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Here are a few thoughts of mine about the new sidebar appearing on SO:

  • There's "Home", then there's "Stack Overflow", but the latter doesn't take you to the homepage. It instead takes you to /questions. Why isn't it just called "All Questions" then?
  • What is the globe icon next to "Stack Overflow" supposed to represent? None of the other items have an icon.
  • Why separate some items under "PUBLIC"? Is "Home" not public? Isn't this confusing for new visitors to the site who expect it all to be a public forum anyway?
  • Why do I have to dig deep into settings to hide the sidebar? Can there not be a simple arrow button?

Forgive me if some of these concerns have been asked/answered elsewhere.

EDIT: As suggested by Catija I have now made a post on some changes I would like to see made to simplify the left nav for non-Teams users on the live left nav discussion here.

EDIT 2: Many posts arose on MSO regarding the same points I have raised here:

migrated from meta.stackoverflow.com Jun 12 '18 at 19:08

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • I am very happy with the sidebar. I don't wan't a toggling arrow to the side of it polluting the space. I prefer it to be a setting, which is not really "deep". – Félix Gagnon-Grenier Jun 12 '18 at 19:12
  • I'm guessing that 'Home' is going to look different for users who use both the public and Teams versions of Stack Overflow. They might see questions for both in that tab. It may also end up being a feed for all the SE sites we have accounts on once it's rolled out to the rest of the network, hence the site name instead of "All Questions". – BSMP Jun 12 '18 at 19:13
  • Noted. Everything regarding teams now belongs to MSE. – TGrif Jun 12 '18 at 19:13
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    @FélixGagnon-Grenier Sometimes I want it there, and other times I don’t. I would hardly call it “polluting” if it was just a small arrow at the bottom. – Callum Watkins Jun 12 '18 at 19:13
  • It smacks a little bit of marketing the Teams putting it out there, big and bold, and making it hard to hide. Or maybe I am just cynical. – QHarr Jun 12 '18 at 19:59
  • @TGrif Since when? As far as I'm aware, Teams questions go on MSO. – Catija Jun 12 '18 at 20:03
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    @BSMP Yes, Teams users do see both public questions and questions in their team on the homepage. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Jun 12 '18 at 20:04
  • @Catija Martijn Pieters links this post as a comment before he migrates the question. So it's probably relevant. – TGrif Jun 12 '18 at 20:30
  • @TGrif That post is about the responsive design, not about Teams. Responsive design does go here - it's network-relevant. Teams is SO only and questions belong there. – Catija Jun 12 '18 at 20:33
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It might help if you see what it looks like for users who are on a Team:

View of Stack Overflow.com home page when on a team

I've removed the Teams content for privacy reasons but it looks like the questions list, just limited to those Teams.

So, this is what I see regardless of whether I click the Stack Overflow logo in the upper left corner or the "Home" link. They both go to stackoverflow.com.

Clicking on the "Stack Overflow" under "PUBLIC" omits this Teams content and results in the URL stackoverflow.com/questions where questions may be sorted by various options (by "active" in this example). This is the equivalent of clicking on the "Questions" button in the older design (and still implemented on sites other than SO):

Result of clicking on the Stack Overflow tab in the left sidebar

What is the globe icon next to "Stack Overflow" supposed to represent? None of the other items have an icon.

The globe icon relates to it being the public version of the site. All questions there are viewable by the world. As you can see, it contrasts with the Teams listings, where the icons are the Team logo. If you're not on a Team, there's no icon to contrast with the globe. You can see that the indentation of that level is the same. Nothing else has a logo because nothing else has that indentation (unless you're on a Team).

Why separate some items under "PUBLIC"? Is "Home" not public? Isn't this confusing for new visitors to the site who expect it all to be a public forum anyway?

This is, again, to separate "PRIVATE" content (TEAMS content) from the publicly viewable content. One of the big focus points for Teams is to avoid Teams users accidentally posting private content on the public site. This is part of that effort.

Why do I have to dig deep into settings to hide the sidebar? Can there not be a simple arrow button?

I think that's under review consideration. It's being discussed other places so I don't know that it's worth bringing up in yet another one.

