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.


  • 1
    Could you do us a favor and go back through the original thread, and leave a comment on each answer telling us which parts are up for discussion? Don't bother mentioning which ones aren't up for discussion; if you don't mention it, we'll assume we can't ask you to change it right now. I ask for this because I don't want to throw away all the effort that went into that thread like it never happened, ad if we just start with a blank slate, we'll end up just recreating that thread, excepting the specific items you've excluded in this post.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 21:46
  • 3
    I can try... and I've marked some of them with status tags... The difficulty is that many of the answers there address sometimes dozens of issues, so it'd be very difficult to follow. I probably should have asked for each issue or group of concerns to be in its own post.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 21:48
  • 3
    Congratulations on the birth of your second son, he looks like a real sweetie!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 1:23
  • 1
    @DanBron why edit a post that cannot be viewed in its default page? Best summarise what can be improved/changed/tweaked here on this page and it's my understanding there's not that much. For details see the post above.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 1:24
  • 1
    I wish I could +1 to give you an extra hour of sleep.
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 1:47
  • I think the only support you can have from users is: let’s move forward!
    – user 66974
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 17:53
  • Congratulations on the birth of your second son! How time flies - I think I just met you at the ELL.SE chat room around the time of your first. All the best with adjusting to having a second child. I’m sure it’ll soon feel as if you’ve always had both of them around! :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 9:54
  • “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.” That statement is misleading. Initially, the robot had been discarded from the new theme by the designers.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 10:42
  • Worldbuilding started a campaign to save their mascotte, and it was because of the post on MSE and on their meta site that they were successful. The Stack Exchange team was in the awkward position of being the "bad guy" they had no choice but to concede. So there was no "we were sure to incorporate it" because there was no robot planned in the updated theme.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 10:42
  • @Mari-LouA it's only misleading because my quote is out of context. The source of the quote, which I explicitly encourage y'all to read, links to their campaign to save the robot. I'm trying to act in good faith here.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 12:18
  • The link which precedes the quote leads users to the Worldbuilding website not to their campaign. There are many links on your post, and rest assured I have done my utmost best to keep abreast of the changes implemented by SE since the new design was launched.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 12:27
  • @Catija please could you update us on the current mobile plan? Is there a way to see a (really broad) roadmap of projects the developers are thinking about/working on? Even something like 'we're focussing on improving onboarding' or 'reviews' or something would be nice to know :) Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 19:18
  • @marcellothearcane "Mobile plan"? I'm not quite sure what you mean about that... this question doesn't have anything to do with a mobile theme.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 20:46
  • This mentions responsive design, which I assumed included the mobile site. I've started disabling the mobile version, due to things like review queues... I've asked before about design, but never get a great response from the devs, so it feels like it's not worth bothering people about things they aren't planning on doing. Is there going to be design and feature updates on the blue mobile site for instance? Will review queues be made mobile friendly? All updates appreciated :) Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 21:24
  • 1
    @marcellothearcane The responsive design is the current design of the site. Some of the pages aren't responsive but it's a full site design, not a mobile theme. If you have questions, please ask them on Meta Stack Exchange where they can be seen by anyone who cares to know the answer rather than in an unrelated question on a child meta. Thanks!
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 2, 2019 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


My original post misunderstood the purpose of this question. I've since moved most of that content to a new question, but I'm leaving this here as I think some of the discussion in comments is useful for understanding the process going forward.

  • Please see the comments under Mari-Lou's answer... y'all really need to have these discussions as questions with answers that suggest a variety of alternative solutions you can discuss and vote on. Having them as answers here really limits your ability to come to consensus and refine the ideas. Please post this as a new question like the one I linked to on Meta DBA. So, in your case, start a "Should we have an image in our header and, if so, what should it be?" discussion.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 22:27
  • 1
    OK, I misunderstood. Could you perhaps state very clearly in your question what you want answers to look like here? Or is this not actually a question, just an announcement of some sort? I'm used to questions on Meta identifying a problem and then inviting answers of some sort, with consensus reached by commenting and voting on the answers. Are you suggesting that every possible solution should be a separate question? What would answers to those questions/proposals look like?
    – 1006a
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 22:31
  • It's mostly an announcement. If someone had a question about the process or commentary on the question, that'd be fine as an answer. Have you looked at the DBA example? dba.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3077/… That's pretty much exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about... there's another one on SFF with answers that aren't quite as refined.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 22:35
  • Questions aren't solutions they're identifications of problems. For example, the suggested title I gave you isn't "here's the solution to the problem" it's "here's a problem I see, what should we do about it?" The question outlines the problem you see and you let the answers suggest possible solutions. Here's another example on QC, discussing redesigns of their logo. quantumcomputing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/89/…
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 22:39
  • 1
    I'll see what I can do. This seems like the kind of thing that should be coming from mods, though—if there are specific elements where our input is welcome, it would be very helpful if TPTB could post a question identifying and asking for input on those (or a separate question for each). That's what I thought this question was. Otherwise you're liable to get a very general "the new site theme sucks, how can we patch it up" and/or questions about elements that can't change (like fonts)...or else a deafening silence from people who feel like all their effort in previous Meta posts is for naught.
    – 1006a
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 22:55
  • The quoted text in my question is that list of things that we can change if you think it needs to be changed. The other answer here is, essentially, "the new site theme sucks, fix it" but telling us to fix it - well, we tried to fix it and y'all still hated it. We can't fix it if we don't know what y'all would consider an improvement. We could redesign it a dozen times and you still wouldn't be happy... but if y'all think of something you like, we can make a design that uses what you like and fits our limitations. And if you have questions about what can be customized, you can ask that here.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:02
  • Yes, I understand the list. That's why I thought this was a question: I thought you were saying "we know you don't love the new theme; here is a list of things we can't change and some things we can change; what would be an improvement?" That seemed like a great, productive approach to the previous conflict. But instead it seems you want us to repeat your post and ask for/offer suggestions elsewhere. I can do that, it just seems weird that the question(s) would come from me.
    – 1006a
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:08
  • If all of those suggestions came here on this one post, that'd be confusing quite quickly... we could have two different suggestions for what to put in the banner, four suggestions for new logos, a discussion of changing the color scheme, and a couple of "this is awful but I don't know what to do" posts. It's really messy. It's much neater and cleaner to have separate discussions for each design element. 1. "Our banner is plain, should we add some artwork to it? If so, what should it be? 2. The logo design only works when centered, what would we like instead.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:21
  • Who asks the questions is not important. The important thing is that y'all care about this site and want the appearance to be better than it is. As I said, if you're not sure whether something can be customized, feel free to ask. I'm happy to check with the designers.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:23
  • @Catija Didn't you see all the problems pointed out by tchrist at Updated site theme ready for testing ?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:44
  • @Catija Oh, sorry, yes I see you have. Are you suggesting that all that needs to be reformatted and revoted on? I think you really need to have your UI team (person?) hire tchrist to just do the fixes.
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:51
  • The issues that he brought up, @Mitch, are network-wide and don't pertain to this site alone. The fonts we've chosen to use have been chosen for a specific reason. They may not be perfect but right now we have two font stacks to choose from. That may change in the future but we have a lot of work to do to finish the pages that aren't responsive - like profile pages and the review queues. Much of this has been explained here.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 23:57

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