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This is just a detail but why not suggest an improvement.

When I want to go to a given Stack Exchange site I click on the "list bubble" icon top right which results in a menu with a list of sites. The list is long and therefore best navigated using the provided search field. Therefore, inevitably, I always enter a few letters of the desired site name which boils the list down to the handful of matching sites. However, even though the list is virtually unusable except through the search field, the search field is not in focus. I must click on it.

I suggest to give keyboard focus directly to the search field in the site list so that one can start typing right away (similar to the new Windows start menu).

An additional, even smaller improvement would be to give the "action focus" for the enter key to the top item in the matching site list. That way one can navigate to that site just by keystrokes after the initial menu click. This also follows the neat efficiency of the Windows Start menu (I didn't think I'd ever write that sentence ;-) ): <Click menu>-c-m-d-<enter> opens the Console without intervening clicks or tab presses.

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    I have so many sites in my dropdown that I can't see my top community when I'm searching for a site, so this would be disorienting. (Additionally I feel it would also be confusing for those who only navigate with a keyboard, since the tab focus would jump over the top items and make it unclear how to select them.)
    – Laurel
    Apr 5 at 19:06
  • @Laurel In which way would having the keyboard focus on the edit field be disorienting? At the moment key presses don't do anything, so it's not that any behavior people are accustomed to changes. Nor would the GUI change at all (hence my head scratching). It's simply that I would like letters to appear in the edit field when I type. Hardly disorienting -- it's the only place keystrokes can sensibly go. Apr 5 at 22:30
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    Usually when a field has focus, it's also got code that ensures it's on screen. If it's offscreen, it'll cause the page to scroll. And what would happen on pages like the tag search page, which already has a focus? Do we need to swap focus back and forth whenever someone opens and closes the menu (is that even possible)?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Apr 6 at 0:46
  • This is one that I wanted to request for so long but I knew it wouldn't be too popular. Another related one is to have a keyboard shortcut for opening the Stack Exchange menu. Apr 6 at 5:44
  • Auto focus would render "Your Communities" useless, so bad idea. I'd support something like "focus the search textbox when user starts typing something", which is way less intrusive and won't harm other features. Apr 6 at 7:04
  • It's about accessibility, see WCAG's Focus Order requirement. I am also against having typing auto focus the box (except maybe as an opt-in setting) on similar grounds, since that will interfere with the shortcuts used by assistive technology such as screen readers, essentially making it extremely difficult or impossible for some users to navigate.
    – Laurel
    Apr 6 at 15:15

1 Answer 1

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I might misunderstand you, but IMHO this feature request makes sense ... unless you have an appropriate list of 'your communities', which I assumed most (if not all) users maintain explicitly or have implicitly (because the system suggests a list of them):

enter image description here

I don't see why I'd want it to autofocus on the search field for all communities; most of the times I just want to navigate to 'my' communities.

Autofocus after typing is also something I wouldn't expect, especially not in a browser. The particular Windows feature you describe isn't common UX practice and IMHO rightfully so.

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    "which I assumed most (if not all) users maintain explicitly or have implicitly" by default it sorts on reputation, which is 'good enough' for most users.
    – Mast
    Apr 5 at 20:14
  • I didn't know one could maintain that (ok, there is an "edit" buried there, I see). But I guess I'm active in more communities than fit the visible list anyway. By the way, what do you mean with " autofocus on the search field for all communities"? I only see a single search field which searches all sites. I'm also not sure how setting the focus could have any detrimental effect -- currently nothing happens when I type, so it's always an added benefit. Think Windows Start menu. Apr 5 at 22:28
  • If there's a limit to the list, @Peter-ReinstateMonica, it's at least 10-15. I currently have 9, personally.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Apr 6 at 0:48
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica if the field is autofocused, then the browser would automatically scroll to it. So, if you wouldn't be able to see a few of the top "Your communities" list.
    – VLAZ
    Apr 6 at 6:01
  • @Catija: There doesn't seem to be a limit... I currently have 21 sites in my list.
    – Justin
    Apr 6 at 9:37
  • @VLAZ Now I see the problem. My favorites list is so short that the edit field is always visible. But one could, of course, filter without a visible edit field (Windows Start menu). Apr 6 at 9:37

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