Feature request:

Instead of checkerboard modules, can we have the chatrooms displayed as banners across the screen (SO style)?


I was asked to explain why I'd prefer this UI.

This whole question of UI design is one of aesthetics which is naturally very subjective and difficult to justify rigorously. I mostly made this post to hear if others agree or disagree with the suggestion. Nevertheless, I will venture an explanation.

  1. Depending on the tab selected, the StackChat homepage shows a list of available chat rooms. If the list is intended to be in some order (recent, active, hot, etc), stacked banners are a much more intuitive representation than an ordered double array of boxes. A vertical stack is logically consistent with our intuitive notion of order and precedence a grid is not.
  2. When the room order changes, this change is more clearly represented in a list than in the rearrangement of a two-dimensional chart.
  3. From a sensory perspective, scanning a horizontal banner that extends across a page is consistent with the mechanics of reading and the English language.
  4. Stacked banners give a sense of rigidity and structure which is attractive to look at.
  5. Horizontal banners demand our focus in a sequential order, a grid demands our focus from all over the page at once which makes the UI feel busy and less focused.
  6. The chat-room modules seem like they are supplanted on top of a background. I have an intuition that I can drag them around the page as if they were like the icons on my desktop.
  7. The design is not internally consistent with the rest of the SO - SE UI.

In summary, I don't think the way data and functionality are currently being presented reflects the nature of the data and type of functionality made available in the UI.

Edit #2:

Another reason I would like to see this changed:

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With the current UI I have to hover over each room title to find the specific discussion room I'm looking for...very annoying.

  • Can you explain a little bit why you'd like that better? – balpha Jul 16 '10 at 6:02
  • @balpha: I ventured my explanation. – Ami Jul 16 '10 at 8:02

Per balpha's suggestion, reposting a dupe question I made as an answer here to hopefully illustrate what I think is a problem with the square card layout, which @Ami addressed in points #3 and #5

It's "hard" for me to read the list of chat rooms. here's the typical path my eyes takes when I am seeing what chat rooms are active

existing chat

how about something like this instead? (not pixel perfect obviously - but y'all should get the idea i think)

better maybe


After a few months, we're very happy with the "card" metaphor, and it seems to me that this is general agreement.

A big advantage of the current format is the amount of rooms you can have visible at once, to get a sense of "what's happening" at one glance.

  • I don't think it's true that the square card metaphor allows you go show more rooms. It's the same amount of information, just presented in a long rectangular card. – kenwarner Jun 14 '11 at 18:32
  • Also, I think @Ami has some valid points, particularly #3 and #5. What benefits does the square card metaphor have that outweigh these? – kenwarner Jun 14 '11 at 18:34
  • @qntmfred: What benefits does the square card metaphor have that outweigh these? That question implies that I agree with those points, which I don't. Btw, you should post your mockup from the dupe as an answer here. – balpha Jun 14 '11 at 18:51

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