You might have seen the featured post Rollout of new network site themes on Meta Stack Exchange already, but here are the relevant parts for Ask Ubuntu again:

As mentioned on meta.stackexchange.com several months ago, all network sites will be getting updated themes. Ask Ubuntu is one of the first sites that will be updated. As such, I'm posting the design here so you can see how the new theming will be applied to your site.

I want to acknowledge that this will be a painful change for sites that have rich, custom themes. I want to reinforce that the theme changes are a required step to deliver ongoing value to the sites with as little friction as possible. We released changes for tag watching (aka favorite tags) this week and will be releasing a beta of custom question list functionality soon. The only way to make sure Q&A improvements are quickly available to all Q&A sites is to fix our themes.

To recap from the original post on themes:

Every Q&A site has its own theme. But there is great inequality in the level of theming that we support. A few (~10) get Cadillac treatment, some (<50) are more like a Honda, while most (~100) are a Yugo. The reality is we created a theming system that we didn't have the design resources to fully support, thus the inequity. In addition, as currently defined, our theming gets in the way of releasing new features on the sites.

In order to deliver the left nav, responsive design and future improvements to all sites we've created a more standardized way to support theming. This will reduce the burden of supporting designs as we make Q&A improvements. The result is that most sites will see an improvement in the level of theming that they can get. While some sites will see a reduction. All of Q&A (Enterprise, Teams, etc) will standardize on this new theming scheme.

- Ch-ch-ch-changes: Left nav, responsive design, & themes

Next steps


  • Early July: Collect and respond to feedback from this post
  • Late July: Update the site


Please review the mockups and feel free to provide constructive feedback in answers below. We aren't going to revisit the choices we've made around simplification, so it would be more productive to keep feedback focused on the application of the new theme scheme.

Note: I'm leaving on vacation later today, but didn't want to delay getting these designs posted. As such, I'll have limited time/ability to respond to feedback and comments until I return.

Enough talk, show me the money

You can click on the mockups below to see the image in a larger format.

One special note, the current Ask Ubuntu them sports an extra "top bar" that provides navigation to other Ubuntu sites. We are dropping support for this bar in our new theme. The application of this bar is inconsistent across the Ubuntu sites and it is lightly used on AU.

Ask Ubuntu

Ask Ubuntu home page

Ask Ubuntu question page

  • 1
    status-completed? ;-)
    – EKons
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 19:17
  • 1
    @karel no, because they focus on different things. This one was the "A new theme is coming soon"; the other is "The theme is now deployed, report bugs and issues". Personally, I would decline a merge flag in this case.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 17:11

5 Answers 5


I myself would not mind if the bottom was less high. There should be enough room to make rows 2 and lower into 6 colums making it almost 1/2 the size. Never going to happen I know ;-)

The orange bar is useless like this. The black bar could be orange and have the AskUbuntu logo in it (where the stackexchange logo could go 1st or 2nd next to the AskUbuntu logo and the search could move a bit to the right).

If this makes the titles take up 2 lines on a less wide screen I am not going to be happy though (removing 1 of the 2 bars would make room for 1 or 2 more questions).

  • 5
    It's hard to tell from the picture, but I think the footer hasn't actually been made any bigger, if you look at how big it is now. I agree with your points about the orange bar though. It looks really bad right now with all that empty space there. Not to mention all the wasted space in the sidebar.
    – Seth
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 1:18
  • 1
    Those changes are network wide, and I strongly think they will not address them, at least not in this post. Also, the top bar (the Ubuntu sites navigation bar) is going to be dropped, so that's a quite a bit of extra vertical space already.
    – Dan
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 6:46
  • 1
    @Seth oh that's correct but I always thought it was too high :D :D Had to sneak it in there :D
    – Rinzwind
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 6:55
  • 2
    @Dan It is? I didn't see that in the post. That's really not cool..
    – Seth
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 17:58
  • I like the top bar more than the bottom bar. The header is intrinsically more important than the footer. Outright removing one without at least hide until scroll the other seems very very odd. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 2:42
  • 1
    that's the end of circle answer accepted, square will take this place, too bad :(
    – damadam
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 13:05
  • @Seth not to play the designer's advocate here (I am a developer, after all, not a designer) but whitespace also makes sense sometimes. I know for sure that developers often tend to try and cover every pixel with something, forgetting to leave space so the content can breath. IMHO the bar is not that bad. Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 15:10
  • @Rinzwind As mentioned by others, footer is unchanged in terms of size. Stack Exchange top bar (the black one) is cross-site and can't be integrated with the site branding (orange one on AU).
    – Joe Friend
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 21:40

