user and I really had to hunt around for it. It seems to me that help should be something easy to find. This is especially true since people never seem to look there when they have problems. Hiding the help link will surely only diminish its usage by people who really need it.

  • 3
    The help link is quite prominent for lower rep users. It's at the top level of the new top bar. Once a user has review privileges, then it it moves to a link within the site switcher. – Joe Friend Oct 10 '17 at 17:53
  • 7
    @JoeFriend Do users get notified of this change? If I was new and using help quite often then it all of a sudden moved I'd be very confused. It'd make sense for them to get a notification telling them where it is now. That being said there appears to be room for it still so why remove it in the first place? – TheLethalCoder Oct 11 '17 at 8:11
  • @JoeFriend I see that small icon now that you mentioned it. While I agree that is better than burying it, I still don't think it stands out. That little question mark icon blends in with all the other little icons in the little header. I think it is very hard to find once you have 500 rep on a site, and inconspicuous when you have less than 500 rep. – Erik Oct 11 '17 at 18:51
  • 4
    Imagine if your F1 button on the keyboard suddenly moved to the back side. That doesn't make any sense, no matter how proficient you've been with it. That's like saying "now that you've learned where everything is, we're gonna change it" (what?!) – user1306322 Oct 12 '17 at 16:02
  • 4
    @JoeFriend When was the last time you visited the "help" link on a new website you just wanted to check out? I suspect that at least some high-rep users (like Erik here) click the "help" link more often than new users, just to suggest the new users visit it. – Kevin Oct 13 '17 at 5:36
20

This could probably be a comment rather than an answer, but it surprises me that the inconsistency is . The How Stack Overflow redesigned the top navigation article states things like this:

We hypothesized that a lack of engagement with the nav was due to a combination of browsing habits, visual hierarchy, and the right-hand position of the layout. Based on research about F-shaped reading patterns and how readers’ eyes commonly move down the page, it made sense that our navigation was sub-optimal for most people.

And:

We also hypothesized that the focal point of the page (the logo) caused many users to skip over the small top bar. Plus the nav and top bar quickly scroll out of view when moving down the page.

But also some feedback like:

“Nav looks like tags — they might filter, but they don’t look like navigation. Makes you question what it is so I don’t click it and instead go back to Google that I’m familiar with.”

“Cleaner, more organized. Instead of jumbled stuff at top you have to read and decipher you can go to this.”

“More standardized position that you’re used to on other sites.”

“Looks really, really good. By far I like the new one — in the current one, you don’t notice the navigation at all, only the top bar. The (sub) tabs catch my eye before the current navigation.”

“In the old, it is weird to me that the two bars exist separately. This one feels more natural.”

“The new one is cleaner. Less wasted space. Things are more compact on the new one and account info is better grouped. Tabs across the top is preferable because a lot of sites have a similar flow. …much prefer the new one.”

The thing I'm trying to address is that one of the flaws of the old design, according to the article, was the shattered navigation, the questions/answers being on the right side, ... .

I'm concerned that this issue isn't being addressed with the new-new design, so I'm wondering how you think the new-new design tackles this issue.

  • 6
    The difference is that traffic to stackoverflow.com/jobs is closely related to the company's revenue, which isn't the case for other sites. – user315433 Oct 10 '17 at 15:04
  • @Desire I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say. Are you saying it's not worth to address all the issues mentioned in the article because there's no revenue? I can live with that, but then I wonder what the idea is behind the new-new design? Pretty much none of the points addressed in the original article are solved by the new-new design, but then I why did they reference to that article in their initial post if it isn't relevant anyways. – g00glen00b Oct 12 '17 at 6:26
19

I'm not sure what it is, but the new top bar just feels cramped.

The font is kind of thick, and that makes it look smaller. You're shoving more icons on there, half of which are more confusing than just a plain text label, so that's also more cramped.

The proportions just feel way wrong. The old bar felt a lot cleaner.

End review: =(

FWIW, I also am way less likely to go to review now, because it's smudged off right, and I have to think about which icon it is, and ugh.


