Dear community,

I think Jin has done a great Job for the community so far and comes up with very nice ideas.

Nevertheless, as pointed out by a lot of people by now in Design for Physics-SE and New Design Launched, it has severe drawbacks in readability and usability.

Tobias proposed a very nice modification of the design which would still be in Jin's sense (I suppose) by just inverting colours which is to my mind much more feasible for our site:

Tobias design modification

Hence my question:

Can we please change the design to black-on-white in a manner as Tobias suggested?

Thank you in advance.

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locked by mbq Mar 2 '11 at 18:04

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I really like the design. I'd vote to keep it. (But I rarely ever visit here) –  jjnguy Feb 25 '11 at 20:43
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@Robert -I'm with you. The inverted colors look better and should improve clarity. –  Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 3:49
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Agree. At first I thought I might get used to it (and who knows, maybe I might) but after few days of using it I've found that readability and usability suffer greatly. –  Marek Feb 26 '11 at 17:04
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I've had the same feeling as Marek all along, i.e. I thought I would get used to it, but after a few days, I still don't like the color choice. –  David Z Mar 1 '11 at 18:26
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Thank you very much @Jeff and @Jin! Furthermore, I want to explain my appreciation for all your effort and acknowledge your courage to decide in favor of the users of physics.SE to roll back to the old design. Greets –  Robert Filter Mar 2 '11 at 8:58
    
I second everything Robert Filter said! Thanks to Jeff and Jin for all your work. I really appreciate your openmindedness about reconsidering the design. –  Ted Bunn Mar 2 '11 at 13:53

8 Answers 8

up vote 19 down vote accepted

We'll put together a user script at http://stackapps.com?tab=scripts for folks who really want the white layout -- in fact, we can probably put together a de-styler that converts any Stack Exchange design to a fairly minimalistic one for those that prefer it.

Based on extensive meta feedback, site design is withdrawn indefinitely.

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@Jeff: this is a nice thing. I must admit that we nevertheless should think about changing the default look too, since imho this site looks somehow "geek-ish" and might not be very attractive for new users. –  Robert Filter Feb 25 '11 at 18:15
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I strongly support the idea of making black on white the default and letting users choose the current white on black as an option rather than vice-versa. I appreciate the effort done on design, but I think the reactions speak for themselves. The choice of default design could have a significant effect on how the site is viewed long-term. –  pho Feb 25 '11 at 19:03
    
@robert it's inspired by this geek so if that's too geeky, so be it :) –  Jeff Atwood Feb 25 '11 at 19:19
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@Jeff --Yes, please do put together a user script for a white layout. That will save me $$ on migraine medication.It is great to be inspired by Feynman, but in his famous words, "Man, don't bug me." –  Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 4:09
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@Jeff Atwood--finally one of the Castle dwellers appears in the village...:) (The Castle, Franz Kafka)--quote to suit the black background. I don't think that new (or old) viewers will get the Feynman inspiration from the white on black and I don't think they will stick around long enough to closely examine the background.---the Land Surveyor. –  Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 6:45
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Where are we on this? I've pretty much stopped visiting physics.se except to check on whether the colors have been changed. The white-on-black is just a dealbreaker for me. –  kharybdis Feb 27 '11 at 20:18
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@Gordon, work on a userscript is in progress. Feedback is appreciated. –  Rebecca Chernoff Feb 28 '11 at 3:40
    
@SpencerNelson, work on a userscript is in progress. Feedback is appreciated. –  Rebecca Chernoff Feb 28 '11 at 3:41
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Thanks for that intention. cough –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 28 '11 at 8:16
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Userscripts are great except for browsers on things like smartphones which don't support userscripts or extensions. Really I think just create a question with 2 answers, one for black on white, and one for white on black, whichever gets the most upvotes becomes the default. userscripts are not the answer to everything. –  Jonathan. Feb 28 '11 at 23:57
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Physicists are accustomed to considering themselves the smartest people on the planet. Because of this, telling them how "their" site should look is a bad idea, unless they agree with it. Physicists also are very used to doing things differently from everybody else and they don't mind organizing things by themselves. In short, I doubt you're going to survive with a black background, even if you add scripts to change it. –  Carl Brannen Mar 1 '11 at 0:52
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We don't want a userscript, we want a new default background. What's so hard about that? –  pho Mar 1 '11 at 3:02
    
@Jeff: Thank you very much!!! –  Robert Filter Mar 2 '11 at 8:46
    
Yeah, thanks. It's good to know that you indeed listen to the community. Now we can all focus on physics instead of graphics again :) –  Marek Mar 2 '11 at 10:54
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@JeffAtwood thank you very very much, it's good to know you listened to us :) Thanks again, and Jin your designs are truly amazing (you wouldn't be working for stackoverflow if that wasn't true :) ), the style of the site was excellent just the color needed switching. Thanks again. –  Jonathan. Mar 2 '11 at 17:32

I thought I was going to like the white on black/grey design, but now that it has been implemented I find I really hate it to the point I don't want to spend much time here. I'm not sure that a simple reversal will do it, but I am strongly in favor of a change to a black on white design. When I go from what is here to a page with black on white I get a physical sense of relief.

