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.

  • For some reason, some of my posts get negative as well as positive feedback... is there any way you can fix that? Nov 28, 2018 at 18:00
  • @elliotsvensson Yeah, that's a style bug in the site, I'm sure. Happens to me too ;)
    – user11643
    Nov 29, 2018 at 21:48
  • Have to say that I dislike another feature: Q on meta being voted upon in this way. In this case: useful post, but with unwanted content? Since we do not like the change? So we're shooting the messenger. On principle, I am against that, as much as I am not in favour of the current theme. Now, how do I vote on that? Go with the band? Dec 5, 2018 at 19:16

4 Answers 4


I'm just going to say it: I hate the new SE themes, and I'm a little mad about it too. It's cramped as all hell. My monitor is 17 inches wide, but the actual content of the site is only 7 inches of it. That's an atrocious and obnoxious use of my attention as a user. I get the point with the right side bar. You want to put some ads up and draw people into more participation on other SE sites with the "hot network questions", but at 6 inches it's too big already. Then you go and eat another 3 inches of screen width with a persistent generic nav menu on the left. This makes absolutely zero sense, since there's already a persistent nav menu at the top (and come on, two menus? WTF!?). Yes, I know I can turn it off in my profile settings, but then it's permanently inaccessible. They are rarely needed links, but I still need them sometimes. Put the stupid "Home" and others links up there and stop stealing my screen space for non sense. Or, here's a novel idea, I can just scroll to the top if I need the "Home" links, just like I've always done. "Hey, you know what we really need? Some links we rarely click persistently taking up 3 inches of the left screen" said no one ever.

So I've resorted to a custom extension on Chrome. Since you can't seem to design a decent theme, I'm literally doing it for you.

Yes, this is a rant, but it's meta, so deal with it.

  • I recently noticed the hamburger menu in the top left, when you turn off the left side bar. It houses all other links. But it's still a multi menu thing going on here. It's confusing if you are new and haven't been around for 4+ years.
    – user11643
    Nov 30, 2018 at 20:14

So, what's the idea behind the new design? I don't like to be that negative, but the experience with our very first design has shown that holding back criticism of a new design only delays the problems.

I wasn't exactly a big fan of the current design, but this update feels like it removes every single design element that was left. As far as I can tell, what we have is the beta design with a rounded border, a serif title font instead of sans-serif, grey instead of blue tags, and a slightly lighter blue primary color.

I'm not a designer, and Skeptics is certainly a hard topic for a design. But is there really nothing better than no design elements at all? The update feels like the most bland design possible for an SE site.

Some other random observations:

  • the rounded border part of our theme doesn't fit with the sharp borders of other common design elements like the watched and ignored tag widgets.
  • does the serif font make any sense at all in the current design? We have no other element that support it in any way, but it's also one of the very few things that actually distinguish our design from the plain beta design.
  • I think the serif font has a connotation of a typewriter, and for me it kind of brings to mind a letter-writing investigative journalist from the Cold War era, chain-smoking, surrounded by newspapers and thick books, trying to get somebody to see the TRUTH! Nov 28, 2018 at 18:04
  • I agree this site is a little bare boned. (May I venture that's better than the initial design? ;-) One thing I'd like to emphasize is that the standard theme allows us to iterate on design in ways we couldn't when each site had its own hand-tuned CSS. Nov 29, 2018 at 0:33

I'm sorry to say this is far from production quality. Did your designers actually look at it this before releasing? The new theme on mobile is broken.

Firstly, stuff is misaligned and spaces are all wrong. Note the page is flushed left except 3 elements are randomly flushed right without any reason. Also note there are 3 (three) burger menus and one has to guess which does what. Terrible UX.

enter image description here

Yes, you now see flags as a mod, but clicking on it sends you to a desktop page? So long graceful degradation...

enter image description here

Furthermore there are obvious problem on the question page, as the title -- the most important element -- occupies half a line whereas the "Ask Question" button is in the way. Clearly not designed correctly for readability.

enter image description here

Finally, let's take a look at the footer... not sure what you are going for there, but wrapping one column out of three looks like a mistake.

enter image description here

I did not go page by page, this is just spot checking and... no sorry, this is not good enough.

  • 1
    I extracted one of the entirely broken aspects you noticed and expanded on it to post it on the main meta (meta.stackexchange.com/q/319224/151385). The design certainly seems to be at least unfinished, if not entirely broken on mobile screen sizes. Though I think the old mobile design is still served by default right now.
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Nov 30, 2018 at 23:06
  • Hey. Thanks for all of this. The responsive design hasn't been optimized for mobile yet - that's why the mobile skin is still an option, though I know that's not a great answer for mods who can only mod while mobile using the full site view... it's coming. The pages that aren't responsive (like mod pages) - aren't responsive anywhere, not only on mobile. We'll be working on it soon and these points will be useful. :D
    – Catija
    Dec 5, 2018 at 6:40

Going meta-meta for a second: In previous theme changes, some of the other mods and regulars have been quite vehement and specific in their dislike, and I have been more chilled. To their credit, they have pushed to get many changes made that I will acknowledge are significant improvements.

So, once again, I am a little more chilled, but I throw my support behind the previous commenters because they have proved that they are not the sort of people who just complain against any change, and because they have shown they have stronger UX chops than I have.

I have been using the new theme. I haven't noticed any specific bugs or failure on my desktop (Windows, Chrome) or mobile (Samsung, ancient).

My main response is that has less personality. I think the lack of a background image is a large part of that.

The amount of space at the top before the first question starts seems excessive, but I am not sure if that is just because I am not used to it (and as a frequent user, I am more focussed on getting straight to the content and less about the aesthetics.)

  • Not sure what exactly the 2nd paragraph should say.Is there a "not" missing? Dec 5, 2018 at 19:13
  • 2
    @LangLangC: You mean the new theme won't take my poorly-constructed sentences, and turn them into English? Bah! What good is it? [Thanks. Fixed. Sorry]
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Dec 5, 2018 at 23:15

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