Hello, English Language & Usage Denizens!
(Yes, I know you don't literally inhabit this site, but hi, anyway)
First, an apology:
This site was probably the hardest site for me for a variety of reasons. I'm still learning how to accept criticism without being hurt by it and this site design failed you all in a way that I wasn't prepared for. I appreciate and treasure your clear care for this site and wanting it to feel like home - and a place you want to be. I want you to be here, too, and want you to feel welcome and comfortable.
If it seems like I disappeared for a while, I did. I've been on parental leave for the last six weeks - you might notice there are now two adorable boys in my avatar rather than one. I've still been thinking about this site in the interim and trying to figure out how best to address your needs.
For the silence while I was out and my limited interaction before that, I apologize. I hope that, moving forward, we can work together to make the site design something you enjoy.
Site Redesign going live on Friday
On Friday, this site's design will be live for everyone, not only those in the beta test. I'll be reviewing my ill-fated meta post to see if there's anything else we can easily fix for you before Friday but this will be moving forward because Winter Bash will be starting next week and we need the entire network updated by the time it starts.
Please take a minute, if you haven't already, to read my Meta Stack Exchange post:
Responsive Design Themes - What can sites customize and how can they get changes implemented?
I tried to encourage some of this back when I first was talking with y'all about the site design here but I don't think I was clear about what we were looking for. I hope this helps better explain it. In particular, consider the discussion on Database Administrators about their top banner.
The problem that we were having was sort of like a "too many cooks in the kitchen problem". We had several people weighing in on what the banner should look like and we were trying to address that and then having some people like the change and others dislike it. We could have gone on with that for weeks, which wasn't doable because we had dozens of other designs to redo.
For the parts of this site's theming that you all want us to revisit, I'm encouraging you to start a new question here on EL&U meta about it and work through what you all think is a good solution to that specific problem. Then, once it's discussed, we can work on changing it. If you have questions about what's possible, ask them in an answer to this question or on the MSE post if you think they're more broadly applicable to the network.
Please do understand that I'm talking about the EL&U theme, specifically, not the elements that are network-wide like left navigation, the fonts used (unless y'all make the unexpected decision to switch to sans), and the positioning and styling of the other navigation elements. Here's the list from that MSE question of the sorts of things I'm talking about:
- Arqade (among other sites) - Artwork in footer.
- Photography - Photo of the Week box.
- Worldbuilding - their robot, Slartibotfast, was a major part of their site identity, so we were sure to incorporate it into the design by letting it float at the bottom of the page.
- Sidebars/backgrounds can have a light-colored solid, pattern/texture, or fade or even a combination. The left navigation text is black everywhere on the network and the navigation column does not have a separate color background, so the background must be light enough and without overly-distracting artwork so that it is of sufficient contrast and legible.
- Header banners are required (you can't drop them entirely a'la Stack Overflow) and the dimensions are fixed but the content of them can be pretty varied. Do keep in mind that on some smaller screen widths (think mobile) elements like images are either dropped to not clash with the site logo or will be obscured by it. This is why some of the busier images seem to stop half-way across the screen when viewing on a desktop.
- Fonts are set network-wide with either a serif or sans-serif stack. Which fonts are in the stack may change as we're realizing the current stack isn't optimal for all of our sites, both technically and for design reasons.
- Colors can be customized to a degree (and many have been adjusted through this process). This includes buttons, OP indicator boxes, link colors (visited/unvisited), voting arrow colors, tag colors (background & text), question titles (in the questions list, not on question pages).
So, if you think the new logo is horrible, start an EL&U Meta question about it here and come up with a solution - it doesn't have to be a perfectly-rendered drawing of what it should look like. If the top banner is too plain and you'd like some artwork up there, or in the footer, same thing. Have a discussion about what sort of thing you'd like to see there.
As it relates to other things like the mixture of serif and sans-serif fonts, the choice of fonts, the sizing of the headings - these aren't going to change at this point and, while we may revisit some of them in the future, we're not going to be able to do that this year, particularly not before Friday.
So, thanks for listening, thanks for taking the time to care about the site. It means a lot that you do.