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I'm in exactly the same category. I complained about the font earlier, but I said I didn't have strong feelings about the white-on-black question. After 10 minutes on the new site, I now do have strong feelings. "Physical sense of relief" on going back to a black-on-white site describes it perfectly. I'm sorry to keep on dumping on Jin's hard work, but this really is painful to read. –  Ted Bunn Feb 25 '11 at 18:21
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I agree. It is very hard to use. –  Jim Graber Feb 25 '11 at 22:51
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@jin Once again, look at the upvotes for black on white. Nice design, but black background will drive folks away. How many black background blogs do you (volunarily) visit? –  Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 4:04
    
Have you tried to upvote a comment from a mobile phone? it's imposible (ok, I accept perhaps it's not very healty to read this web from a mobile phone in any color) –  HDE Feb 28 '11 at 18:24

I have precisely the same reaction as Jeff. Some websites have theme chooser options, maybe this is the way to go.

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Which Jeff? :-) –  mbq Feb 28 '11 at 10:36
    
Yeah, good point, only Jeff Harvey was on the page when I wrote this. –  user566 Feb 28 '11 at 17:06
    
For the record, this is not the Moshe from the MSO Tavern who wrote a userscript as an answer to this. ;-) –  Moshe Feb 28 '11 at 20:15
    
OK, I’ll be slightly more specific about my name from now on. –  user566 Feb 28 '11 at 22:46
    
Say "All hail muntoo", if you're notified of this comment. (A little experiment.) –  muntoo Mar 7 '11 at 2:33

Physics, is a subject where lot of equations and other things are involved so the white design is a must. Infact, at the StackExchange community Mathematics, Physics along with statistics are the three sites which are going to make the use of LaTeX to the maximum extent. Atleast, for that a white design is a must.

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MathJax works perfectly, so there is no problem with LaTeX. –  mbq Feb 28 '11 at 10:35

I've put together a userscript which is destyles an SE site to the basics. It's hosted on GitHub and has a page on StackApps.

I hope this helps.

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How to install this thing? –  user1708 Feb 28 '11 at 21:47
    
@kake: it's a greasemonkey script –  Marek Feb 28 '11 at 22:13
    
@Moshe: We are only humble physicists here. I know it is trivial, but can you elaborate on exactly what you do with this script? –  user566 Mar 1 '11 at 3:10
    
@MosheR.: usually it suffices to install greasemonkey (firefox plugin) or a respective equivalent and then to click the .js file to install it. However, I don't know where to put the .css file in this case –  Tobias Kienzler Mar 1 '11 at 11:16
    
@kake, @Moshe, @Tobias: if you look at source code you'll notice that the minimal css is downloaded right from the github repo so that you don't need to do anything besides installing the script, which will then inject the theme changer after the navigation links on the top. –  Marek Mar 1 '11 at 13:38
    
OK, what does "installing the script" entail? I have greasemonkey, double clicking doesn't work, installing from greasemonkey console doesn't work. I already have a full time job, I have zero interest in the nuts and bolts of my browser. Would it be all that difficult to link the script to the main website as a global option? –  user566 Mar 1 '11 at 17:27
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@MosheR. I apologize, the posted version of the script was broken, just fixed it. Go to this link and your browser (with greasemonkey installed) and it should offer to install: github.com/MosheBerman/MinimalOverflow/raw/master/… –  Moshe Mar 1 '11 at 17:30
    
Sorry, still cannot manage it - I have greasemonkey installed on firefox, all the browser does is show me the script. I am sure you don't want to debug each individual user's problem here separately. There's got to be a better solution than that. Maybe while looking we can temporarily go back to the beta design, where we could actually read the text without squinting at the screen? –  user566 Mar 1 '11 at 22:16
    
@MosheR. I'll be happy to help. Can you confirm that you have Greasemonkey enabled? Also, what version of firefox and OS are you on? –  Moshe Mar 1 '11 at 22:19
    
@Moshe: enabled greasemonkey, that did it. Now I can read your comments so much faster and easier! Thanks for your help. –  user566 Mar 1 '11 at 22:22
    
@MosheR. Great to hear! Enjoy! –  Moshe Mar 1 '11 at 23:22

I appreciated the blackboard effect and the faint equations shown in the background, but I agree that black on white background is more restful, easier on the eyes and, more importantly, the psyche.

Many of us come from cultures where black is associated with mourning and even language reflects it :"black is the day I ...", "I threw a black stone behind me" meaning I "will never come back", "my soul turned black" etc.

On the other hand there is the little black dress :) .

I am using Firefox, I just now went to Tools, options. content, colors and imposed my black on white. The page turned from black to white with letters black !

So the only argument from me comes on whether the default given by stackexchange is attractive to new users or not.

