Cross Validated's updated site theme is ready for testing!

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.

• We lose our custom up & down facing normal ;distributions for voting. – gung Sep 19 '18 at 19:09
• The new design wastes to much screen real estate! The new column on the left is the culprit. Any good reason for that? Prefers the old design. – kjetil b halvorsen Sep 19 '18 at 19:58
• @kjetilbhalvorsen we have a lot of big plans for the left navigation in the future. It will give a home to some features that have been long-requested, such as saved searches/custom question lists. Right now, it is somewhat sparse but we're hoping that everyone will eventually find it a great hub for content they use frequently. – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 20:38
• Catija: Then why not switch it off by default until those plans are ready to be implemented? – Scortchi Sep 19 '18 at 20:41
• @Scortchi Because hiding those links by default behind a completely new hamburger menu make things much more confusing for many users, particularly users who are viewing the site anonymously (and don't have site settings at all) or who have just created accounts. Most users who access these sites (particularly SO) never create accounts or aren't constantly logged in. We have to be certain that the navigation is easy to find for everyone and consistent. – Catija Sep 19 '18 at 20:47
• There is another change, probably unintended: On this machine (and all my other machines), in the old design, posts that I have visited before (on the same machine), and posts not visited before, have a slight title color difference. With the new design that disappeared. Get it back! – kjetil b halvorsen Sep 20 '18 at 8:24
• @kjetilbhalvorsen & everyone else: I was just thinking, it'll be better if we raise issues in answers, one per answer, else this post could become a terrible mess quite quickly. – Scortchi Sep 20 '18 at 11:56
• @Glen_b It'd be really helpful if you could write this up in an answer and include some screenshots. You have a lot of concerns that are important but I'm not seeing what you are, so I'm not precisely sure what's wrong. :) – Catija Dec 14 '18 at 5:08
• Having dug through and found an old page I had saved on my machine I was able to do a comparison. The biggest difference is when I try to make the text larger to make it easier to read (which I used to do often -- the old layout accommodates this readily but the new one is forced to wrap lines much more making it harder to read long questions and answers.) ... I've deleted my previous comments, but I may post a new one later. – Glen_b Dec 21 '18 at 7:35

As @FranckDernoncourt has pointed out there's a lot of wasted space at the top with this new layout. That's mainly due to the banner which contains just a link to our home page (an icon together with the name of the site) & a mystery graphic:

Stack Overflow has a neater layout; with no banner at all, & the link to the home page on the top bar, in the left-hand corner:

My suggestion's that we could have the same layout as SO, roughly like this:

This would be more consistent, & provide a permanent reminder of what site you're currently on (because the banner disappears as you scroll down). It would also resolve the issue raised by @MartijnWeterings of Meta's not being clearly distinguished from the main site. If we want a link to Stack Exchange home page too, there's plenty of space in the left column.

• As noted in the comments of Frank's answer. This won't be possible as part of this round of design changes and I can't make any guarantees that it will ever be possible. At this time, all non-SO sites must have a header bar. – Catija Oct 10 '18 at 5:05

There is another change, probably unintended: On this machine (and all my other machines), in the old design, posts that I have visited before (on the same machine), and posts not visited before, have a slight title color difference. With the new design that disappeared. Get it back!

• (+1) Perhaps even a greater difference in contrast than we have now would make things easier for the visually impaired, & colours could be chosen to help most dichromats. – Scortchi Sep 20 '18 at 13:22
• +1 fof the color blinds – Xavier Bourret Sicotte Sep 20 '18 at 16:42
• This has been fixed! Thanks for pointing it out. :) – Catija Oct 4 '18 at 16:31
• I tried it, is perfect now. – kjetil b halvorsen Oct 14 '18 at 12:03

Why waste so much vertical space before the actual content appears?

More generally, with all the white spaces, it looks like the website was designed to be browsed on an iPad.

