A new look for Wikipedia

(Update 2: The search interface was updated on May 20. This update addresses the problems where search query is truncated under some circumstances, and the problem that search suggestion is cut-off. Thank you for your prompt feedback.)

(Update: We have received problem reports and feedback that search queries were truncated sometimes and the search suggestions were hard to read due to the limited width. In order to mitigate the problem, the new search function was disabled and the search field was increased by fifty percent. We also have updated the new search interface which we are currently staging on the prototype. This updates address the reported issues such as truncation of search queries and the problems that search suggestions are cut-off. Prototypes in various languages are also available here. Please try it out and let us know your feedback. Thanks!)

Wikipedia has some new improvements, thanks to the hard work and dedication of over half a million beta testers and volunteers who worked with the Wikimedia User Experience team over the last year!  With a beta testing group of 635,000 people and an 83% user retention rate, we’re proud to introduce you to Wikipedia’s new look and feel.  As of 8:00am UTC today, the new features moved from beta and will be available for everyone to use.  This is the first major initiative the Wikimedia Foundation and its volunteers have ever undertaken for Wikipedia’s interface. And there’s more to come.

It’s been one year since we began the usability initiative, and we’ve rolled out the new interface to Wikinews (English and Serbian), Wikimedia Commons, and now English Wikipedia. That means that hundreds of millions of people around the world will now experience an easier to use, and more importantly, easier to edit Wikipedia.  Our most recent interface launch, on Wikimedia Commons, was a great success with continued adoption by over 91% of Commons contributors. Over the next few weeks, the new interface will cascade to all language Wikipedias.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Look and feel: We’ve introduced a new theme we call “Vector” which makes essential functions easier to find.
  • Navigation: We’ve improved the navigation for reading and editing pages. Now, the tabs at the top of each page more clearly define whether you’re reading or editing a page. There’s also a collapsible navigation for the left sidebar that hides items that aren’t used often, but allows them to continue to be easily accessible.
  • Editing improvements: We’ve reorganized the editing toolbar to make it easier to use. Now, formatting pages is simpler and more intuitive. And we’ve introduced a table wizard to make creating tables easier. You’ll also discover a new find and replace feature to simplify page editing.
  • Link wizard: An easy-to-use tool allows you to add links to other pages on Wikipedia, or to pages on external sites.
  • Search improvements: Search suggestions are now improved to get you to the page you are looking for more quickly.
  • Pediapress book creator: Create a printed book by selecting Wikipedia articles and adding them to the Book Creator.  Your articles will be turned into a PDF (or OpenDocument) file so you can easily take Wikipedia wherever you go.
  • Updated Puzzle globe and wordmark: The well-known Wikipedia globe and wordmark have been enhanced and improved. We’ve introduced Linux Libertine, an open source typeface to help support the creation of hundreds of localized Wikipedia wordmarks, and the internationally-recognized puzzle globe has been recreated in 3D and includes even more languages.  Read more from our recent blog post.

We kicked off this effort in April 2009, and immediately went to work to figure out how to make Wikipedia easier to use for everyone.  We started with usability testing among everyday readers with no editing experience, and we learned about the way people interact with Wikipedia and how we could make the experience better.  Using this valuable information, we incrementally released new features to users who opted into our beta testing group.  Over the next several months, we continued to improve the features based on feedback from both our beta testers and from usability studies we conducted.  We’re thankful for the input of thousands of international users and volunteers who gave us feedback on our progress.

During our initial beta testing phases, 81% of Spanish and Portuguese Wikipedia beta participants kept using  the new editing interface. Seventy to seventy-nine percent of German, Russian, Chinese, French and Italian Wikipedia beta users also maintained the new interface. Retention rates for Polish and Japanese were relatively low in the beginning (65% and 60%, respectively). Since then, we used feedback directly from our users all over the world to increase the quality of the interface and design.

If you prefer the classic interface, called monobook (without the enhancements), don’t worry, you can click on the “Take me back” link at the top of the page to go back to the previous interface.  You’ll also be able to return to monobook interface whenever you’d like.

With the support of hundreds of thousands of volunteers and the generous support from organizations like the Stanton Foundation, we’re making our projects easier for people from all parts of the world to contribute and access high-quality free educational information, which is central to our mission here at the Wikimedia Foundation.

This isn’t the only project we plan to release to make it easier to use Wikipedia, and all of our Wikimedia projects; it’s just the first.  We’ve built an FAQ and feedback page which we encourage you to use — any feedback is valuable and will help us make our projects better.

We’d like to thank the many volunteers who have supported the User Experience team since this project began, as well as the Foundation’s donors and supporters.

