A New Design for Switchboard: Friendly, Intuitive, and More Powerful

Switchboard has a new look!

We've spent the past year or so focusing on back-end tools like a powerful user directory, analytics and data export options, and goals tracking for teams that empower our partners who serve as stewards of their Switchboards.

This new design is entirely for Switchboard members.

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Most of the changes are visible on the main post feed alone. Our partners' wordmarks have replaced the Switchboard wordmark at the top of the page. The Ask and Offer buttons are featured more prominently and highlighted with gradients and drop shadows that borrow their straightforwardness from the pre-post-irony era of the internet. And, overall, the design is more spacious and light.

We have tweaked Ask red and Offer blue to look less similar to folks with colorblindness and changed the color of hyperlinks to their own blue. And we have used the sans-serif Rubik to replace our serif and sans-serif system fonts, as is visible in the post below. (Rubik hearkens back to our older font, Brandon Grotesque, in its playfulness while being more subtle.)

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Most exciting of all are the changes we have made to member profiles. They are more legible and better looking.

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As part of the process of revamping the profile, we also revisited the process through which people select and indicate what they are interested in. Switchboard now has a fancy illustrated interest picker. And if you don't find the interest you're looking for, you can add your own to the list.

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The interests picker is smart, so when you choose science as an interest, it suggests chemistry, biology, environment, and physics as other interests.

Subservient to interests, Switchboard now also invites members to share the topics about which they know and can advise other people.

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When you add an interest or topic you know about to your profile, you become part of that interest's page. For the first time, Switchboard members can find one another based purely on the topics they care about, not just the asks and offers they have posted. We have generally resisted making members visible in any sort of directory—directories, in their hunger for data, tend to overtake and swallow the purposes they are supposed to serve—but found an opportunity in interests to give people something like a directory that is focused and useful.

We also use language-algorithm magic to show members a list about the topic in question. The algorithm reads the text of asks and offers and figures out which posts are about what.

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We already use interests to show people posts we think they'll care about. With this revamp, Switchboard will only get smarter. This curation becomes important to maintaining a good signal-to-noise ratio as a Switchboard matures and thousands of users post thousands of asks and offers about hundreds of topics. What might be signal to someone else is noise to you—interests help us help you find what you're looking for without having to sift through everything yourself.