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As part of implementing the new unified themes across the network, we're gradually rolling out updated site themes for each site. As of today, we have enabled your updated site theme for testing.

If you can't see it right now, that's by design! This is a very early test implementation of your design and we need your help finding issues with it before we make it live for everyone permanently. So, keep in mind, there will be things that need fixing! We'll address those things as we can.

If you'd like to review it, here's how:

How do I enable it?

Click here and check the "Beta test new themes" option. This will turn on the new theme for all sites that have one in testing, including this one. Here's more info on how to opt in. You can uncheck the box to revert to the older theme until the site is live for everyone. Note, while turning it on is immediate, it will take a few minutes to revert to the old view - but it will go through!

What type of feedback do we need?

On this post: Bugs related to this site's design elements

Please help us look for issues/bugs related to the theme design and how we have mapped the old theme to the new. This needs to be done within the limits of the new unified theme.

This could include colors of sections of the design or text, problems with JavaScript add-ons (if applicable), the logo or top banner appearance or other artwork.

You can also feel free to ask questions about the new layout if you're unsure how to navigate it.

On Meta Stack Exchange: General concerns about left nav or theming

There are some things that are definitely changing everywhere and can't really be adjusted on a per-site basis. A few of them include:

  • Top banner is shorter in height, so some artwork has to be adjusted along with some logos.
  • Left Navigation is active everywhere (but can be collapsed into a menu by visiting your site preferences - instructions here).
  • Responsive layout is active, which lets the site adjust as browser widths change - no side scrolling (some pages haven't been updated, yet, though). For now, if you prefer the scrolling, you can disable this by clicking the "disable responsiveness" link in the footer.
  • Many site elements including tags and voting arrows are standardized across the network.
  • Link underlining is active. In an effort to make links more visible, they are now being underlined.

If you have concerns or issues regarding the left nav or the overall approach we are taking to theming, then this Meta Stack Exchange post is the right place for feedback.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some unique design elements like voting arrows and tags that are being standardized in this process. Keeping these custom elements makes our ability to maintain the sites too complex and, while we're very sad to see them go, we're in a difficult position of needing to make the site designs work together so that we can continue to address feature requests and bugs that will make your Q&A experience better. This is addressed in a Meta Stack Exchange post if you want more detail.

What new themes?

If you're like, "What the heck are you talking about?", then you should read the Meta Stack Exchange post entitled Rollout of new network site themes (and maybe the posts it links to for the full background). To follow along with the rollout of these new themes, go here.

Thanks so much for your constructive feedback!

Oh, Who am I?

If you don't know me, I'm one of the Community Managers here at Stack Exchange. I'm here to listen to your input and convey it to our Design team for responses and fixes to bugs. I'll do my best to respond to your concerns and explain whether changes we've made are bugs that can be changed or if they're by design and why.

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  • $\begingroup$ @MaartenBodewes If you have something constructive to say, it's welcome. Outright abuse is not. $\endgroup$ – Catija Oct 28 '18 at 0:41
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    $\begingroup$ I've created multiple constructive posts on the subject. But I see at our beloved sister site security.stackexchange.com that whatever is said, you will just move along and do it anyway. That's the part that I get angry, because you at SE should be shamed about this. HELLO? WE DON'T WANT IT $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Oct 28 '18 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ Do you know that it is very easy to look for similar posts of you by browsing to e.g. meta.tex.stackexchange.com, hit questions, then look for the one with the lowest score? Again, nobody wants this change. Back to the drawing board, do it again. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Oct 28 '18 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Catija Harsh criticism is not abuse. Perhaps you should listen to feedback before it gets to the point where the feedback needs to be expressed so strongly. It's a valuable skill to learn. $\endgroup$ – forest Oct 29 '18 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ Note that there are a lot of comments on the CS site at SE. I'm not sure how many of these issues have already been picked up as the beta testing seems to have been started at the same time on all sites, probably leading to many many many dupes. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Nov 13 '18 at 16:10
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Before reading this, please be warned that my feedback is going to hurt some feelings.


Honestly, and please excuse my choice of wording, the new theme sucks big time!

The left sidebar – which merely contains some links and had a perfect place at the top - is now being rendered into a huge waste of screen space. Not only doesn’t it push the important information (the questions and answers) too much to the right, it also visually distorts things as the whole site now has an uncentered focus with a strong visual leaning to the right side of the screen.