Like Rinzwind also already noted in his answer, the huge orange top bar is now mainly useless and empty. While I see that this is how it's supposed to be to match the new overall theme structure, it could be prettified a bit while still staying within the capabilities of the new theme.

Other sites have their top bar customized to not show a single plain solid color, but e.g. a gradient with simple shapes (compare e.g. Magento SE), some unobtrusive symbols, structures or objects on the right side only (compare e.g. Server Fault, Super User), across the whole top bar (compare e.g. Photography SE) or both (compare e.g. Mi Yodeya).

The screenshots linked above are taken from the official MSE posts Rollout of new network site themes and Ch-ch-ch-changes: Left nav, responsive design, & themes.

So, how about making the site look a but nicer and more unique by customizing our own top bar in a similar way?

If this proposal is appreciated, we could collect and vote on ideas what to do exactly in a separate question.

  • 1
    they can add some ubuntu logo in background or do a gradient color from orange to another one with more white color, but pretty sure it need some time to do a nice topbar
    – damadam
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 13:02
  • I'm happy to take some suggestions to our designers on how we can improve the design of the top bar for AU. Let me know if you all have some inspiration to provide to the designers.
    – Joe Friend
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 21:41

If you dislike having the space on the left-hand side of the page being used for navigation links, there is a Hide left navigation setting in the Stack Overflow site preferences which works well for maximizing screen real estate.* If you have already selected the Hide left navigation setting on Stack Overflow, the Ask Ubuntu site preferences will inherit this setting from Stack Overflow's site preferences. Depending on your work flow and monitor setup this could make the questions and answers easier to read.

How to hide the left navigation sidebar

  1. Click your reputation on the top bar.
  2. Click the Edit Profile & Settings tab.
  3. Click Preferences under SITE SETTINGS.
  4. Click the Hide left navigation checkbox.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Correct, this works on any network site. You have to set it individually for each site you visit, because the devs think a giant sidebar is more useful than global preferences.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 22:12
  • 1
    @tim Not true. The preference for the left nav is now global along with top bar stickiness and keyboard shortcuts. This was done in response to feedback.
    – Joe Friend
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 21:42
  • 2
    @JoeFriend ahh my bad, thank you for that.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 21:45

Date/Time stamps should be standardised or localised.

Currently a non-standard format is used: "mmm d 'yy hh:mm":
enter image description here

Recommend international standard ISO 8601: "yyyy-mm-ddThh:mm:ssTZ"
Or something close/similar to this standard.

Time delimiter (T):

Time Zone designator (TZ) UTC Offset:
<time>Z (UTC ± Zero)
<time>±hh:mm (UTC ± hh:mm)
<time>±hhmm (UTC ± hhmm)
<time>±hh (UTC ± hh)

  • 1
    Is second really useful? Using the standard date/time ISO 8601 is a really good idea, but I don't think that we will need seconds on a forum
    – damadam
    Commented Jul 20, 2018 at 9:29
  • 2
  • 1
    @Melebius Thanks. I'm sad and disheartened to see that this suggestion was submitted over 4 years ago, and still no action! sad-face! Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 7:46
  • 3
    Note that each timestamp already has a tooltip (title attribute) that uses this format, with the exception of replacing “T” with a space. And if seeing that format on hover isn’t enough, it would be possible to write a user script to replace the timestamps with the text from their title attributes. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 0:41

I just have a question about the placement of advertisements; will it be changed?

Because while some of us don't care, or care little about that because we have sufficient reputation which removes these ads, but will it render well for new/low reputation members?

I ask this question in particular about the top one.

And probably a space on the left will be used too.

  • There is a minor change in the location of the top ad with the new theme due to our support of responsiveness. There may be future changes, but none are planned for now.
    – Joe Friend
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 21:44

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