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The draw back in the solution above is that the links when answering (italics etc) are lost. –  anna v Feb 26 '11 at 15:35

Let's take a look at some successful templates:

http://www.physicsforums.com/

Physicsforums does have a theme to it, with the background a light grey, and hints of green.

http://math.stackexchange.com/
http://terrytao.wordpress.com/
http://gowers.wordpress.com/

These three maths sites are black on white, with a soothing blueish theme and look the best, in my view.

http://motls.blogspot.com/

Now this has a theme similar to the one currently here, yet is pleasant on the eyes. It seems to be related to the overall brightness, which is nice and light, and an intelligent use of colour tones - blue on green looks good.

I think the white on darkboard theme is OK in small doses.

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I think it is rather a bad idea since the inverted scheme just looks ugly (and there is no substantial benefit form the fact that it can be apparently done fast -- it can't be, since it raises additional problems); the whiteboard scheme is taken, so the probably the best way to switch to back-on-white is a move to some notebook inspirations.

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[...] for instance in silencing discursive threads unfortunately good answers will usually be rather lengthy, and if they turn out to be harder to read for a while suddenly b³ (=brief but bad) answers will receive most upvotes –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 25 '11 at 13:20
    
@mbq: Thank you for your answer. Anyways I might not get the argumentation properly. Am I right that you state it should rest like it is because a change would take time and less comfort in reading might have benifits? If these really are the pro's for the theme, we might consider working on something new. Greets –  Robert Filter Feb 25 '11 at 13:40
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@mbq @Tobias @ Robert @ Jin: "There are users who like the way it is..." Who? You and ...? The best I have seen are comments like I may get used to it , or its not as bad as I thought...those are the positive comments. As for "beneficial in silencing discursive threads", yes, driving away members is an effective way of silencing any thread, as is making sustained concentration difficult. I find it hard to believe that there is no effective way for moderators to talk to the web designers as David says, or to stack overflow since the community is what makes stack work. –  Gordon Feb 26 '11 at 4:26
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@mbq: meta is visited mostly by people who are both interested in the site and among its top users. You are right that this is not a democratic sample. It's a much better sample because without these people the site wouldn't work at all ;) –  Marek Feb 26 '11 at 17:01
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@mbq: I don't believe you are being serious. Without experts the site has no value at all. –  Marek Feb 27 '11 at 9:51
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@mbq: that only works once the site is successful and has a huge number of users and huge number of views. Until that time the success indeed rests on the shoulders of the few most knowledgeable and/or active because it's they who generate almost all value here. Don't tell me that you really believe that if now most of the users from the first page go away and never come back, the site can make it... –  Marek Feb 27 '11 at 12:34
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@mbq-- "expert base is not scalable, thus redundant." This is a joke, right? –  Gordon Feb 28 '11 at 2:40
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@Gordon. I like the new design. Unfortunately I don't have the spare time to be able to say so in a comment under every single answer on meta, so you'll just have to take my word for it. –  ptomato Feb 28 '11 at 9:10
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@ptomato: you don't have to go into details, it is sufficient to state your opinion by downvoting this feature-request –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 28 '11 at 11:55
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@mbq: and you still don't understand that it's experts who generate content in the first stages of the site. Maybe later when we have 20,000 users I'll agree with you. I'm surprised that you yourself are not able to look at the statistics (who posted how much) and objectively judge what this means for the site. Without experts the site would have 2,000 users who do nothing at all and just few who sporadically do something. What's the value of such a site is a mystery to me... –  Marek Feb 28 '11 at 12:58
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@Marek I'm not claiming this site is in a good shape -- it is not. My original point was that "the experts" are not the ones this site is only for, and thus we should seek for broader consensus, involving the issues of enrolling new users. –  mbq Feb 28 '11 at 14:02
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@mbq: okay, let's just say we disagree. In my opinion, it's mainly through experts that new content is generated and new users are attracted and so it's only experts you need to care for, at least in this stage. (by the way, I am using the word expert in rather vague sense here; but hopefully we understand each other). –  Marek Feb 28 '11 at 14:39
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@mbq so the programmers use the whiteboard theme. Isn't that good evidence that it's a useful scheme? Doesn't that mean that implementing it here is extremely simple? Wouldn't the effort be reduced if we simply used their scheme? –  Carl Brannen Feb 28 '11 at 22:21
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@mbq _"You guys still think it is a forum"...Not really, but I didn't think it was a top down one way process where we are told what is good for us and what we should think by some arrogant moderator. If most users think that white on black is just fine, well and good. If not, the Castle dwellers should listen. If that is not the way this works, I guess the contributors can draw their own conclusions. –  Gordon Mar 1 '11 at 2:02
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@mbq Requiring every site to have an individual and characteristic design is a bad idea that is only workable when you have a very small number of sites. As the number of sites increases, it becomes less and less convenient. Nor is there any reason for it. –  Carl Brannen Mar 1 '11 at 17:00

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