I'm a user familiar with StackOverflow websites but it took me a while to locate the Ask Question button on Ask Ubuntu.

Reason: Insufficient contrast (as can be seen below). A single grey / translucent back background should fix the problem.

top right of askubuntu theme

  • 17
    Meh, I think they should incorporate your green free-hand circle into the design; makes it much more obvious.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 12:53
  • This is feature request, not a bug. Please offer some alternative, just saying "this is not good" is only half the way to make it better. Mockup of the alternative will greatly help as well.
    – Sha Dow Wiz Ard
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 12:58
  • @ShaDowWizArd: "A single grey / translucent back background should fix the problem."
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 13:02
  • @Matt fair enough, it should have been in a new paragraph IMO. Also, Mockup of the alternative will greatly help as well :)
    – Sha Dow Wiz Ard
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 13:10
  • I do kinda think the "Ask Question" button blends into the background a little too well. It should stand out a bit more.
    – Rocket
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 13:23
  • 2
    Umm.. Why is this a feature request? Isn't it more of a usability / design bug?
    – Sri
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 15:30
  • 2
    Not really. A bug would be the button not showing up. A feature request is to change the currently-working image to something slightly different.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:35
  • 2
    Re-opened this since this discussion is much more recent than the previous one. Previous one was closed as dupe of this post. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:39
  • I had a hard time finding it for my first question, that being said, I think it was because I was looking for it in the Orange bar.
    – Mateo
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 2:04
  • Here is the brand guidelines page about the dot pattern, design.ubuntu.com/assets/dot-patterns I'm not sure it fits well for the "Ask question" button.
    – Mateo
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 3:29
  • It also looks like the dots are meant to target developers, "Developer Dot Pattern for screen and print Dots are evenly spaced 6mm apart. This pattern should never be scaled up or down." So we don't even have the dot spacing right.
    – Mateo
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 3:38
  • For those intrested a user made a user CSS on this question here, meta.askubuntu.com/a/505/47291 so you can test how the placment of the "Ask question" in the top bar will look in everyday use, although it doesn't solve the problem for new users.
    – Mateo
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 16:51
  • meta.askubuntu.com/q/409/47291 It says to tag design feedback with bug tag, Are they still handling the design?
    – Mateo
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 17:37
  • I always thought a "feature request" was when you're requesting a new feature that isn't already available. Add question is an available feature but its button is hard to see thus a usability bug. But I can understand these things are subjective. ;-)
    – Sri
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 3:36
  • 1
    No change yet?? I had the same problem :)
    – d-_-b
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 22:06

6 Answers 6


It is fixed in new design

check it out


Here are some mock-ups, of what I was thinking would make the Ask question-
A- more visible
B- In line as a "tool" on the Main bar

My main point is that it seems to be more part of the side bar - then the top primary navigation.
When first searching where to ask a question, people look first to the primary horizontal navigation.

I visited many other Stack Exchange sites, and noticed the main difference is that they have "Ask question" in line with the main bar, below are examples that I feel have a good visibility of the Ask question,


Notice that they have varying design aesthetics, I think we can improve visibility of the button without sacrificing the look of the site.

Here is a mock-up, using the "Light aubergine" that is used to indicate a "consumer focus", http://design.ubuntu.com/assets/colour-palette

enter image description here

Note that we can keep more space between the orange bar and the questions, sometimes important notes appear in that space. The positioning over the darker color automatically improves contrast.

Or perhaps something more subtle - enter image description here

Here is an option based on the http://www.ubuntu.com/ site, enter image description here

  • 2
    The meta site "Ask question" really highlights the contrast issue, when making designs I sometimes turn them to B&W (monochrome) to make sure there is enough contrast. That combined with the positioning, "Ask question" is placed in a blind spot when you are looking in the area around the Ask Ubuntu logo and "Questions" daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/B/blind_spot.html so anyone with poor or partial sight literally won't see it when focusing on the left side of the page.
    – Mateo
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 2:29
  • Great mockups. I prefer the aubergine / purple options, goes well with the Ubuntu design guidelines.
    – Sri
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 10:59

If Some People Really Can't See It, It Needs To Be More Visible

If 1 in 20 people coming to the site to get help can't see the button they have to click to get help, that would make this an extremely serious bug.

We don't have to break the aesthetic feel of the site to change this. We can give the text itself more contrast. We could even have a notification bar appear at the top of the screen for new users (well, I think we could do this) reminding them that:

  1. Questions should be asked as questions. Answers should be posted as answers. (I'm not saying we should word it quite like that!)

  2. You can ask a question by pressing that button. When the user hovers the mouse pointer over the notification, the Ask Question button is highlighted.

In effect, this would achieve all the positive effects, and none of the negative effects, of actually having a green hand-drawn circle around the Ask Question button. ;-)

While decisions about this should be made to make the site accessible to users, that would not be the only benefit. Questions posted as answers constitute a substantial commenting and flagging load on users, and the workload for moderators to deal with all these flags is probably rather formidable too.

Finally, we should find out if the Ask Question button, as it is now, is specifically inaccessible to people with certain disabilities. It is critically important that we not conclude it's fine as it is, at least until we have satisfied ourselves that we're not discriminating against people with visual impairments.

  • 3
    I still remember first visit in askubuntu . I searched 30 minutes for askbutton but invain . So I switched to mobile version and posted the question
    – Tachyons
    Commented Jun 22, 2012 at 13:17

Update: the entire header was changed; see: Upcoming site design changes

I like it. I think it's classy.

And really, it looks like plenty of folks have been able to find it so far - only two other sites on the network have more questions asked each day, and one of those is Stack Overflow.

mateo_salta's alternate designs are nice enough, but frankly, I think this is change for the sake of change.

  • 3
    Sorry , I can't give more than 1 downvote for these type of answers :(
    – Tachyons
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 15:35
  • 3
    Your answer only shows that people who know where the ask button is use if often. What about first time visitors to this stackexchange site?
    – d-_-b
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 22:08
  • Please update your answer :)
    – Tachyons
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 1:25

(At start I agreed totally with this idea)

Our Ask Question button kinda fades out a bit and might be hard to find for a new user visiting the page for the first time(s).

Pondering a bit I went to some random sites in SE to check out possible suggestions...

Wow, we have a nice looking Ask Question button compared with other sites, and it looks awesome in the layout!

It's probably easier to find than 75% of the sites I checked:

  • The position is nice
  • The styling copying Ubuntu style guides fits the site
  • It is unique!
  • It looks (a tinny bit) like the default Ubuntu desktops
  • It is visible!
    But could be better ):

I agree that we could improve the visibility of the button, the hover effect is nice, but the button could get nicer border to make it more prominent on the main page.

It is my wish that we have a look at some options, without modifying the button so much, but make it more prominent.


I don't think its necessary.

While some people may not be able to see the button, 95% of the people out there are able to see it (supported by how many new questions we get in any given time period greater than an hour). Given this, I wouldn't find any logical reason to change the way it is now.

As well...

A single grey / translucent back background should fix the problem

That would take away from the design of the site. Aesthetics are important, and adding a grey or translucent background to the button takes away from the aesthetics (it looks ugly).

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