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Compromise Discussion[]

Well, since I initially opposed this change, I should probably make a constructive suggestion. I'd be happy to work with eyes on a new skin, that is technologically sound, but still preservers the fixed-size column layout of the site. I would provide the design and graphical elements for that skin, much like how we did it with the current one. If we want to have a uniform skin, without the current variations (Starfleet, Klingon, Borg), I can try to mimic the new STO homepage for a more neutral look. Regards, --RachelGarrett 05:44, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Sounds amazing! However, having at least one skin option enabling you to make full use of your display width (like the monobook skin for Memory Alpha) would still be awesome, though. --Akira-sensei 14:05, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
As I indicated in my comments upthread, I think it's important we find something that makes the life of the tech admin easier. But there are certain design theories which, I think, are not open to negotiation.
  • You must use a fixed-width design. I know Wikipedia doesn't, but they have a mass of editors and admin to straighten out disputes between editors. On smaller wikis like this, it's important that we're all seeing the page served in the same way, regardless of the width of our monitors. You just don't have enough administrative staff to patrol the little wars that inevitably arise when two editors are, in very good faith, trying to reformat a page so it looks "right" on their monitor. The day of variable width sites is really over — even if Wikipedia's mass of ye-olde-tyme editors can continue to produce consensuses which ignore the trend.
  • It must not be TNG-era (i.e. multi-colored) LCARS design. The color scheme should match the game, not the series. So, either blue on blue or KDF red. All respect to the Okudas, but multi-colored designs actually don't work for long-term viewing. Also, the LCARS design is trying to achieve contextual meaning by color coding, which directly violates accessibility guidelines. There are color-blind players of this game, which is why — I'm almost positive — the designers switched to a variation of the Okudagram which plays well for them. The color coding in the game is comparatively minimal, and it is not the only clue to meaning. That is, "Uncommon" may be green, but it also says "uncommon", so if you're color blind, you're not missing out. What's nice about the current design of this wiki is that it hews to game and thereby — whether by design or a happy accident of emulating the game — works well for the color blind. Well, except for the editing window, which brings me to the next point.
  • Any new design must include a light background/dark, monospace font for the editing window. Yes, sure, I could just set this in my personal CSS, but you get a lot of IP editors here. It's better for editing overall to make this the default condition. I'm seeing all sorts of small errors of spacing which are more likely attributable to the hard-to-read editing window. Most of these would be eliminated by monospaced fonts. It's also devilishly hard to see the cursor in the current environment, which makes difficult using the mouse to select a specific portion of text.
  • Allowing an add-on to emulate the current design for registered users only is kind of a bad idea, or maybe even a waste of time. If you start designing with a view towards making the registered users more "special" than the casual IP user, you're missing the point of the wiki. The idea is to make this site a resource for other players. It should be possible for IP users to experience the same site that the editors are seeing. If you provide one experience for the editors, and one for the readers, you're allowing the editors to make a site that the readers aren't exactly seeing. The default condition of the wiki should be the same for everyone. It's better to put your energies into getting editors to accept a well-designed new interface, instead of providing one design for the IPs and another retro design for the editors.
I hope that these thoughts are helpful in formulating a new, compromise design CzechOut 14:30, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I really agree with CzechOut's comments, especially the last one! I fully understand the need for a technically easier to administrate skin. But as I have stated previously, you should do yourself a favor and polish the skin before it is released. The comment that "the new skin allows users to do it themselves later on" is worrying and short-sighted. Small polishes and fixes after a skin goes live are understandable and often necessary. However, the skin also represents this community as a whole and thus the entire project - so it is only fair to give the Wiki a finished and thought-through skin, instead of what seems to be a little half-heartedly put together (from a design perspective, not a technical one). RachelGarret's offer seems good and promising, though. -- Backyardserenade 15:51, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I can understand disagreeing with the aesthetics of the design, but please do me the favor of not suggesting the many hours put into this were not fully-invested on my part. In fact, oddly enough, from the feedback I've received, I would have done better to invest less by starting with assets from this skin and simply adapting them to the elements provided by Vector. I can easily make the case I wasn't half-hearted enough, but instead, I started this from scratch.
And your previous comments did not lead me to believe you felt that the skin should not need small polishes and fixes before it went live. It's clear now that you were not placing as a high a standard as I thought you were, and as such, please understand I wasn't advocating a standard as low as you thought I was. That part is now obviously a misunderstanding. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 17:04, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I really agree with CzechOut's second point. The multi-colored LCARS design was futuristic and cutting edge when it was first introduced, but that was what, 25 years ago now? 15:57, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

