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It's been a while since we've talked about the Site Design and where Mechanics is at in the process. I think I've found some interesting information which you may or may not be interested in.

This post on Meta.SE shows progress towards what's going on. It seems SE is doing a complete revamp of how the site themes work, load, and look. This affects all of the sites throughout SE. Mechanics will not see work happen on a site design until they get things figured out, which if you think about it, makes sense. They don't want to redo work.

Here's the gist of what they've said at this point:

Site theme standardization investigation: As the investigation on navigation improvements and responsive design progressed, we realized that the current level of theming for some graduated network sites creates a lot of fragility. While most sites have limited theming, a few sites are extensively themed. We evaluated some approaches to theming last month and this month we will engage with the community the future of theming on network sites. The short version is we want to continue supporting individual site themes, but we need to pare down what can be customized so that we can have a consistent experience, a single code base with less fragility and a quicker path to deploying core improvements across the network. We will be communicating later this month more details on the impact and timing of the next steps in this area.

They are supposed to be producing monthly updates concerning different things they are working on throughout SE, so I'll try to keep you updated. Hope this helps your understanding of what's going on.

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This Meta post from late April suggests that in late June we will get an outline and a timeline for sites without a custom design, and that July is when things will start rolling for sites without a custom design.

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  • I see that as well ... though it states "Outline process and timeline ...", which means to me we won't see any action towards the site design itself, but rather, we'll know what the general process is towards getting one. Personally, with as much time as we've been waiting and hoping for a site design, this is a good sign, but I'm still not holding my breath. I'd expect to see actual movement on it to the "July and beyond" ... Yah, heavy emphasis on the "beyond" part. We'll see. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 29 '18 at 11:55
  • They didn't specify which July... – tlhIngan Apr 30 '18 at 16:56
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Here is a link to the January 2018 updates.

Pertinent updates from January as to design efforts:

  • Ask a Question Template experiment
  • Review Queue Indicator Improvements. Updates seen:

    • Made the top bar the same height across all sites (including SO)
    • Fixed middle click behavior on the icons
    • Added relevant links to inbox and review queue menus
    • Brought back the bounce to the indicators on the icons
    • Toned down colors to reduce emphasis on the search box
    • Omnipresent help icon
  • Site theme standardization investigation (as noted in the question above).
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I'm being a lazy ... I've copied the contents of the Meta post, which can be found here.- Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2

February 2018

Done

Newsletter infrastructure update: You may have noticed that control of your newsletter subscriptions have moved to your local profile from SE.com. (see newsletter settings image) This is a part of moving most SE.com functionality into the core code and enabling these same features for channels.

Improvements in sign up flow: We made a change to our sign up flow. The job status question is now required. The result is that everyone declares their interest (actively looking, open, not interested) and we don't bother folks who aren't interested in jobs.

Documentations rep freeze: The sun has completely set on documentation. Any rep you received is frozen which means we are removing documentation code including the code that calculated rep. Removing unused code is a good thing. We're doing a lot of that these days to make our lives easier. Move along now. Not much to see here.

Channels features: Most of you won't see these changes yet, but we rolled out a number of improvements for our Channels alpha users including improvements to help provide better context for when you're "in" a channel, mobile skin support for channels, ability to retarget a question to your private channel versus public Stack Overflow, and so much more.


In progress

Responsive design: We are actively implementing responsive design for question pages and question list pages. One of the first steps was to remove the tables from the comments on question pages. Comments are now list items. Sorry if the rapid changes break userscripts but it's for the better.

Tag subscriptions: Last month we wrapped up some architecture work for this feature, finished our UX specs and gathered feedback in some user research sessions. This month we will get it working for channels and hopefully test the changes on one of our public communities.

Response to top bar feedback pt 2: We are wrapping up the final top bar fix based on your feedback. Soon the Inbox, Achievements, Review queue and site switcher menus will progressively render so that people on slow connections have a better experience. (This work was postponed from last month)

Facebook auth updates: Facebook is updating their auth requirements and we need to comply. If everything goes right you won't notice a thing. (This work was postponed from last month)


Starting in February

Each of the items below describes some work that is planned for the coming month. As needed, we will directly engage the community to help shape the work.

Question list improvements: We are doing work to unify the various question list views based on data from actual usage. This will provide a solid foundation for us to work from so that we can reintroduce some form of the functionality that used to be called New Nav.

User satisfaction survey: Understanding user satisfaction levels based on quarterly user satisfaction survey is an important data point for most sites. In the past we have relied exclusively on anecdotal feedback to evaluate satisfaction. This month we will be building an automated system to randomly select users and prompt them via email to fill out a survey. This system will be tested on channels alpha users and will be expanded to others over time.

Ask a Question template v2: Read about the results from our AaQ template v1 experiment. We are sketching and prototyping a few approaches inspired from community feedback and hope to start building a version 2 experiment to run later this month or early in March.

Channels features: TeamDAG continues to add a bunch of features for channels including improved themes, channel health dashboard, tag improvements and cleaning up a variety of features from public SO that aren't needed in channels.