The fact that the Area51 and stackexchange.com top bars are not changed is going to make this even harder to get used to.

  • 2
    Both of your edits are mentioned in the question... – Catija Oct 11 '17 at 19:07
  • Regarding review: we've just identified a bug that would've prevented the indicator from appearing for you on any site where you can review. Should be fixed within the next day - I expect this might make a significant difference, as review should be unobtrusive when there's not much to do. – Shog9 Oct 17 '17 at 23:46
19

To be honest, there are a few things with this new design that seem off to me. Most of them have been stated already, from the initial announcement on Stack Overflow to the announcement it was being released network-wide, so I won't restate them here.

However, consistency is a big problem. The main concern with this seems to be it would be too much work to get all the sites inline with SO. I don't understand the reasoning behind this, why can't you just get SO inline with the rest of the sites?

However, one small thing that seems to nag at me is the reputation number seems to stand out too much. I think it would make sense to unbold it at least and even have it be the same colour as the icons.

The reasoning behind not adding labels to the icons also seems odd. You yourself state "Icons are hard" then won't implement a simple change for them to make them clearer. Awards is shorter and conveys the same meaning as achievements so I don't see why it's "cheating" at all. It makes sense.

A possible bug with the icons is when you middle click them they just open up the same page you're on in a new tab. I would expect either nothing or to open a default page associated with the icon e.g. /help. This behaviour seems to be implemented for review.

I've just noticed that the StackExchange logo on the bar has also been updated, will this be changed on https://stackexchange.com/ too? Also, it is a darker colour on the main meta than other sites, not sure if this is intentional but it is confusing. Looking further it appears the SFF has the lighter colour and other sites like PPCG and Gaming have the main meta colour, is there any reasoning for this inconsistency? All meta's appear to use the orange colour though, though I'm not sure why this is... This appears to have been changed back again now, why though? Who knows. (Side note: it's hard to compile a list of bugs and feature-requests if you keep updating it...)

Another thing I've noticed since the new update is that I open multiple tabs before opening my inbox and rep dropdowns. On the old bar when I opened one on one tab the others would refresh and the counts would go away. Now I have to refresh the page myself for these to update. It is a bit annoying.

The rep popup on the achievements icon is not centred, I would expect it to be so.

Icon image

  • I created a post about the reputation numbers not being clear when the new top bar was initially introduced. Apparently the problem hasn't been addressed yet: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/301042/… – Tot Zam Oct 11 '17 at 1:18
  • @TotZam To be honest I'm losing hope on things like that ever being addressed. I do quite like the coloured numbers instead of the white for the badges and they are still readable. – TheLethalCoder Oct 11 '17 at 8:02
  • @TheLethalCoder We are looking at the rep number being bold concern. It is ultimately a design choice and thus subjective. The SE logo was a bug and is fixed. Regarding the counts across multiple tabs, this works for me (when cleared on one it gets updated on all). And, the indicator is intentionally offset. When a single digit this allows you to see most of the icon. Again, this one is subjective. – Joe Friend Oct 11 '17 at 20:54
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    @JoeFriend Do you have any further comments regarding consistency and middle clicking the icons? Also if you know something is subjective and is causing questions what's the harm in making it configurable? A user has managed to make a good userscript to do so you could always incorporate that. – TheLethalCoder Oct 12 '17 at 8:23
14

Regarding the site switcher, you said

We know that this will take some getting use to, but based previous experience with changes like this we are confident that everyone can make this adjustment.

Are you planning on moving the site switcher to the right-hand side for all SE sites so that we can "get used to it" across the entire network instead of having to remember whether we're on SO or not?

  • From the linked post's edit history, "Assuming no significant issues are discovered we will roll out to all sites within the next couple weeks"... not sure if the fact it was removed means something but it's generally seemed like the intention was for all sites to have the same top bar (excepting SO). Moderators have it on their sites in addition, so technically all sites have it... just to only specific users. – Catija Oct 9 '17 at 22:30
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    @bjmyers Yes, all users/sites will have the experience that currently exists here on meta-se. That goes live tomorrow morning. – Joe Friend Oct 9 '17 at 22:32
  • Ah, I didn't read closely enough. I was distracted by the heading saying that SO and SE network sites would not be consistent and missed the whole rollout announcement. :) – BJ Myers Oct 9 '17 at 22:37
14

It used to be like this:

Now it's like this:

What's with the tiny unbalanced podium for the number?