• With responsive design, the layout is designed to be functional on a variety of screen sizes, from large 4k monitors to smart phones. When browsing with a narrower page, that white space goes away. Also, we need the page elements to be in roughly the same place so they're easy to find. The top bar and banner are on every site (except for SO), and the header for each view is filled with slightly different content. Compare the Home page to the Unanswered Questions page, for example. There's much less whitespace on the latter because there's more content in the header. – Catija Sep 24 '18 at 16:23
• @Catija: Could we have a design like Stack Overflow's, with the site name on the top bar & no banner? (What is the graphic on the top right by the way?) – Scortchi Sep 25 '18 at 14:22
• @Scortchi I've had that asked on a couple of sites - we need all of the non-SO sites to have the same format for their layouts. There are a lot of sites that are already sad about the shorter height of the heading and how it hurts their unique designs. I'm not sure what the design here is supposed to represent but it looks like a data visualization sort of like the one used in this article: technologyreview.com/s/408104/mapping-the-internet I can see what we used for inspiration for it, though. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 15:21
• @Catija: Why do you need non-SO sites to have the same format, if you're maintaining two formats anyway? What's special about SO? – Scortchi Sep 25 '18 at 16:18
• Other than that it's SO? It's not a matter of having two formats. It's a matter of having three or four or dozens... or 174... We couldn't just give y'all the SO top bar. There are other things about it that don't apply here. We'd have to create a third top bar for the sites that don't want a header... which then means we have to make sure that when we fix things for one top bar, it gets "fixed" on the others. Also, this is the Stack Exchange Network. Having the SE logo in the top bar is practically our only network branding. We need the sites to be tied together. @Scortchi – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 16:21
• @Catija: Sorry, I don't follow you. I meant: why's a banner a good idea for all sites except Stack Overflow? And the only thing I can see that would need changing in the top bar is the button site name & logo - what else is there? And why would removing the banner for sites that don't want it imply you have to remove the header for sites that don't want it - is it a slippery slope? – Scortchi Sep 25 '18 at 16:38
• Because many sites, particularly sites like Worldbuilding, SF&F, M&TV, Arqade... would hate not having a banner. They're already very upset that we're rescaling the banner to be shorter and removing or minimizing the artwork in it. These sites love their custom elements and don't want to lose them. We're already struggling to convince them that the changes we're making are necessary. Getting rid of the banner entirely would be even worse. Stack Overflow doesn't have that need. They've been using their top bar for navigation for a couple of years. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 16:42
• @Scortchi The SO banner includes Teams integration, which doesn't exist for any other site on the network. It's also a different color. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 16:44
• IMHO the less customized each SE is, the better. On Reddit they have an option to switch to the normalized template for each sub instead of suffering through all the customized templates, I very much enjoy the option. I just want QA. – Franck Dernoncourt Sep 25 '18 at 18:44
• That sort of thing may be possible in the distant future but won't be part of this update. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 21:22

With a wide window the three-column layout looks all right, though you could perhaps make the centre column a bit wider (long lines of text seem to be more legible on screen than on the printed page):

But reducing the width of the browser window gradually squashes the centre column—the one readers are actually reading—to the point of its being absurdly narrow, in view of all the space available in the left & right columns:

If you continue past this point, the right column suddenly disappears, the text in the centre column gets reflowed, & (after some time scrolling up to find your place again) the centre column is wide again (indeed wider than it was with the widest browser window).

A similar thing happens as you narrow the window further, with the left column disappearing far too late.

I hope this isn't too tricky to fix; just a matter of changing some settings.

• Deciding where these break points should be is part of what the design team is still figuring out (along with what to do with the right sidebar when it does collapse away). They're not optimal right now, you're completely correct. Most of the narrower views are intended for mobile, which still has to be optimized. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 13:39
• @Catija: The layout on my phone's not too bad now in fact. It's more the middle-width views where the layout's poor; & that doesn't just affect people with mobile devices, but anyone who wants a PDF viewer or an IDE's script window, say, open on one side of the screen, & a browser with CV open on the other. – Scortchi Sep 25 '18 at 14:13
• @Catija: By when do the design team plan to have it figured out? Before the changes go live? – Scortchi Sep 25 '18 at 22:17
• I don't know. It's not something specific to this site, though. It won't prevent the theme update for this site going out any more than it prevented the other ~30 themes from going out. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 22:23

Longer mathematical expressions rendered in MathJax can extend into the right column, & are superimposed on what's already there:

• That looks like this post, I think? – Catija Oct 4 '18 at 16:39
• Yes - though I've seen it on others since, here & on Mathematics. Sorry, I should've thought to include a link. – Scortchi Oct 4 '18 at 16:42
• I'll have them look into this. I'm not sure whether it's fixable or how it would be fixed. Is there a way to wrap the equation in the longest line that still makes sense? – Catija Oct 4 '18 at 16:43
• @Catija: It's a bit like hyphenating words: there are good & bad places to put the line break. Unless an algorithm already exists it might be best to have a scroll bar appear when displayed maths doesn't fit in its column, as with code. – Scortchi Oct 4 '18 at 17:21
• @Catija: Any news? – Scortchi Jan 8 at 14:07
• Similar request got marked review on MSE, so should be getting some info soon. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/325870/… – Catija Apr 3 at 22:38
• @Catija: Thanks! – Scortchi Apr 3 at 22:40

I liked the way how themes for meta and non-meta where different. With the currently similar themes I get confused and this is annoying because the menu's for navigation are different between meta and non-meta. It has become less clear what site I am one.