To show you what I mean, I’ve taken a screenshot and overlayed it with a transparent red box that has the same width as the main (white) content area of the site. The main content should align with it to avoid the visual right-leaning I’m talking about.

Screenshot of Firefox with added transparent overlay to show visual alignment glitch

But your “let’s put those links on the left” redesign introduces more problems.

This becomes especially apparent when looking at what happens to the right sidebar on lower width screen sizes (<= 960 px) as a consequence: the right sidebar is reflowed and pushed to the bottom, underneath the main content, because your left sidebar steals the precious screen space.

This is disastrous as this practically hides the right sidebar information (which is definitely more important than those links on the left).

Here’s a screenshot showing what I’m talking about. first screenshot is top of page, second one shows the same home page scrolled down a mile, just to find the right sidebar floating there.

Screenshot of Firefox showing home page with new design on lower-width screen

Screenshot of Firefox showing home page with new design on lower-width screen, scrolled down to the end of the question list to find that right sidebar floating there

Frankly, you might as well make that right sidebar a footer while you’re at it – that, at least, would make some sense.

Now, I know the theme is still in beta, but I'm very confident that this is not what should be happening: a few links get focus while the right sidebar flows weird to the bottom due to the resulting lack of horizontal screen space. That’s as no-go as it can get.

There are a truckload of other (completely different) design glitches related to your current beta theme, but since I am not the one being payed to take care of SE’s design, I’ll refrain from listing them all. After all, there’s no such thing as free lunch and it’s definitely not my job to educate you. Fact is: it’s your job and I therefore expect you to know what’s wrong yourself.

From someone with a BA in visual communications (me) speaking to the payed SE designers: if you’re honest to yourself, you’ll have to admit that this theme is not even close to an alpha design sketch. In its current state, your theme violates so many UI and UX design rules that it hurts.

Please go back to the drawing board… pretty please.


PS: It has been brought to my attention that I am not the first one ranting and we’re not the only site having issues with this new “design” proposal. Better listen to your user feedback SE, as users are what makes your sites what they are and users are what produces your income.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't worry, you aren't hurting anyone's feelings. We all feel the same way you do, and we all know the devs do not care about feedback and will not read this or take it into consideration. On my system, I get about 3 or 4 words per line for questions and answers, since my browser window is not maximized. $\endgroup$ – forest Oct 10 '18 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ So, while the feedback is appreciated, none of this relates to Crypto's specific site design. Everything mentioned here is part of the overall design change. The screen balance can be fixed to what it was by hiding the left navigation into a menu (second question bullet point), though I'm not quite sure how it's less centered, since having only the right sidebar makes the questions heavily left balanced. There's a lot of content planned for the left nav, like custom saved searches but making those features work on ~70 different themes would introduce a huge number of bugs. $\endgroup$ – Catija Oct 10 '18 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ We're absolutely planning to address the issues related to the right sidebar and others in the future. $\endgroup$ – Catija Oct 10 '18 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Catija Re: none of this relates to Crypto's specific site design, It certainly does. I can’t help it that SE uses the same base template on all sites (causing alike feedback everywhere). See, I’m just providing feedback on what I’m looking at right here and right now. Please excuse me if you expected me to ignore glitches in the general template and only report glitches related to CryptoSE customization thereof. To do so successfully, I would have needed access to your codebase to be able to see which bugs are part of the general template, and which bugs are limited to CryptoSE. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Oct 11 '18 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Catija To drop some constructive feedback on the centering problem you’re not seeing: you could ask a dev to take a copy and bluntly make the left sidebar white…you’ll quickly notice the visual difference. As for the undisclosed glitches, I understand the SE team is working on things – so it’s too early to dive into details that might (or might not) already be on SE’s todo list. Speaking of which: Is there some central place online where you’re tracking bugs related to the general template so that users can report them there? (To avoid sending reports about things that are already be known.) $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Oct 11 '18 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ +1 nice answer. Have a look here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/316768 $\endgroup$ – iBug Oct 26 '18 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ @iBug You sure got my upvote. (Even needed to step on my non-moderator soapbox there). The "swallow it or get lost" stance is a mistake from my personal point of view. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Oct 27 '18 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ If you want to see something really weird, try this on $\TeX$, the community trying to restore their site. Sad, really. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Nov 19 '18 at 3:51
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In my opinion, the new design actually works quite well here on crypto.SE once you collapse the left sidebar. Honestly, that really should be the default, at least until and unless we actually get something more useful than a bunch of rarely used links there.