(I'm using the top bar customizer, but even without it, the tiny podium is still there and it's just as crooked, except it's on the right)


Update: This isn't such a problem on SO apparently, and it even raises the bubble up to reveal most of the cup on hover:

So this is only a problem outside of SO.

  • The change is posted off to the side, just like for when you received messages. Here's a view with two active notifications: image – Werner Oct 11 '17 at 17:03
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    ok so the inbox icon is mostly visible, but with so many symbols, the cup is mostly obscured and you can't tell what's behind the green bubble – user1306322 Oct 11 '17 at 17:36
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    The argument against using text labels along with the icons is that the text would be too small. So if we care about font sizes, how about getting rid of the "podium" and using that extra space (both height and width) to show the gained rep in a larger font? – Jeffrey Bosboom Oct 13 '17 at 5:19
14

You've made getting to the meta of a site when you're on the main site much more tedius now. I used to be able to click the top left thing (don't remember exactly what it looked like, it was pretty much automatic by the time you made the change), and easily get to meta.

After this change, I naturally did the same thing, and got some mess I had no interest in. I did some digging around and clicking, but never was able to get to meta. I finally got to meta by clicking on my user icon at top right of center, clicking meta user (or something like that), then eventually getting to where I could click questions to see the questions on meta.

Yucc!

STOP WITH THE GRATUITIOUS CHANGES!

  • You can get to meta by clicking on the newly re-positioned site switcher, on the right of the top bar. It's represented by the icon of three bars in a speech bubble, for some reason (apparently it's supposed to be a fusion between the Stack Exchange logo and a "hamburger" menu, not really an obvious choice for a site-switcher). – sumelic Oct 12 '17 at 16:45
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    @sumelic: I see that works. I didn't even notice that icon. It got lost in the clutter. But the more important point is THAT'S NOT HOW IT USED TO WORK. There was no good reason to break everyone's flow and waste their time while they learn the new arbitrary little details. I come here for various reasons, but having to learn a new UI isn't one of them. – Olin Lathrop Oct 12 '17 at 16:50
  • It was repositioned a while ago on Stack Overflow. The reason for it, as far as I can tell, is because the Stack Overflow top bar actually makes use of the space to the left (it is used for the questions, developer jobs, tags and users links). A desire for consistency with the Stack Overflow layout is the reason for its position in the new Stack Exchange top bar. It doesn't have any clear motivation considered in itself. – sumelic Oct 12 '17 at 16:52
  • Newly re-positioned and freshly obfuscated! – canon Oct 13 '17 at 19:29
14

To see all inbox items one has to scroll all the way down through recent items. To be consistent with the achievements and reviews tabs, I suggest to put the link at the top:

enter image description here

  • Actually those links refer to all items available to the community. Meanwhile the "see all inbox items" is a link to Stack Exchange instead of your current site. Honestly "INBOX" and "ACHIEVEMENTS" should be linked to your entire history. And possibly "REVIEW QUEUES" too. – Pluto Oct 20 '17 at 0:21
14

Can we have a link to the meta review queues (either individually or as a link to the whole page) with the rest of the review icons?

Rationale

  • In the old design, I could get to meta review with two clicks (review>meta review queues). Now it will be further away (site switcher>meta>review or review>all queues>meta review queues) and I will be much less likely to bother checking the queues
  • I can glance at all the other review queues to see whether they need attention, but can't tell anything about meta
  • Users new to review may not even know of the existence of meta review queues, since they have been neatly hidden away.
  • 5
    What if one of the review queues in the dropdown list was collectively "Meta reviews", showing whether there is anything to review at meta? That link could then lead to the meta review queues page with more details. – Joonas Ilmavirta Oct 11 '17 at 10:55
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Sounds like a good idea – boboquack Oct 11 '17 at 22:14
  • @JoeFriend will this light up with grey/red dots? – boboquack Dec 21 '17 at 22:47
  • @boboquack No, but you have easy access now. :) – Joe Friend Dec 22 '17 at 4:05
13

This feature has disappeared:

Don't require a click to switch between sites, inbox, and Achievements on the new topbar

(You can still try it out at the main site and Area51.)

