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Some comments about v4 default theme (what is by the way got much better, compared to earlier versions, presented in previous v4 thread). I think some of the following can be extended to any theme, not only to default one. Of course this is my opinion only.
What we (readers) need from site?
Content (information) of course, with opinions, discussion, little flaming and so on.
Why we then cry about site layout? Because (IMHO) new layout has become aggressive, it suppresses content too much. Maybe it would be more precise to say - it destroys content flow (in other words makes site look cluttered).
What kind of content (information) we need?
There are some streams (and/or blocks) of information, which should be readable easily, without content breakage:
1. News headers (most important information stream after entering site)
v3 allows read headers in such a manner like there are absolutely nothing more on page - bold headers just line themselves up, pictures or dark elements are placed aside.
v4 theme breaks this lineup - theme pictures are laid out between headlines, text "XX Comment(s)" are as bold and intense as headers itself.
2. News summaries (second most important information block after looking at headers)
v3 has news summary clearly separated from other information. It's written in biggest and darkest font on lightest background, it's surrounded with non-aggressive border, it fills its area entirely. Other (unimportant) pieces of information, like submitter, comments count etc are not visible while reading summary. So do summaries not overflow one into another - there is strong visual barrier (darker background) between these.
v4 has summary (important part at this stage) written in smaller font than unimportant information. When I'm acquiring information about news content, I don't care about comments count or similar nonsense. Moreover, summary area includes theme picture, breaking text flow - and theme picture is not related to summary anyway, it's just little visual hint for first stage - reading headings.
Summaries area is not properly separated from other reagions. Alternating backgrounds for news blocks create little distinction for different news, but IMHO not enough.
3. Discussion flow (information stream again)
Putting aside somewhat unintuitive link to discussion (I expected to click news heading to land into discussion - false guess, but this is same on v3), I think next:
v3 allows comments reading in single pass, like reading book. Differently from main page, comment headers are not so important here - comment content is. Headers just make something like "paragraf breaks" - minimal effort to understand that next sentence is written by another user.
v4 breaks comments flow altogether (remember, I critique v4 default theme). There are no clear left or right boundaries for text flow; comment headers and footers are overly intensive, they break text layout and so on.
I hope I could make my points understandable despite my poor english. I hope my comment will be read by site authors
v4 has summary (important part at this stage) written in smaller font than unimportant information.
I have to correct myself: summary font (and some other) does scale along with browser default font size, submitter and comments count font size is constant. Because I use Opera with reduced default font size (16>14), for me summary is written in smaller font; actually it is probably just font sizing problem in css.
Of sourse this doesn't void ideas behind my previous comment (and doesn't make summary more readable).