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This is somewhat related to this question, which asks about the point of the Stack Exchange logo in the top bar.

There's a rather frustrating experience when navigating between Stack Overflow and other SE sites with the new layout/theme. Now that the new theme is live on Software Engineering, I have some side-by-side screenshots showing the differences between the two sites. Switching between the sites, which are supposed to have the same style of theme, is not as easy as it should be.


Home Page

This shows what you see when you visit the site's home page.

The first thing that is apparent is the misalignment of...well...just about everything. On SE Network sites, the logo is above the pane that displays the content. SO has the logo in the top bar. By shifting the logo location, everything is shifted lower on sites in the SE network. Even if the windows are scrolled to the same location (such as the top of the page), everything will be offset. I'd like to see the SO logo moved to the same place as the logo of the other sites on the network with the top bar getting the Stack Exchange network logo or the Stack Exchange network logo being replaced with the site's logo.

The content of the sidebar is also pretty apparent. Stack Overflow does have some features that SE Network sites don't have - Teams and Jobs, primarily. The order of the sidebar is just different, though. On Stack Overflow, the links in the sidebar should be (in order) Home, Questions, Tags, Users, and Jobs. On Stack Overflow, under Questions (and likely indented), is where I would recommend that links to Teams go. Also notice that Unanswered is missing from Stack Overflow, but I suspect that this has to do with the question filtering that is being tested there. When that rolls out to all sites, I would also expect it to go away from SE network sites.

The implementation of Teams is something to consider. As far as I can tell, there's no way to disable it from showing up on the homepage by default. This may be a , but it's one related to the user experience once someone belongs to a Team. Depending on how the person uses Stack Overflow and what the nature of the team is, seeing Team questions in your face whenever you visit the site is not always what is desired. Personally, when I visit Stack Overflow, I'd like to see only public questions by default. Having the ability to search across the Teams I'm in and see if a Team has new activity (the red dot in the sidebar) is definitely useful, though.


SE Questions 1

SE Questions 2

In all of the Question views, the questions take up a lot of vertical space because of the text under them. On Stack Overflow, the only way to see a list of questions without that text is on the Home view, but that also brings in the list of Team questions. On both Stack Overflow and SE Network sites, the page with the advanced filtering requires you to view the beginning of the question text. This feels like wasted horizontal space - show me more question titles and tags, since that's what I typically use to decide if I want to click on a question to see if I can try to answer it.

I think here, some of the other differences will go away once the advanced filtering stuff is rolled out across the network. I hope that's relatively soon. The alignment issue that I mentioned with the homepage is probably the biggest problem when changing between tabs.


Overall, it seems like the UX issues center around not considering people who use multiple sites on the network in tabs. I have a set of sites that I consider my professional base that I frequently have open in a window at work - Stack Overflow, Software Engineering, Project Management, SQA, and The Workplace. Once all of these sites are upgraded to the new theme, I should be able to seamlessly switch tabs and not have the controls jump around the page when I'm scrolled to the top of the viewport.

  • On new designs, clicking "Home" already serves this purpose... it's one of the things I like best about the left bar. I share your frustration about not having easy access to the front page of sites and I'm looking forward to this change. – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 0:00
  • Another (possible) option would be to make the Stack Exchange in the upper left take you to whatever local home page you're on for the site without it actually saying the site name... this is potentially confusing but, right now, the text doesn't do anything particularly useful and what to do with it has been up for debate for a while. – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 0:02
  • @Catija Surprisingly, I have never even noticed the Home link before. Although most sites that I use regularly don't have the new theme yet. It was extremely frustrating. I suppose the Home works, but it would be nice if the site logo replaced Home. It would be more obvious and more prominent. – Thomas Owens Aug 21 '18 at 0:03
  • I think that the complication is that on SO "Home" takes you to the front page that includes Teams... but Teams aren't visible anywhere else, not even MSO... but in the section that's for SO only, it has the SO site name... so it's a matter of deciding what part of the left sidebar we're duplicating. If it's the part inside "PUBLIC", then it should be the site name. I do think that might be worth considering. – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 0:05
  • @Catija Yeah. That is confusing. Although I think there's another feature request floating around to make the home page not include private teams (which I support). Honestly, it's a little annoying. 99% of the time, I want the public SO site and not the team. – Thomas Owens Aug 21 '18 at 0:06
  • If the link in the top bar defaulted to the SO-only view that might address that... the difficulty is that for users who do need easy access to a viewport that shows activity on their Teams, this would reduce the likelihood of them seeing that content. I'm on the other end of the spectrum from you... I'm on four Teams and never use SO, so having the SO link in the top bar go to SO only would hinder my access to Teams. – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 0:09
  • @Catija I guess my overall point is that when I'm on SO with new theme and Any other SE Site with the new theme, I'd like a consistent UX with respect to the top bar and the left side bar. Although SO does have more stuff (Jobs, Teams), I should be able to do the same stuff. On SO, my workflow is to use the logo in the floating top bar and I can't do that on other sites and it's frustrating. I should edit the question a bit. – Thomas Owens Aug 21 '18 at 0:11
  • Yeah, I think in the interest of reducing the vertical space used on SO, we got rid of the banner space entirely by pushing the logo into the top bar... but on the other sites, the important thing, I suppose, is connecting the SE network together. Plus, some sites have really long names - PP&CG or HSM... that'd be tough to fit in that space without killing the search bar entirely. – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 0:15
  • @Catija Given this discussion, I've revised the question. Since you resolved my initial concern, I wanted to focus on the lack of UX consistency across sites in the network. – Thomas Owens Aug 21 '18 at 0:46
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    On other sites (like this one), I click on the logo at the top to reach the home page. That only works if you go to the top, though, so I like the idea of the logo/link in the left nav (for those who use it). – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '18 at 2:29
  • @MonicaCellio Yeah. Pinning the logo to the left nav bar would be great. Plus, when you're on sites with similar themes (or any of the unthemed and Beta sites), it would be a more clear reminder of where you are. – Thomas Owens Aug 21 '18 at 10:38
  • The logo still needs to be visible with left nav collapsed, so it's a bit tricky, but that seems solvable to me without making a mess. (Ideally the logo appears exactly once.) – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '18 at 12:46
  • @MonicaCellio The logo would appear more than once, since it'd need to stay in the banner, right? – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 15:19
  • @Catija maybe in an ideal universe, if the left nav is visible and showing the logo, you don't also show it in the header. But twice is better than zero times; what I want to prevent is moving the logo to the left nav (and if you don't use left nav, tough luck for you). The logo needs to stay available regardless of left nav or browser size. – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '18 at 15:54
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    @MonicaCellio I think that what would save the duplication is to use the full logo in the header and use only the icon and plain text in the left sidebar... that would make it more legible in the case of some of the logo fonts and make it text instead of an image... so I guess it wouldn't necessarily be truly duplicated. :) – Catija Aug 21 '18 at 15:56

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