Other than that, though, I have no complaints here. In fact, I already had the "Beta test new themes" and "Hide left navigation" options selected (apparently, they're cross-site) and I didn't even notice the change until this meta post alerted me to it. Without the left sidebar, it looks almost identical to what we had before. And the somewhat more compact logo header area is actually an improvement for us, IMO.


PS. All that said, I do feel kind of sad to see all the great unique designs that many other sites had being cut to pieces in the name of uniformity. Crypto.SE always had a relatively basic design, so we're not particularly badly affected, but places like RPG.SE and Worldbuilding really ended up with their design chopped into pieces and clumsily glued back together.

As a developer who has worked on large codebases with lots of diverse customer-specific variations before, I do understand why you felt the need to do it — but I can't help but feel that a lot of the "technical debt" that you cited as the reason is really a symptom of your centralized design and development processes not scaling well.

You have lots of communities with skilled users who actually care about how their site looks, as amply demonstrated e.g. by the PPCG.SE community redesign script, and you could have allowed them to take care of much of the tedious work of adapting the local designs to framework changes and debugging the results. But instead you chose to do everything in-house by paid employees, and that clearly only scales as far as your income does. And with most SE sites generating no direct revenue, it really doesn't. So now you're cutting back per-site maintenance costs by minimizing the differences between sites, when you could have instead focused on ways to turn community involvement directly into technical improvements without monetization in between.

Sure, all that would've (and still would) require some up-front effort in publicly documenting your front-end design structure (Stacks does go some way towards this) and setting up ways for users to develop and test custom design changes (which would be pretty easy as long as most theming was done in custom CSS / Less on top of a fixed semantic HTML structure; unfortunately Stacks seems to be moving away from that with its "atomic classes" that encourage hardcoding design in HTML). But if you really wanted a scalable way to maintain a large number of sites with distinctive designs, that would IMO be the way to go.

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enter image description here

The top of the logo isn't aligned to the pixel grid, leaving it unnecessarily anti-aliased. If the logo height was increased by 0.5px or so, that should allow it to be aligned to the grid.

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This may be an unpopular opinion, especially looking at the opening post's votes, but honestly I feel like the impact is somewhat negliglible for us. And if you can promise us that these changes will allow more fancy features to be added that make use of left-nav and that some sites which have been waiting on their new design for years (like PPCG) will finally get one, I'm actually all for it!

Also, if you hate left-nav, don't forget that you can hide it into a hamburger menu left to the "StackExchange" logo on the top-bar using your user-preferences (once you're using the new design)!

But to calm everyone down, here's a list of the things we didn't actually lose but that other sites will.

  • We already used the standard up- and downvote arrows (or at least very similar ones), so we won't lose much on that front unlike e.g. PF&M:
    PF&M arrows
  • Our logo was already left-aligned, so we won't lose that either, unlike e.g. InfoSec InfoSec.SE (old)
  • Our main buttons (user, ask, ...) were placed on the right and now (mostly) moved into left-nav, so we will "lose" that just like all the unthemed and beta sites will. Also, how often did you use these anyways as a regular user? ;)
  • Our fancy logo-shaped Badges will stay.
  • Our logo will stay (albeit a little bit smaller :( and unlike on InfoSec it also won't be "dumbed down")
  • Our logo-background will stay (InfoSec only got it to somewhat stay)
  • Our site-background (the little logos on the left and right) will stay.
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  • $\begingroup$ I'd be grateful if someone could help me scale down / cut down these images... $\endgroup$ – SEJPM Oct 10 '18 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ You can append ?s=512 to the Imgur links to cut them a bit. Also you can use standard HTML. $\endgroup$ – forest Oct 10 '18 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ Not losing as much as the other SE sites doesn’t make things good. Fact is, even our “less messed up” design sucks into brokenness (see my answer for some details on that). $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Oct 10 '18 at 10:19

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