  • While I'd like to see the old behavior back, I'm pretty sure this was done on purpose. – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 20:19
  • I actually didn't care for the old behavior. As long as dropping down the list clears all notifications, if you accidentally bump the mouse, you lose all prayer of seeing what's new. Happens to me all the time with the inbox as it is. – Cody Gray Oct 13 '17 at 8:43
  • @barto This is status-declined since we changed it explicitly due to feedback during new top bar testing on SO. The feedback was strong that it was too easy to invoke an alternate menu. – Joe Friend Oct 20 '17 at 16:50
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    @JoeFriend: Would it be possible to put in a diagonal-movement fix instead, as mentioned in the comments on that linked post, or is that too complicated to feasibly implement? – sumelic Oct 20 '17 at 17:33
13

See this post for details

I am here to propose a feature request about the review icon in the top bar. feature-request. The proposal made in the Review queue false positives is not to light up the review icon when there are no actionable tasks. But currently, it is happening the other way round. The users have to check every time if there are pending posts. This is not user-friendly.

Borrowing image from the post: New top bar is coming to the Stack Exchange network

Screen shot of the Top bar for a high rep member

In the above image, the review icon is it up with a red color(or a variation) indicating pending items for review.

I am not sure whether this feature is not working or temporarily removed for time being The review bar becoming totally red is next to impossible on smaller sites with less traffic (particularly beta sites).

Currently, there is no indication of pending posts. We only know if we click on the icon and check the pending items manually.

Review icon picture from a beta site

The above image is a screenshot from Hinduism. We can see that there were two pending items eligible for review but there's no such indication on the top bar. There used to be a number beside review option in the old design to indicate pending posts.

I am asking for an indication (Probably a glow or similar thing based on the number of pending posts like we get when we receive a badge) on the review icon even if there are 3 or 4 actionable posts.

  • That's a bug. Problem is, it's working fine on Stack Overflow, so they have little motivation to fix it. They will, but it might take several months. (The rest of the network is not nearly as important as SO) – ShaWiz Oct 13 '17 at 8:07
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    "The rest of the network is not nearly as important as SO". I am not happy with it. Other sites are also a part of SE network.They should consider beta and graduated sites with less traffic too. – Nog Shine Oct 13 '17 at 8:52
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    They do, and most bugs reported here affect the whole network, including SO, but now with this hybrid top bar it is different. I hope to be wrong and see the review icon fixed shortly, just giving a personal view and advising not to build our hopes too high. Best example I can give is a bug in the android app where your vote disappears after you cast it. The bug exists for two years. The team knows about the bug but will never fix it because they officially don't care about the app anymore. – ShaWiz Oct 13 '17 at 9:08
  • @ICanHazUpvotzPleez SO got this months ago. now only other sites, including MSE got it. SO having high priority – Optimus Prime Oct 14 '17 at 17:23
12

- We will be fixing a variety of issues that are related to the new review indicator on smaller sites (aka not Stack Overflow).

There's no red dot on the review icon on any site that I have a decent rep-count in, for example the Workplace, IPS, and Worldbuilding stacks.

All of them look like this:

enter image description here

We have to click on the button to see if there's anything in the review queues.

But at least I don't see a count for review queues that I can't see any more, so at least that's a thing.

