Introducing experimental admin sidebar navigation

Taking them to a separate logster page might be bad, but it’s been the practice for a decade.

There’s a way to navigate there from the admin page, but no way to find it from the sidebar, so the sidebar removes the ability for a normal person to be able to find the logs. I just tried to help someone with a new site and they have turned on the sidebar and now they have zero chance of finding /logs. They have to know they want to go there and type it in by hand. This particular admin is not likely ever to do that.

So there is a way to get to /logs from the sidebar? I don’t know what a “horizontal menu” is, maybe?

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Not good wording on may part. I know what I meant :laughing:

The ‘horizontal’ menu bar containing Staff Actions/Screened Emails/Screened IPs/… replicates the menu entries in the sidebar.

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Yes - you get there via the “Error logs” link in the sidebar. It’s the first item in the Security section.

Though @martin I think this should open in a new browser tab?

You can also search for e.g. log in the sidebar filter and it turns up all the logs, including the error logs.

Screenshot 2024-04-24 at 8.54.48 AM

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I think you added the “Back to site” link to /logs instead.

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Oh yeah, that’s a good point. I forgot about that back to site link which does the trick.

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Aha! It doesn’t make sense to me that it’s in security. “advanced” is where I looked a few times.

Wait!

But I just enabled admin sidebar on another site, and it has this:

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which is what I want. Has this wonderful logs menu been removed since faf0807?

I think that the admin is on their own to know how to open a new tab. :slight_smile: Arguably you could follow their preference for links in new tabs, but the good old interface assumed the admin knew how to use a browser. I think you can too. :slight_smile:

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This is why while I understand the desire to “change” the interface can be quite good. I prefer fallback options as it can be quite jarring to have to relearn an interface. Even if it is believed to be more intuitive.

That is one of the things that was great with discourse is the option to be able to use theming even on the admin panel. At one time if not mistaken it was even maybe possible to create an admin theme to maybe make the admin interface say similar to forum interface one might be mitigating from. Chameleons often blend better because of their adaptability akin to Opensource

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I haven’t actually stopped to get out a stop watch, but it feels like this new UI has me making more clicks and taking more time to get to the place I want/need to go.

I’d be curious to know what sparked the feeling to need to change this area of the UI so drastically.

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On mobile, it requires stretching to the top right to open the sidebar, stretching to the top left and doing an accurate tap on the “Admin” option and then stretching once again to open the sidebar again. The search is good so I now have started use that but it requires stretching once again to the top left of the screen and then typing out what I want.

I would say the discoverability of admin settings has greatly improved. It’s easier to find settings you don’t change often. But it’s at the cost of the basic workflow being more complicated (opening sidebar twice, doing a text search). So frequently used admin menu items that used to be 2 presses away are now harder to get to. Basically the ceiling effort required was reduced but the floor effort was raised. And the floor scenario is more common.

What would be nice is a way to star/favorite admin pages and have them show up as buttons on the main admin page.


ie. Somewhere here.

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I like that idea. I generally only use a couple of pages in the Admin area and this would speed things up a lot.

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We do intend to add custom sections and links scoped to the admin sidebar, just as you can do in the main forum sidebar, at some point. Perhaps adding shortcuts to the new dashboard, when we get to that, will be in the cards too.

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While we are on the topic of mobile ux, it would also be nice to have a search bar/button on the main part of the admin dashboard (or maybe every admin page) that either 1) has its own search functionality OR 2) pops open the sidebar and sets the sidebar search bar in focus. That seems to be a common UI/UX feature on many platforms that use search.

While I like the sidebar (especially on desktop) on mobile, the less I have to directly interact with it, the better.

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Can you share some examples of places you go to very regularly that you feel are taking longer/more clicks? That would be super helpful.

One goal we have with these changes is to bury some items in the navigation to reduce complexity in the user interface. They will still be reachable but maybe a level or two down in the structure. This will invariably involve cheese moves that will require an adjustment for those who have formed muscle memory but will hopefully also improve the overall experience for people encountering Discourse for the first time or who do not want to or need to have every dial and knob available at their fingertips.

We are intentionally designing for desktop first for the admin section, but agree that we can and should be doing more for mobile first users. For instance we can move frequently used navigation items to our thumbs when on mobile, as we have started doing for chat.