If you make different sites and navigation menu's then why not also different themes?

From this point of view I do not get why sites should have completely similar looks?

"the new unified themes across the network" what does that mean? Does it mean unified in the backend or will it also mean unified for the frontend?

• Is the idea to have the similar (looking) themes only temporarily, due to a reset of the themes, e.g. because of some changes in the background (and stats can look different again later on)?
• or is the idea to make the themes more permanently similar because some people have decided that the customized front end themes should be more similar?

NEW

https://stats.meta.stackexchange.com/

https://stats.stackexchange.com/

OLD

I think that the difference for me with the old designs was that stats.meta had a uniform background and stats had a non-uniform background (ie a contrast between the center/middle panel and the sides). So even though the background is only a faint pale colour it was a distinctive difference because of the contrast with the sides.

• Main and meta themes are still different - main themes are colorful (depending on the site), meta are largely greyscale. The navigation are the same, as far as I'm aware - can you use some images to show what you mean by them being different? The visible layout of the sites has to be reformatted to fit a single unified back-end layout. We can't unify the back-end without changing the visible site. We need to have the links and menus in the same place on all of the sites. Some sites had the main logo in the center, for example, which we can't do any more. – Catija Sep 24 '18 at 16:19
• @Catija Unified back-end is fine. My question is about whether the front-end is gonna look different eventually? I have added two images. Except for different logo's there is no difference. This is unclear to me. What is the unification plan, just back-end or also front-end? What do we need to test, back-end or also front-end? In case of the latter, does this mean that the current similar front-end designs that are being tested are intentional and close to final? – Martijn Weterings Sep 24 '18 at 21:44
• The navigation is the same style but different in content (e.g search on cross validated vs search on cross validated meta). That is confusing because it is not easy to see what site is open in the active browser tab and one will use the navigation for the wrong site (or at least this happens to me now). – Martijn Weterings Sep 24 '18 at 21:53
• The views you have in your answer are the final views of what this site will look like once it's turned on. But I've looked at this site with the old style on and this isn't really a huge change. Being able to tell the difference between main and meta is just as difficult as it is because the CV.SE design colors aren't bold enough for the monochromatic version to be that different from the full-color one. The background on main is pale blue green and on meta, is grey. They're similar but not the same. The artwork in the upper right and the footer bar color are also absent on meta. – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 1:40
• On main, also, the question titles are blue while on meta they are black. Usernames/links on main are red and they're orange on meta. There are subtle differences. All of that said, if there are ways we can make these differences clearer for you, let me know. What, specifically makes the two too similar - particularly considering the old layout's similarities. What about the old design told you "this is meta" vs "this is main"? – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 1:43
• @Catija the old site had a distinctive background colour. – Martijn Weterings Sep 25 '18 at 6:29
• Very pale yellow is not what I'd call "distinctive". Old main and meta i.stack.imgur.com/5UxNp.png New main and meta: i.stack.imgur.com/0X2Ok.png I'm not saying we can't make adjustments to this but I don't think that switching back to this very pale yellow is going to really do any good... and that's what I'm asking - how can we make this better? – Catija Sep 25 '18 at 13:01
• @Catija the different background simply worked for me and helped me in making a distinction between websites. I can't help you much further except for stating this fact and telling you that the change is annoying me by making me not anymore able to distinguish the sites sufficiently such that I end up with more clicks (due to mistaking the websites) when navigating the websites. Possibly the slightly different colours of the links may help me in the future, but what I do know for sure is that the different background helped me for certain. – Martijn Weterings Sep 25 '18 at 14:39

This sort of thing used to work better than it looks on my machine now:

Not sure if this is caused by the new theme, but this looks like unintended behavior (rendering of the badge container; awarding of the badge is perfectly fine):

• It's a general bug. I've seen it reported a few times. Thanks for letting us know. We're working on fixing it. The profile pages are complicated! – Catija Oct 5 '18 at 12:28

Two problems that are probably related: On my linux machine (latest (testing) debian, mate desktop) both occurs, but not on windows neither android.

1) when clicking on the flag symbol for sending a comment flag, the pop-up window appears partially outside (on the left side) of the visible screen, cannot be moved, so cannot be used.

2) In the review queues, the action buttons on top are far to the right that some are invisible. Particularly, the skip button is outside the screen.

Both problems occurs with firefox (from debian repo), but not with chromium or google chrome.

EDIT