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StackExchange has the top notification bar that informs of a number of things like badges gained, for instance. The red bullet shows inbox notifications. The yellow or red boxes show validation messages.

The community moderator election has its own notification. cooking

So, how many notifications are there and are they all needed?

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Exactly how is this an appropriate question for UX.SE? –  Charles Boyung Feb 16 '12 at 13:03
    
@CharlesBoyung The exact same question could be asked about Facebook, Gmail or any other site. It happens to be about SE. It's a nice question on different types of notification mechanisms. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Feb 16 '12 at 14:39
    
@CharlesBoyung, As I'm a SE user, my personal UX is affected. Some notification mechanisms are not so good, IMO. The follow-up question would, of course be: how many are strictly needed? But that question should be asked at Meta. I'm happy with the reply of Vitaly. –  GUI Junkie Feb 16 '12 at 18:12
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How many is a question for Meta.StackOverflow really, though "are they appropriate" could fit here or on MSO –  Ben Brocka Feb 16 '12 at 19:25
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@VitalyMijiritsky That's fine. However, this specific question really has nothing to do with UX. It's just asking about what notifications are on the site. If it was asking for the reasoning behind them or something like that, it would fit here, but the existing question isn't a UX question at all. –  Charles Boyung Feb 16 '12 at 19:30
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migrated from meta.ux.stackexchange.com Feb 16 '12 at 7:31

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for user experience researchers and experts.

1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Seems to me like you listed most of them. Another one becomes visible as you get enough rep to see flagged posts, then you get a notification of the number of different types of flags and posts waiting to be reviewed. They can come in a few colors, based on the types of open flags. One more occurs in the chat room, when someone replies to you.

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As to whether they're all needed, we need to look at the differences between them.

  • The top notification bar can't be missed or ignored, it's disruptive. It's great for new users, who get new badges and privs fairly frequently, but they might miss the inbox notification or not understand it.
  • The red bullet on the inbox and the flag counters are contextual. They're both not important enough to "abuse the power" of the disruptive top bar, and they mark things which can be accessed later using the navigation controls marked by the notification. So they simultaneously alert the user to the updates, and show how these updates can be viewed, but they don't contain the updates themselves, as opposed to the top bar.
  • The election notification is site-wide, it's not directed at a specific user. So it can't use any of the first two methods, because we also want it to be persistent and non-dismissable.
  • The chatroom notification occurs in a completely different setting and context, and it needs to be very dynamic. It's displayed iPhone style right on the input box, where most of the users' interaction with the chat room takes place.

So of the four kinds, none could really replace any other. The flag counters could possibly be merged with the inbox notification, if the flags arrived through the inbox - but it wouldn't be as efficient, and in any case at the moment they don't.

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There's also the new blog entry notification which replaces the chat link for a while (and which also appears in the bottom nav) and then there's the "popup-until-dismissed" notification bars eg when you get a badge and when you're auto logged in to another SE site. –  Roger Attrill Feb 16 '12 at 13:38
    
sorry - you had the notification bar covered - that's the disruptive one... –  Roger Attrill Feb 16 '12 at 13:50
    
Roger - right, I forgot about the blog notification, thanks. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Feb 16 '12 at 14:40
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