Naoko Komura, Head of User Experience Programs

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342 Comments on A new look for Wikipedia

Joseph 6 years

What the hell is seriously going on? Yahoo!, YouTube (several times), deviantART (twice), MySpace, MSN, among others, now Wikipedia? Seriously… what’s up? What is every other website overhauling their layouts and designs when there’s nothing wrong with them? On top of that, people who use these sites regularly almost always disapproved of the new layouts, so this is really frustrating that every month or so, a site you visit regulalrly has changed everything, and you have to adjust and get used to the new changes all over again… and half the time, a lot of these changes have no benefits whatsoever – in Wikipedia’s case? The new layout has RIDICULOUSLY tiny text that prompts you to adjust your view settings whenever you try to read a page… not only that, but like a lot of sites that have been overhauled, Wikipedia has also gotten slower as well, sometimes taking over a minute for a page to finish loading.

When is this madnesse ever going to end?!

Casey Brown 6 years

@Colincactus (#141): The error you mentioned was a very good point and it has now been fixed, thank you for reporting it! If you try your search again, you will notice that the search drop-down now expands a lot more so that you can see more of the whole article title.

Casey Brown 6 years

@Samuel (#383): That actually is what it’s supposed to look like, the two buttons were removed entirely. Instead, when you type a search query into the search field, you’ll get a list of articles that start with that word and also an option to search for articles that *contain* that word.

Antony 6 years

Slow slow slow slow slow! Pages take something like 20 secs to load, and scrolling is like going through treacle, at 100% CPU usage, I can see the text drawing. How many billion insctructions can a redraw need? Take me back!

Mark Robinson 6 years

Please put the search bar back to where it was before!

bill hubble 6 years

need some way to keep text large but lines short. Page or column width seems, to me, to be too wide. Am I missing some obvious way, that is “user-friendly” for “Dummies” less dumb than I am to control text size andcolumn width?

Samuel 6 years

I have disabled styling of buttons in my browser (Opera). I see on screenshots of the new layout that there is supposed to be two buttons. On my browser, however, I see only one button next to the search box (and it doesn’t have a label).

d'grace 6 years

print on wikipedia is much too large. how can I reduce the size

peg mcken 6 years

Used to be able to read Wikis quickly and easily.
Now they are in 200 font and I get to read two words at a time.

oibaf 6 years

Search is a category explore
not a more-info-tab
nor a options menu
please place it under the epic puzzle globe

o and it be cool if the globe moved really slowly

Mohammed 6 years

Dear wikimedia and users,

First thanks for the biggest and easiest library on the whole world.

secondly, wouldn’t it be great if the search bar would be replaced to the left, and scroll with you while reading…? It would make searching way easier. Furthermore, I agree on my fellow replier, who said the search bar is too small, if you would make it bigger I think it would increase “user-friendly-ness” (don’t know if this word excist but you got the point I think)

yours sincerly,

sajid bashir 6 years

aoa, my request is that the knowledge that a customer wants is not up to mark , so plz try to solve this problem, THANKS

Francis 6 years

I think i like more this graphical (i didn’t dislike the previous anyway). But, there is something i really don’t like and this is that, to see the other language i have to click. I would prefer to have them always visible. This is the strenght of wikpedia, and we “should” show it. So we all remember that we live in a bigger world.

Salanth 6 years

Changing the location of the search box is really disorienting. I’d rather keep it in the old location. Just because browsers have the search box in the top right corner doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea for Wikipedia. Having it on the left keeps the “wiki” feel distinct from a generic search box.

Mihai 6 years

I use a light text color on a dark background as default, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-on-dark_color_scheme. The new Wikipedia style is unreadable, as the text color is not set, but assumed to be black.

Moxy 6 years

Very nice clean look, however the search option no-longer allows you to generate a list, in other words the “Search” option is gone with only the “Go” option left.

NH 6 years

how about removing the “Notice something different? We’ve made a few improvements to Wikipedia. Learn more!” from this prominent place?

Naoko 6 years

@ Nishidani What OS and browser are you on? Let us look into the problem if we can reproduce the problem you are having. So far this is the first time we heard the problem you reported.

Nishidani 6 years

I can no longer sign myself by clicking on the tilde and whenever I click on anything in the wiki markup box, I get a ‘Do you want to leave this page?’ signal. Thanks to your improvements, I now have to mechanically copy and paste everything, cannibalising mark up matters from the text, or from the mark up box. I complained about this in an email, and no reply.

Ralf Baechle 6 years

Optically the old design was looking a bit old fashioned but it was very usable. I perceive the new one as a little empty looking. But that’s a matter of taste, I won’t argue. Worse is that the changes were not uniformly applied through all wikipedia sites yet.

Much more relevant I find moving things around for no good reason. And the language being collapsed so now I have to open them each and every time I want to go for another language. Don’t argue that it’s just a few mouse clicks to change that back. Usability must be default. There are other points but these are the 2 that are bugging me most.

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