If you’re up for it, could you start a new topic to propose this with changes you’d like to see in the Discourse UI on mobile? Can’t make any promises but will be good to start sharing ideas. For instance, moving the header navigation items to the bottom on mobile would be an interesting experiment to try.

As Martin says, we have something like this on our list and would like to get to it in the not too distant future. I’ve always been advocating for the ability to :star: pages in discourse to add/remove them from a favorites section in the sidebar. Glad to hear more people are into the idea. Feel free to start a new topic if you want to collect ideas on how it might work.

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I’ll do my best to find some time. Overall, based on your second statement, it sounds like it will make it easier for new users but more difficult for power users—which is fine, that happens and power users will adjust. But having the “show me everything” option is always a nice-to-have for those of us that move fast :slight_smile:

Maybe one option would be, at the highest level in settings, to simply have a toggle for advanced mode or something similar?

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I like the idea, but:

  1. It is really confusing when using the top-right hamburger menu instead of the new sidebar. I know I’ll have to migrate to that eventually, and I mostly want to, but there are some big UX things I need to work out first.

  2. Oh no! “Community” as label for “miscellaneous stuff that we don’t know how to label” is, tragically, back!

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What is holding you back?

Thanks, but this feedback is not especially actionable. Can you be more specific? Are there items in here that you’d expect to see in a different section, and can you explain why? Or are you suggesting the “Community” label should be called something else? If so, what would you call it?

We did some initial research to come up with these sections and the items within each section to start with, but are open to suggestions on improvements.

There are two major things:

  1. On our site, tags make most sense in the context of categories. (We’re using tag groups extensively.) And, categories are organized into a small but meaningful hierarchy. The sidebar presents everything as flat. Some of our category names don’t even make sense without the parent category name (and I’m not super-excited about renaming them to add redundancy).

  2. We’re using categories + latest as the default page. (See https://discussion.fedoraproject.org/). This feels very redundant with the category list in the sidebar, and make the front page seem incredibly busy and intimidating.

    However, if we switch to just “Latest” as the default view, we lose the very important overview of exactly what the categories mean. (This is actually something I’d recommend for site members who have been active for a while and understand the setup, but not how I want to start.)

For the second, one idea I have but which I haven’t really mocked up or tested: have the sidebar default to “rolled up” in the Categories + Latest view; and if you click the ☰ to show the sidebar, automatically switch to only latest.

The word “Community” has an actual meaning. A forum or website is not a community. It can be a tool for a community or communities, and communities can form around forums, but it’s actively harmful to conflate them. It cheapens the term and harms intentional focus on actual community building and support.

In the current menu, the term seems to be a label for “some stuff to do with user accounts, but also things we weren’t sure were to put otherwise”.

Why are notification settings “community”? Watched words? Permalinks?

Conversely, if “about this site” is “community”, why isn’t the logo? If Badges are “community”, why aren’t custom emoji? Maybe “tags”, too? What about “staff action logs”? (That’s likely more relevant to actual community than the configuration for legal compliance links.)

If this were just for things specifically pertaining to site member accounts, I would find it less aggravating (although at that point, “Users” and “Accounts” would probably make most sense).

There are some things that I do think could fit under a Community category. Badges, as a gamification tool might fit there. Moderation tools and reports. Sentiment analysis. Trust Level configuration seems like a Security topic, but TL reports might be Community. “Groups” might fit, but might be better under “Accounts”. Things that are actually related to the

As when this came up previously, I don’t think it should be on me to come up with a
“better” label. It’s on you to not use a harmful one. But, if you need a suggestion before making a change, consider “Miscellaneous”.

This raises a separate point: those legal links are important, but by their nature, change rarely. Shouldn’t frequency of use be a factor prominently in the menu organization? Things which get changed maybe once every few years if ever shouldn’t be on the same level as possibly-daily reports and activities.

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I don’t believe it’s called the “Hamburger Menu” anymore, it is just the “Dropdown” mode of the Sidebar … and I really hope Dropdown Mode is here to stay (as an option)?

It is especially useful when you want to present a different kind of left sidebar.

I do feel the “Hamburger” Icon on the top right is the quintessential Discourse “look” …

Matt’s forum has not yet upgraded to using the sidebar. They still have the old format with the hamburger top right.

I understand your frustration with the conflation (I’ve read your comments in the past) but in this case it feels to me like the collection of items under that heading are the community building tools, which is why it makes sense to me. (Although I had nothing to do with the decision to name it that.) What would you suggest as an alternative?

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