  • This seems to be roundabout suggesting there should be a grey dot (or some kind of dot) when there's any reviews at all, even when there's not enough for the red dot. If that's what you're after then I agree with that, though I think this answer should more explicitly request a grey dot or something. :) – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 21:00
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    I had no idea there was a different between a grey dot on this icon and a red dot. I'd just like to see any kind of indication that there's things in the review queues to look at. Right now, there's nothing until you click that icon (at least to my eyes). – Snow Oct 11 '17 at 21:02
  • Right now there's a grey dot for a small number of reviews and a red dot for lots of reviews. – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 21:04
  • @doppelgreener To clarify, though, you mean per-queue (after you already clicked the icon). – Christian Rau Oct 11 '17 at 21:05
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    No. I mean an indication on the icon on the top bar, as shown in my screen-cap above. I know that when I click on the icon, I see notifications per queue. Basically, I want to see if theres any thing in the queues before I click the icon. Just the same as I see notifications on reps and the inbox. – Snow Oct 11 '17 at 21:08
  • @ChristianRau Yeah, there are dot indicators for the queues themselves -- not for the icon. The icon lights up orange if there's lots of reviews to do, but does nothing if there's only some. – doppelgreener Oct 11 '17 at 21:08
  • @doppelgreener Bingo, I've made myself understood! – Snow Oct 11 '17 at 21:09
  • If you click the button, you will see which review queues that have been awared a silver badge! On SO it is a red dot, on all other sites it is a silver badge. Silver badge is a good thing, yeah? Lets leave it be. – Lundin Oct 16 '17 at 9:42
  • I don't want to click the button to see if there's items to review. For the inbox and the cheevo button, there's badges to indicate there's stuff there to look at. I just want the same for the review queue icon. This worked ok in the previous version (even though the number was largely nonsensical). – Snow Oct 16 '17 at 9:48
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    FWIW, this is currently broken for you on several (though not all) of the sites where you're active: it'll never light up unless you have mod tool access. Should be fixed in the next day; sorry for the confusion. – Shog9 Oct 17 '17 at 23:48
  • @Shog9 Thanks for the feedback, appreciate it. – Snow Oct 18 '17 at 8:57
  • Fixed now - see if you have an easier time over the next few days. – Shog9 Oct 18 '17 at 21:10
  • @Shog9 Thanks, but this doesn't appear to be fixed for me. On my three most active sites, the top bar looks as above (no badge on the 'review queue' icon). When I click on the icon, there are queues to be reviewed. – Snow Oct 19 '17 at 6:20
  • Heh... Yeah, there's not much in the queues there ATM. I'll check back in a week and adjust thresholds if that holds. – Shog9 Oct 20 '17 at 0:10
  • @Shog9 Ok, I get it now. So the other notifications are user-based, but the queues are a global thing, so suck up global resources. Lowering the thresholds would impact global resources more. – Snow Oct 20 '17 at 6:32
9

There used to be a minor animation for the notifications. They're now gone:

enter image description here

However, it still works in the SO top bar:

enter image description here

  • The SO top bar is also taller. I'm guessing there's not really enough room for the animations on the regular one? – Catija Oct 11 '17 at 18:46
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    Actually this animation was irritating. I'm really glad they removed it. – ShaWiz Oct 11 '17 at 20:21
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    @ShaWizDowArd I liked that animation. – Nog Shine Oct 12 '17 at 5:01
8

Yes, the review icon is not that great. I prefer "review", but I'm now used to clicking on the strange edit symbol in a word balloon (#6 on the survey). I have a screenshot of the choices for the review icon below.

Please under no circumstances use the flag (#5). Flags mean one thing on the Internet - this thing is bad and clicking this button will do something to it.

Stack Exchange already has a flag icon in use for, guess what, flagging a comment.

Flag comment button

I do not see anything good coming out of having a flag in the top bar. It just sounds like a bad idea. (Yes, I get the whole thing about flags ending up in the review, but no.)


I don't like anything with a clipboard (#1 and #4). Reason being that clipboards are associated with pasting CtrlV. Maybe this is finally where I can find the Stack Exchange notes section, or where I can store often-used comments...

That leaves just #2, #3 and the current icon.
Of the icons there #2 is by far the best.
It's some kind of list in a word balloon. Whatever, I'll middle-click on it and move on. At least this one makes sense for a review icon.

