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I am designing a forum related to certain academic topics with features similar to Stack exchange sites. I have designed a web layout to facilitate easy navigation between the post overviews & the entire post. In stack exchange sites there's a need to switch to the question's page to see the entire post but in my layout the post data is displayed just beside the post overviews. This works very similar to twitter's new UI. The below shown image just shows a snapshot of how this may work.

Proposed layout

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closed as not a real question by Matt Rockwell, Patrick McElhaney Sep 2 '11 at 19:21

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Marcos, generally SE discourages questions of the "what do you think of my design" type. Please try to make your question concern specific problems you're dealing with. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 4 '11 at 6:17
    
oh.. I am sorry about this. Will take care from now onwards. –  user01 Jun 4 '11 at 15:28
    
you can edit your question, e.g. add questions about specific aspects you are concerned about after the screenshot. –  James Crook Jun 4 '11 at 15:41
    
no problem, just edit the question as @James Crook suggested. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 4 '11 at 21:05

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Have a look at this tag wiki article and questions in tag for related patterns.

Varying the Area Allocation

The key problem you have here is that questions and answers are competing for space. It's a trade off, and it's not a fixed trade off. Sometimes answers will be more important, sometimes questions.

To solve that I'd make the boundary between the left and right draggable so the user themself can choose to see more-questions/more-answers on a page. I'd also make the question height draggable up and down, so the user can see just the question, question+who, question+who+when, question+who+when+start-of-best-answer, question+who+when+best+answer+tags. I'd additionally move the tags above the first answer. I hope someone else can give an argument for or against moving the tags higher. For me it just feels better.

I've used that variable-height approach to master-detail to control how much of the detail to show on search results from a protein database search. It turned out that there were two levels of detail users liked best - corresponding here to question and question+who+when, and they would toggle back and forth between them, using the most compact format to scroll and scan quickly. That experience suggests that by default you should in fact move the first answer to the right column, along with the other answers, as that will allow faster scanning of the questions.

Distinguishing The Columns

I'd also work at distinguishing the two columns more. At the moment with peripheral vision they have near identical appearance, bar the color tie. With more distinctiveness it will be easier for the eyes to switch back and forth between questions and answers.

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+1 Gave me a number of ideas for a desktop app as well. –  Marjan Venema Jun 5 '11 at 7:10

what happens when you open the fifth question? will you be able to see the first answer from the top?

The classic 'click on question opens answers' will work better.

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yes you'll see the answers column fully! As you scroll down, you just scroll along the left column vertically, very similar to twitter –  user01 Jun 6 '11 at 17:21

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