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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

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

389 Responses to “A new look for Wikipedia”

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  1. Jero says:

    It’s beautiful!

  2. Steve says:

    At least on my Mac, the new stylesheet makes the text smaller by default. I know how to use browser options to make it bigger, but I worry that less tech-savvy users (e.g., many of the elderly) will be turned off from Wikipedia because it is now harder to read by default.

  3. Michael says:

    First impression is that I like the new look; a little less cluttered and a little smoother. I wonder if there will be a new look each decade, so then people can say “that look was so naughties”. It will be interesting to see if sites like Conservapedia will follow suit.

    But, when I visit http://www.wikipedia.org, it still seems to have the old globe logo (maybe my cache?)

  4. Tgr says:

    Top of the page is the standard location for the search box (check e.g. Facebook or Youtube) so the current place seems better to me. Getting rid of the labels was also a good idea. I agree it is too small, though. Even back in 2002, Nielsen recommended 25 characters at least ( http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20020512.html ) – Vector has 16. Even worse is the search suggestion box not expanding when the content does not fit. It makes longer titles totally unreadable, and the search suggestions don’t take any screen real estate when not used so there would be no drawback to making them wider when necessary.

  5. Maximka says:

    I always liked Wikipedia’s style. Now it looks better: light and modern

  6. George says:

    Put the search box back in the menu on the left (or have two search boxes if you insist). Please.

  7. Keinstein says:

    “Search improvements: Search suggestions are now improved to get you to the page you are looking for more quickly”, you say. But where is the option of searching for a word in the whole article space? If it’s still there, it’s hidden, and in either case that’s a new limitation, quite unnecessary.

    Otherwise, I haven’t looked around or adjusted yet, but I appreciate the amount of voluntary work going into things like this.

  8. Chris L says:

    When is the package going to be available for the rest of us to use? I’m tired of the outdated look and want to update mine (without using the beta). How long should we expect to wait for the full version?

    BTW don’t like the search bar where it is.

  9. John says:

    The only change I mind is the search bar on the top right. It’s counter-intuitive. That was extremely unnecessary, what was the point in that?

  10. Wow says:

    This new look is terrible, first youtube, then google….now wikipedia.

    Thank God there is an option to “take you back” this time.

  11. Joe Gunter says:

    I’m a writer, and several years ago wrote my one and only Wikipedia article (James Robinson Risner). Later became increasingly horrified at how it was altered (IT WAS MINE!)……finally calmed down and realized Wikipedia is not perfect, but it is important.

    I hope y’all give some sort of special privileges for older guys (and girls) like me, who have been here since the early days. I always edit publicly — I don’t even know how to “sign in”! — and don’t really care about my anonymity, credit-for-contributing, etc.

    I just liked the good old days when we signed every change:
    ~~~~

    - Joe Gunter

  12. JovanCormac says:

    I’ve been using Vector from the beginning and while some serious issues remain, I consider it far superior to the old monobook skin.

    However, please fix the “Search” box! The text inside is horribly misaligned in Firefox.

  13. Sebastian Gr. says:

    I totally agree with Eric and Abhijeet. Scientifiv research shows that web site users pay most intention to items in the top left part of a website. The search box being a very important part of the wikipedia pages, I really don’t see any advantage in putting it to the top right. It took me quite a while until I have found it, because I also started looking at the callapsible menus in the right part first. I am quite sure that you will confuse many users with this change. I really like the new look, but the search box should really be put back to where it used to be before.

  14. Abhijeet S says:

    I agree completely with Eric above. I had a tough time(few seconds)locating the search box because the first reaction was to find it in the collapsible menu items in the left pane. The top right corner was the last place I looked at. Overall the new look seems refreshing.Probably a shuffle of content boxes on the Main Page will add to the change.

  15. john herman says:

    I’ve been trying out wikipedia beta. for several times before its launch today. It is really amazing.The design is so good. Thanks the wikimedia foundation

  16. kuifje says:

    can you please make an RSS feed for the main page. It will be the most popular RSS feed in the world!

  17. Eric Berzins says:

    The new design is nice enough, but I really don’t care for the seemingly arbitrary relocation of the search field to the top right of the page. We in the west read left to right, so naturally start at the left of the screen to assess what we’re looking at – at least I do. Placing the search field where it is now seems counter-intuitive and more work to find, especially after having it at the left for so long.

    Also, the field is just too small. Searching is such a huge component of experiencing Wikipedia – obviously! As it stands, the search field looks like it’s just an afterthought addition to some forum or site where it’s not an essential function.

    Take some inspiration from this: http://allmenus.com/

  18. Andrew says:

    Looks good, I wonder if Media Wiki will make the “Vector” theme the default for all media wiki installations?

  19. steve says:

    The interface wasn’t broken, you shouldn’t have tried to fix it.

  20. I really like the new look. Following is a suggestion for display of external links.

    Currently, if a link is external, this is indicated to the user by having a special symbol after it. I find that the symbol is a bit off-putting in text. Another way to indicate externality is to have external links become reverse video, instead of underlined, when hovered over. There is an example (on my site) at
    http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3200.htm