I don't care for the YouTube verified paragraph icon (#3). What does a review icon need a check mark for?

Review icons

So please just go with #2.

  • 24
    It's the first time I encounter the concept of “youtube verified paragraph icon”, but the idea of “verified paragraph” is a pretty good one for review. Reviewing is about verifying if the (proposed) contents of post meets certain criteria. #2, on the other hand, looks like a speech balloon. What on earth does this have to do with review? – Gilles Oct 10 '17 at 15:17
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    @Gilles #3 does appear to be the best but it doesn't seem to match the theme of the other icons. – TheLethalCoder Oct 10 '17 at 16:30
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    @TheLethalCoder #3 is also the one I find the least bad. I might not spontaneously guess “review”, but once I know what it's about, I find it a good match (unlike the inbox icon, which does not look at all like the physical object to me). – Gilles Oct 10 '17 at 17:39
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    I agree (with David) that #2 is the least bad, with #3 as runner-up.  But it’s not “some kind of list” in a word balloon; it’s an emblem of the review queue page. I believe that it would be the least hard to “get used to”. But I also agree with the large number of people who ask: why should we have to get used to something new at all? Why change?  I have yet to see a coherent explanation of any benefits to this change; AFAICT it’s change for the sake of change. – Scott Oct 10 '17 at 19:32
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    I actually thought #4 was the best. It's a clipboard (makes you think of a boss going around and doing "performance reviews") with a checkmark (makes you think of verification - "checking off" on a valid post). Plus it matches the slightly more solid, blocky look of the other icons. – Mage Xy Oct 10 '17 at 20:43
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    Considered in isolation, #2 is the least bad of the bunch, but it's got one major problem: it too obviously means "chat". – Mark Oct 10 '17 at 22:14
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    All of them are bad. "Pen writing wordlines in a speech bubble" is not indicative of a "review" task, at all. Yet if we look at the options, FOUR of the icons are in this category: 1, 2, 3, and 6. Only #6 (the current icon) has a pen, but I dare you to tell me that the other three aren't just variations on that theme. #3 gets the farthest from it, being "check the wordlines" which is...maybe...review-y ("check the thing"). #2 is a bulleted list and #1 uses a clipboard instead of a speech bubble. – Draco18s Oct 11 '17 at 3:47
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    IMO #2 still has the same major problem as the current one, which is that it's clearly a chat bubble, so I, for one, would very strongly expect it to be the inbox, i.e. people talking to me. – Kevin Oct 11 '17 at 6:10
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    #2 looks like chat or a bulleted list (remember to look at it at scale, not just the giant version). #3 evokes text and "checking", which is what reviewers do, so it's the best of these options. – Monica Cellio Oct 11 '17 at 14:40
8

It's not at all obvious which icons/buttons in the top bar will drop down on click vs. taking me to a new page.

They all change in the same way on hover (lighten the background), and aren't grouped by drop-down vs. not-drop-down so I would expect them all to do the same thing (there are no drop down arrows).

I would make all buttons drop down or differentiate them more clearly.

  • I think the only one that doesn't drop down is the user profile, right? – Catija Oct 18 '17 at 0:27
  • @catija and the stack exchange logo now, which used to drop down. – spacetyper Oct 18 '17 at 0:54
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    Based on the top answer here and the comments on Monica's answer, that functionality may be going away. – Catija Oct 18 '17 at 0:55
7

As expected - there's a few comments on various chats about... folk knowing what they are. None on Super User, but I've posted a quick guide on it on Meta.SU.

I know the blog isn't used much for this (and I suppose a meta post would do), but an equivalent, official post showing the features of the new nav turning up on all the site side bars would probably help the transition a fair bit. Might also be a good chance to write about the process of working out what the 2017 top bar revision needed to be too.

  • Thanks for the guide! I've linked to it on Math.SE. – Namaste Oct 10 '17 at 21:11
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    @journeymangeek Nice job. – Joe Friend Oct 10 '17 at 21:28

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