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March 2018

Done

Responsive design pt1: Implemented question pages and question list pages. One of the first steps was to remove the tables from the comments on question pages. Comments are now list items. Sorry if the rapid changes break userscripts but it's for the better.

Facebook auth updates: Facebook is updating their auth requirements and we need to comply. If you haven't noticed anything by now, we did it right.

Question list improvements: Finished work to unify the various question list views based on data from actual usage. This will provide a solid foundation for us to work from so that we can reintroduce some form of the functionality that used to be called New Nav. (NOTE: This work is done but not yet deployed to public SO. We will roll this out along with coming nav changes and Custom fav searches (see below))

Teams (aka Channels) features: Most of you won't see these changes yet, but we rolled out a number of improvements for our Teams alpha users including team themes (works on mobile skin too), top bar now shows your team rep when you're on a team page, improvements for question lists, and a bunch of clean up work so that features are appropriately contextualized for Teams.


In progress

Responsive design pt2: We are cleaning up the long tail of issues on question pages and question list pages. Next up are Ask a Question experience, tags, users, and search.

Tag subscriptions: Almost done with this work for Teams and will be extending the improvements to public SO. Release will be in April.

User satisfaction survey: Understanding user satisfaction levels based on quarterly user satisfaction survey is an important data point for most sites. In the past we have relied exclusively on anecdotal feedback to evaluate satisfaction. This month we will be building an automated system to randomly select users and prompt them via email to fill out a survey. This system will be tested on Teams alpha users and will be expanded to others over time.


Starting in March

Each of the items below describes some work that is planned for the coming month. As needed, we will directly engage the community to help shape the work.

Custom favorite searches: We are in the design phase on this one. Goal is to reintroduce some form of the functionality that used to be called New Nav.

AaQ dupe finder: We are working on a prototype that redirects a question asker to look for existing question/answers first. We are working on rolling out the prototype in an experiment. This idea came out of the Ask a Question conversations earlier and replaces the "Ask a Question template v2" work for now, though we will come back to that experiment in the near future.

Teams features: TeamDAG continues to add a bunch of features for Teams including improved tag management, activity indicator, Teams product page, improved Teams emails.


Postponed

Response to top bar feedback pt 2: We will pick this work back up after Teams is out the door. To Do: Inbox, Achievements, Review queue and site switcher menus will progressively render so that people on slow connections have a better experience.

Ask a Question template v2: Read about the results from our AaQ template v1 experiment. We are sketching and prototyping a few approaches inspired from community feedback and hope to start building a version 2 experiment to run later.

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April 2018

Done in March

Responsive design pt2: Speced out the changes for Ask a Question experience. Implemented search, tags and users pages. Also, worked out how what adjustments need to be made to support ads with our responsive design.

OpenID deprecation: Announced the deprecation plan. Removed the ability to create new accounts with external OpenID providers (Yahoo, AOL, Blogger, Live Journal and Steam). Added the ability for existing users to add email/pw login option for their current account. Fleshed out the rest of the plan through July end of support date.

Teams features: We rolled out a number of improvements for our Teams alpha users including improvements for tags, emails, new question notification, and team newsletter prefs.

Quack Overflow: April Fools has come and gone, but Quack Overflow will live on in our hearts and this Rubber Ducking Wikipedia page (thanks for whoever did that!).

Top bar for Enterprise customers: Moved the SO top bar to Stack Overflow for Enterprise.

Sponsorship pilot: DAG provided support for the sponsorship pilot that was announced last month.


In progress

Responsive design pt3: Implementing Ask a Question page and support for ads. Fixing lots of bugs. Target is to release to Teams users.

Tag subscriptions: We are almost done with this work for Teams, really. Should launch to team's users real soon now. This month we will begin making sure it will scale to SO.com.

Custom question lists (aka Custom favorite searches): Finished spec and designs for adding support for filter and sort controls to all question lists and the ability to save custom question list views. Ran user testing on the designs. All clear to start implementation. Goal is to reintroduce some form of the functionality that used to be called New Nav.

User satisfaction survey: Understanding user satisfaction levels based on quarterly user satisfaction survey is an important data point for most sites. In the past we have relied exclusively on anecdotal feedback to evaluate satisfaction. This month we will be building an automated system to randomly select users and prompt them via email to fill out a survey. This system will be tested on Teams alpha users and will be expanded to others over time.


Starting in April

Each of the items below describes some work that is planned for the coming month. As needed, we will directly engage the community to help shape the work.

Network site themes: As mentioned in the ch-ch-ch-changes post we are simplifying our themes. Goal for this month is to get the infrastructure plugged in, design themes for 10+ of our most highly themed/highly traffic sites, gather feedback from those communities and lock down the roll out plan for the May/June.

Teams features: TeamDAG continues to add a bunch of features for Teams including Left nav improvements, inline mentions, testing automation, a ton of clean up items and Teams product page/launch support.

AaQ dupe finder/question wizard: We made limited progress on this front, but things are picking up steam and we are planning to have a prototype ready for community feedback this month.

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