I supported the Vector skin because of its goal toward improving the skin framework, not because I would choose it over and above the current look and feel of the site (I wouldn't). There are lots of things to tweak, still. But as a CMS skin designer myself, I understand the framework has to be there. :) So the current staged plan of incorporating the current style into the new framework seems fine, and if it takes longer it takes longer. Don't pull a Cryptic, let it simmer on Tribble for a while. ;D

It's terrific that Eyes went all out with a new look, and as a designer I would've done the same for a client mockup. But experience has also taught me that given the nature of our MMO community, and humans in general, change is best served in morsels and not meals. Brackynews 07:19, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Thoughts on next step[]

Because of the large amount of time invested and the current uncertainty in how much I can continue to invest, I'm concerned with Rachel's suggestion since that takes us on a course not yet explored by the community. Some of you may have noticed that I'm now a member of Curse wiki team, but I still have almost a week yet at my old job as well. I have no idea yet if, after that, I will have more or less time I can spend on this, so I'm uneasy with trying a compromise that boldly takes us into an uncharted direction.

Most of those opposed to current Vector design are comfortable with the look of the current skins, so my preferred approach to simply continue to blend the Vector skin as it currently is with the aesthetics of the Stofederation skin.

I'm likely to do it in a series of stages where I'll then solicit comment and wait awhile. The first stage will probably focus on creating a header and sidebar much more like Stofederation, implementing fixed width, changing infobox borders, and changing the embedded font or simply getting rid of it entirely. (It was difficult enough finding this one, and even I admit it has some wonky characteristics.) Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 17:04, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Please let me know, if I can make life any easier for you by providing new/resized assets. --RachelGarrett 19:49, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Vector Skin from an Accessibility Standpoint[]

Having tested the latest skin the in the browsers I use (Firefox on Windows, Safari on iOS) the main but major issue I have is with the forced dead space at the right of pages. I understand the need for it on the left, but on the right it leaves so much unused space.

Because of my eyesight I often have to use a browsers zoom function to enlarge a page from their default representation. I currently do this with STOwiki and the LCARS skins have no issues, the only thing spilling off-screen being the huge Curse footer at the bottom of the page.

However, with the vector skin, when I zoom in, the right page margin stays the same width relative to my display resolution, and gets even bigger when zooming in further. The End result is a squashed mid/body section where the text is large enough to read, but constricted so much that (especially when you factor in infoboxes and images) it becomes difficult to read because the lines are so short. I'm aware my use case may be a minority, but the accessibility of of this wiki should not be sacrificed in favour of stylistic merit of technical compatibility. MikeWard1701 20:13, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Ok, I'm not100% certain on where we are at the moment as I've had afk from STO for a while due to computer issues. However I looked at what was provided in the voting page and am disheartened. While the idea of the new skin is a good start I feel at the moment it is not at a stage yet in which to have any voting done on it. The majority of buttons, links, headers, etc don't feel finished or really even close to being presentable, for instance the buttons on the top seem cramped. The font usage breaks up any hierarchy that is supposed to be there by having (seemingly random) placement of bolded, outlined, bold & outline, faces. There are a bunch of other things that bug me about the design of the new theme however I cannot stand to look at it any longer & so must end. Given time & fair but more work it could be a good design for STOwiki's new theme. However it isn't near ready for a decision to be made in my opinion as a Graphic Designer. PerRock 08:15, 13 August 2012 (UTC) (moved to bottom of pagePerRock 08:18, 13 August 2012 (UTC))

Blending, stage 1[]

As per my comments above, the following changes have been made to the skin (with one extra):

  • It now uses a fixed-width layout.
  • The embedded font was removed. It now just uses your standard sans-serif font.
  • The new header and sidebar designs are more like STOfederation.
  • Infoboxes and all similar elements have had their borders changed to be more like STOfederation, and now use a gradient background.
  • Discarded the Starfleet Academy background and performed some optimization on the other. Considering discarding the random background feature.

