Question: How can we reduce visual clutter on the sidebar of

warren asked on November 14, 2017 17:43
111 | 1 answers | shortlink

There's an ongoing project to reimagine the purpose, and then the design, of the sidebar on More details are here:

...but this refers to the kind of content that appears in the left sidebar of pages like this:

What do people think about this?

I can think of a few starting points:

1. we could look at some of what Siyuan suggested re: moving sidebar to the right side (see the last comment):

2. we could think through where displaying related content would be more helpful (at the end of the page? See references from, for example, articles)

3. we could look into Google Analytics to see if we can learn about how often people do cross-navigate into related content

4. we could think through how related content is auto-identified, and try to do a better job, to make it /more/ relevant

website design web wwg ui



@tommystyles this may be related to our discussion last week! @liz also take a peek over here, thanks! :-)

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1 Answers

You might want to point out that you are referring to the left sidebar which shows up on a subset of publiclab pages.

  1. I don't think I have ever found the "Recent topic contributors" section in the sidebar to be useful.
  2. Sometimes the "Recent wiki pages" section includes something I am looking for, but not often.
  3. The "Related research notes" section is usually misleading because recent notes are favored. A note about exactly the same topic (same author and tags, similar title) from a year or two ago will not be included.
  4. Maybe a section "Recent notes by this author" would be more useful to many.
  5. When a map is included in the left sidebar, it never fails to make me mad. When I scroll through the note or wiki with the mouse wheel and scroll over the map, the scrolling stops and the maps starts to zoom. This is terrible user experience.
  6. The left sidebar seems to be intended to help users find related content. I would think if that were a priority, the first step would be to fix the search function so it did what most people expect search to do (search titles, tags, and text [separately or in combination] to find the best match).


Thanks for pointing that out, Chris - and I agree on point 2, that's one reason @liz started this issue.

From your 3) i see a potential suggestion for either renaming it "Recent related notes" OR reworking it so it's sorted to display, say, most popular or liked content?

I like "recent by this author" -- nice suggestion

In 5) I see a potential suggestion to change the inline maps to not respond to scroll wheel zooming?

on 6) -- indeed it is a priority, and we have a long-running project to expand and improve search services to do just that: which we hope will be completed soon.

Thanks for your input -- several of these are actionable, discrete steps forward and if you or anyone else agrees, I'm happy to help recruit some new contributors to solve these!

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Maybe more useful than a long list of popular/recent/related notes in the sidebar is the one or two real research notes (not newsletters, events, or questions) with the most views during the last two weeks. With the standard thumbnail lead image, etc.

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