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Ask HN: Is it me or HackerNews needs a better UI?
17 points by echan00 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments
I really enjoy the content posted on HN. But I frequently find myself skimming through the (often) insightful comments/discussion. Am I the only one who thinks the comments UX makes it difficult to read/participate?

HN is my favorite UI. I guess what makes some people happy makes others unhappy. For me personally "mobile" UI's suck on mobile. HN works great on mobile, for me at least. HN works great on a desktop too.

One vote for the UI being great just as it is. Mobile and desktop.

The voting and hide/comment age buttons are terrible on mobile - they're far too small and close together so it's easy to accidentally press the wrong button. Nested comments are bad on mobile too, since they end up being in a column two words wide.

The nesting of comments really bothers me too, the deeper you go into a thread, the narrower the columns.

If you're looking for an app that has solved the nested comments issue, check this out: https://shn.app.link/HN-ask2

Disclaimer: I made it, it's open source, and contributions are welcome! (Built in react native)

I actually really enjoy the layout.

I think changing the color scheme to make it a bit easier on the eyes would certainly be an improvement.

I'm not a designer, but one possible improvement would be to cap the width of the text regardless of browser width.

While I agree, to a certain point (depends on the width), not everyone likes this.

Which is why the styles should be something users can adjust when logged in.

It's very weird that the only real customizable part of this site is the background color of the topbar, and that's a perk that requires karma.

You can do this already with Chrome extensions on desktop.

I like the 'Stylish' chrome extension. User created (or custom) styles for any website you use regularly. I use dark themes for practically everything.

My Hacker News style is a user stylesheet "Hacker News Dark" and 1 line of additional CSS I added to reduce the lane width of the text:

.comment-tree { max-width: 600px; }

Of course you can go to town and add comic sans, etc.

That's precisely what I did with Stylish, I pickup a nice dark theme and the UX is awesome now

Ugly UI doesn't mean a bad UX. I always point people towards craigslist and ebay.

I can get my news and put in my .02, when compelled to do so. Also, the community is authoritative and inviting.

What could you want from a new design that would add value to the community?

I think Hacker News has perfectly fine UI but horrible UX. Sorry if i got those definitions wrong. I think the colour scheme etc is perfectly fine but the actual functionality of this site is horrendous.

- There is no search function anywhere

- Go back far enough in the news listings and it just stops. No explanation. https://news.ycombinator.com/news?p=15

- To find the formatting guide for posting comments you have to go through the FAQs?!

- Update a comment and you get redirected to the same form with no message.

I really don't get why a site who's target audiance is web developers and hackers has such terrible functionality on their site. Is it because we are really meant to be reading our news through a REST interface?

> - There is no search function anywhere

The bottom.of most pages has a search box.

Most people here will be able.to use DDG or Bing or Google to search the site.

I stand corrected.

> Is it because we are really meant to be reading our news through a REST interface?

It would certainly raise the bar for entry if HN just offered an undocumented API and required users to write their own clients for it.

True, but it would also perpetuate the stereotype of developers and techies as being a closed community of pretentious nerds.

I actually don't have any problems with ugly UI. I agree with your sentiment on craigslist, but I think the UX of hackernews can be better. Perhaps more emphasis on the discussion or how it is presented? Or ways to sort/display them? I always have this feeling there is good stuff in the discussion but I have to focus myself to read/takeaway from them. Like I said, maybe it's just me?

Hacker news is the best mobile performing website I use. Would rather it not change.

Yes but for deeply nested comments, Reddit's interface (with Reddit Enhancement Suite) is so much better. You can reasonably navigate a multi thousand comment thread. On HN, that's difficult / impossible, especially on mobile.

One small thing that bothers me is the upvote button that looks too much like a button to (un)fold comments, especially when you can't downvote and therefore don't have any downvote button.

I just discovered that there is a [-] to (un)fold comments by the way. I would probably just have swapped the positions and use less confusing icons.

Another thing is the occasional blocks of code that are too wide and not wrapped, this requires horizontal scrolling which I find a bit annoying, especially on phones. And the text-reflow Firefox extension does not handle this, otherwise it would be a non-issue for me.

At the beginning, the appearance of HN seemed raw to me, but I got used to it and like it.

I like the "brutalism". The only thing i would add is a night mode.

+1 for a dark mode!

YAS! I personally use the PWA to view HN as i find it more responsive and more visually pleasing.


Apart from different colors (which can be achieved by changing the CSS here) and using 17x more data on initial load, what does this accomplish?

Not that I am supporting this other UI here. But there is something to say about using different fonts, spacing, colors, etc.. You might not agree but it makes a difference to many people.

cool stuff! thanks for the share

What I miss in the HN UI is a way to check what are the new comments when I revisit a discussion thread.

another great example of how it can be "better"..

I once attended a seminar by Balaji Vishwanathan. He said in that seminar that once he had the opportunity to meet founder of HackerNews, and he asked him why he doesn't do anything about the look and feel of the site? The founder replied,"I want the site to be as ugly as possible". He implied real hackers like things ugly.

>He implied real hackers like things ugly.

Maybe be likes things ugly, and believes real hackers should be like him. Either way, I think he's incorrect.

Or else the people who have been complaining about the design and layout here for years aren't "real hackers."

It might be implying that "real hackers" end up doing things their own way if they want to e.g. style overrides / pwas / 3 million different hacker news feeds, etc

There's a lot to be said for the simple UI here.

As a developer I'm not looking for anything more here than the "News", "Show", "Ask", "Jobs" features and the insight via the comments.

The UX is the content. Anything more would be fluff. That's not to say that's bad, but on this site it's unnecessary.

When you look at the source of this it'd be pretty easy to build an app that grabs it and rewraps it and that could be a fun project.

I think the simplicity and lack of bloat make it more refreshing than "modern" UI's, if a little more dated. Also as others have mentioned, there are plenty of wrappers that add more "material design"-esque skins (I have used http://hckrnews.com)

The commenting experience on mobile left me in pain. That's why I created an open-source HN app using ReactNative: https://shn.app.link/HN-ask1

What it really needs is a floating button thing like the reddit app has that moves the screen to the top of each comment tree.

I mostly use safari mobile to access HN and I've nothing to complain about. Links on mobile may not satisfy touch interface standards but oddly I get what I want most of the time when I hopelessly click.

HN layout is great. Much easier to navigate than Reddit for example. I wouldn’t change a thing.

HN redesign is a recurring theme but I like it how it is now! (even though 99% of my HN consumption (I'd say an average 12 hours/week) is from Premii's android app)

I actually like it this way. I think nested comments are hard to read, but that's the only problem.

No. I think the UI here is good.

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