Once again, I'm now going to cease any changes until next week (August 20, 2012) to allow comment. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 16:50, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

  • Using default sans-serif causes inconsistency in viewing. Why not set up a font stack, or pick a web-safe font (the STO website uses Verdana). I would also suggest loosing the Bold in a lot of places; in particular the buttons, and the Navigation links.
  • Pick a style & stick with it. At the moment you have some aspects that have a unique new STOwiki look & (for the most part) look quite good, however you then have stuff that looks like it was pulled straight from the game & some that looks like it was pulled straight from the current them. The biggest being to cut back on the number of different colors you are using. On the NPC Ship page I can count 14+ different blues/blue gradients (I counted gradients as 1). I would make #D1F4FF your link color, have it in the Navigation bar, the ToC, buttons, and the body copy. Make the Grey text in the "Discussion" button your no-page link color (this keeps some consistency). Eliminate the special gradient for the notice & use the one for the ToC, use that gradient in the Info box as well (consistency). The header of the info box should use a primary color already in the scheme, maybe the dark blue used in the Banner (#19293E). Loose the green & use or another Blue (that's already being used). Also loose the outlines in the body copy.
  • Search: I would swap the search bar & the page viewing buttons, when folks come to the wiki they are 1st here to look for something. This puts the search bar more out in front & easier to locate, instead of off in a corner out of the way as it is now. Putting the Page Viewing buttons up in that corner give the layout a more tabular feel which is the norm these days & allows for easy switching between them. You could even place the search bar (or those buttons) inside the blue LCARS-ish band.

I'll leave it at that for now. PerRock 18:59, 13 August 2012 (UTC) PS: Forgot one more, Alignment; I'd check it. Currently the Content mask is creating an odd point at the bottom of the navigation bar where the two overlap poorly. Also most of the buttons seem to be placed here & there. It would look better if they had a more fixed feel to them (in particular the "hide" button in the ToC). PerRock 19:13, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

The latest updates look much much better - taking the best of the current STOfederation skin and integrating it into your WIP. My suggestions, though:

  • The ESD/Earth background is rather distracting. I'd rather it was either faded out significantly, or a solid background color like what STOfed has right now.
  • I'd stick to having all heading fonts in the same shade of blue, and white for body text. The current Nav sidebar in Vector has a nasty combo of white and blue.
  • The Log In button at the very top looks rather awkward positioning-wise.

That being said:

  • Good to see the updated logo, as well as the tasteful reuse of the STOfed top frame. --Sumghai 23:18, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Latest version[]

I made some adjustments based on the feedback above, but I didn't fully agree with everything, especially switching the search bar with other buttons due to the logical disconnect this would create in moving buttons affecting the current page away from the current page in order to place something for wiki-wide navigation closer. This makes absolutely zero sense to me, so I tried a size increase and border change to make search more prominent.

I'm opening another vote because it's not clear where to go from here without a much broader sense of community opinion. Another stage of blending would make it considerably more like STOfederation, which doesn't make much of a compromise to those who supporting changing to the version last voted on, and I can't assume feedback from only two people reflects the community opinion. Naturally, I won't make further changes until the vote closes, but still feel free to make further comments. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 18:20, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