  • It certainly helps to see it from a Teams user's perspective. It is the "Stack Overflow" button under public that I was referring to in my question. I must say though that having two buttons that are both "Stack Overflow" that take you to different pages is confusing, as is perfectly demonstrated by the confusion between me and you here. You say that "Nothing else has a logo because nothing else has that indentation", and yet Tags, Users and Jobs are all indented without a logo. Can this be explained? – Callum Watkins Jun 12 '18 at 20:28
  • Some people do actually like the ability to see the (new) questions page directly as it clears out all of the questions that were edited, answered, etc... So having both links is something that's been pretty consistent for most of the history of the Network. If you use any other site, compare clicking on the "SO" with the globe to clicking on the "Questions" button that was in the top bar until today (I think). That might help. – Catija Jun 12 '18 at 20:30
  • Don't get me wrong, I like having a link to /questions, it's just the naming that I believe is misleading. – Callum Watkins Jun 12 '18 at 20:31
  • SO isn't at the same indentation as "Tags" (etc.) SO is one indentation level higher (assume that the globe is the lead for the indentation. The "PUBLIC" is the header and is set apart by being in all caps). – Catija Jun 12 '18 at 20:32
  • Ah, I see now. That isn't immediately obvious. However, unless this becomes a space for all other SE communities to be shown, why would they need to be indented underneath it? – Callum Watkins Jun 12 '18 at 20:32
  • The confusion only will ever exist on SO (because of Teams). Everywhere else should look like how the links look on MSE - instead of the site name, it will say "Questions". – Catija Jun 12 '18 at 20:41
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    Would be nice to see the nav simplified for non-Teams users then, rather than having it shoved on to everyone and over-complicating what should just be a few links. – Callum Watkins Jun 12 '18 at 20:43
  • That sounds like a Feature Request that should go here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/310908/… :) I'm not sure if they'll be able to implement it but it doesn't hurt to ask. – Catija Jun 12 '18 at 20:45
  • Thanks for providing this. This is the sort of thing I would have expected there to be some documentation around. Or did I miss it? (Quite possible). – QHarr Jun 13 '18 at 6:24
  • Was a multi-page design not possible for Teams versus Public? Like a multi-page form where you switch tabs . – QHarr Jun 13 '18 at 6:29
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    @QHarr My understanding is that one of the main goals with Teams was integration into Stack Overflow so that Teams users could search with the main SO search bar and get results both on public SO and on their Team. As such, the integration was something they worked really hard on. – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 19:42
  • @Catija Thanks for clarifying. – QHarr Jun 13 '18 at 20:57
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My concern with the sidebar is that it takes up a non-sizable 15% or 1/7th of my valuable screen space, and only half of the "stolen space" is actually used. The only links that are relevant to me are Users and Tags, and even those are very rarely used.

I understand that this may be helpful for Teams, but what portion of SO users are actually using that product, or are likely to anytime soon? If the intention is specifically to promote Teams, I realize the site needs to generate revenue, but this seems like a rather intrusive and therefore likely ineffective way to advertise.

             

On the other hand, if SE want encourage use of the sidebar, I'd suggest utilizing the unused space to create a "customizable quick links" section, with single-click access to my favorite searches, SE Sites, saved draft(s) of my incomplete posts, and ideally, even access to posts I've "dog-eared" for later attention, like a place to to keep posts which I "flag for followup in x hours/days".

...a customizable mini "quick-link" section of sorts.


EDIT: (an after-thought)

Is it just my imagination or have the left/right margins been increased, so even if I hide the nav bar, I still don't have the "usable" space that I had previously...?

              

  • As far as I'm aware, those are all possible/planned additions to the sidebar. See the "Add more value in left nav" section here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/309349/… – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 4:48
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    +1 I like many of those suggestions. Would love to be able to tag/pin questions for later review instead of leaving tabs open etc. And it really should be collapsible/sizeable in my opinion at the very least. – QHarr Jun 13 '18 at 6:26
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    @QHarr you can collapse the left sidebar. It's a preference on your user page. :) – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 12:26
  • @Catija Thanks. But I have to go there and set an option rather click hide/unhide so to speak? – QHarr Jun 13 '18 at 12:45
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    There's some consideration floating around about changing the implementation of this, from what I've seen... not sure if/how it will be done. Check the featured post about the new layout to see that discussion @QHarr – Catija Jun 13 '18 at 12:47
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    "single-click access to my favorite searches" what a genius idea. If only we were working on something like this. ;) – Joe Friend Jun 13 '18 at 19:20
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    To specifically respond to your "after-thought" question -- no, the content width has remained the same. When you collapse the left nav and your browser window is wide enough, the layout is largely the same as before (except for the top bar, of course). – balpha Jun 14 '18 at 8:07

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