I really like the skin is now using a fixed-sized layout, which makes reading much easier. I think the graphics could use some tweaking and again, I would be happy to help out on that front.
Still, the full-blown background and the semi-transparent layers pose a big technical hurdle for a lot of devices. I just tried to load the new main page on an elderly smart phone and it failed terribly. Also, a netbook had trouble keeping up with scrolling. I'd recommend to either remove these computationally expensive effects, or offer alternative stylesheets.
I don't know, if the skin needs to resemble STOfederation more closely or has to be more distinct. Actually, what I like about STOfederation and its variations is its "pleasantness" and "sleekness". It has some fun visual elements, but it is still elegant and very functional (the Borg version not so much as the other two :-)). The eye can follow the content easily, which is clearly separated from the UI elements. I think these aspects are the ones which should carry over to the new theme. If we end up with blue, gray, rounded or rectangular UI elements is secondary, in my opinion. From that point of view the new skin is a huge improvement independent from the concrete graphics used.
Again, I'm standing by for any work that needs to be done on the UI graphics. We could try to lean more towards the generic look of the STO homepage, tweak STOfederation visuals to blend with the current design, or even try to go our own way. Personally, I think resembling the game or website UI still is a good vector to approach this, as it makes visitors "feel at home".
Regards, --RachelGarrett 17:39, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Adding a gadget to switch to a solid background would be trivial, and I've figured on doing so. There's just no good way for me to demonstrate that on the sandbox wiki. I also forgot about setting up separate background styles for mobile devices. I'll do that when the vote is over. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 19:13, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
So much wasted space on a 1920x1080 screen, just like the current theme, 50% of total screen space is wasted. I have always hated fixed width pages due to there being enormous wasted space on big screens, and horizontal scroll bars on small old screens. Other than that i like the look and feel, just not the fixed width.
--DazzaJay 08:33AM, 29 August 2012 (GMT+10)
I agree, I think the fixed width screen should be slightly wider, able to fit well on a 1280x1024 LCD. I feel that's a good minimum size for modern systems. Suggest reducing the empty space on either side by 50% on a 1280x1024 screen. A mobile or generic smaller style sheet can be created for phones, netbooks, etc that focuses on providing content. I like the new fonts and colors. I do hope we can see a selectable Klingon theme (Red) and maybe other themes as well (Romulan=green (or would that be Borg?) and yellow/orange for Cardassian).
--Richardhendricks 14:56, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Question Regarding Other Skins[]

I didn't see this listed anywhere, but would additional vector skin versions be made for Klingons, Borg, etc. or will it only be available in Federation blue?

I concur that this version does look much better and addresses several of the issues I had with the former vector skin design. --MatthewM 13:57, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

I guess that's up to the community. I'm not sure when I'd be able to get to it, but then, I'd recommend such versions only be different in graphics and colors anyway. Since all of the CSS and graphics will be available on the wiki, anyone would be able to take a stab at it using their personal stylesheet. We should be able to set up any other versions to be selectable as gadgets in user preferences. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 19:09, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

"Neutral" Wiki[]

The skin looks very nice and i bet it's a massive work to make it compatible or work properly but i would vote for a less FED-side skin and make it more "Neutral".A wikia is or should be neutral and not encourage (new)players to play only Fed-side faction by it's skin or added-more Fed content:).Anyways the skin is great but don't make it more FED.Thank you.Cris333 13:06, 5 September 2012 (UTC)


The vote effectively stands at 13 in support of the current skin, 5 against. (I'm counting RachelGarrett as a vote against).

If we use the criteria Rachel suggested before (which I'm opposed to because I believe the opinions of readers should matter too, not just editors), we end up with 9 supporting, 4 against. Either way, we're looking at strong support, so after making the indicated adjustments to improve performance on mobile devices and provide an option to improve performance on slower computers like netbooks, I'd like to proceed with bringing over the Vector skin. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 22:57, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Okay, a few last minute changes to address technical issues:
  • The skin should no longer load the background on many phones. Most tablets probably still will.
  • A few skin options can be tweaked with a simple Javascript dialog. See and click the "My skin options" button at top for a demonstration. (The button will only appear if you have Javascript enabled.)
    • For those who don't want to see the demonstration, it allows you to turn off the background completely, or switch between the fixed background (one that doesn't scroll with the content) or the scrolling background (which does). You can also turn the transparency for the article background on and off.
    • The settings are saved in cookies, allowing you to set it per device. Registration is not necessary to use these options.
Unless there are any major last-minute objections, I plan to send a request to the technical team to switch the skin over tomorrow night. Eyes User-Eyes-Sig.png 08:21, 18 September 2012 (UTC)