Wikipedia in 3D

(Update: We’ve received a lot of feedback about how the new Wikipedia identity functions in different browsers, and we’re working on some minor improvements over the next few days.  We’ve captured much of the feedback below, and now encourage users to visit this thread on Wikimedia Commons where you can further comment on a revised version, currently being tested on our prototype Wikipedia.  Thanks!)

Later today you’ll be reading about one of the first major changes to  Wikipedia’s user interface.  A significant part of that change is a minor, but noticeable refinement to one of the most-recognized logos on the internet: the Wikipedia puzzle globe.

Our puzzle globe has an amazing story, and its creation and localization across more than 250 distinct language versions of Wikipedia is a collaborative design achievement. The original globe was created in 2003 following a historical logo-creation contest on Wikipedia.  The original winning design came from Paul Stansifer (Wikipedia User:Paullusmagnus), a design that was then revised to reflect the international breadth of Wikipedia by David Friedland (User:nohat) — the version users around the world have grown to know as Wikipedia’s puzzle globe.

Just over a year ago we saw a need to update the beloved Wikipedia globe, both to resolve some minor typographic errors found by our volunteers, and to develop a high-resolution version with gradient qualities (it is a sphere, after all) that could be used in a variety of new settings.  It was a perfect opportunity to build a new model that would be completely 3D in its design.  To complete the project we would need help from a 3D designer, and we’d go back to our community of volunteer contributors to examine what the 52 or so un-identified puzzle pieces might look like.

A new chapter in the history of the logo was written as volunteers examined languages and scripts that were not represented in the previous iteration of the puzzle globe.  Several small errors were corrected, and the Klingon character was replaced with an Amharic character (Klingon Wikipedia wound down in 2005). A great history of the puzzle globe, not surprisingly, can be found on Wikipedia.

The actual 3D construction of the new mark was carried out by a San Francisco bay area professional 3D animator, art director, and graphic designer, Philip Metschan.  Through his career Philip has worked for Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar, and currently he’s also a visualization and concept artist for the DIRECT program.

The results are fantastic, and now you can see many new languages and scripts represented.  The final state for our puzzle globe is quite similar to the original.  The ‘hero’ version closely resembles the shape, and orientation of the original.

You can review more details about the revised identity, and see some of its current physical manifestations, here.

Aside from the puzzle globe, you’ll also notice a small refinement to the text underneath the puzzle globe.  To facilitate the incredible work of our volunteers in localizing the Wikipedia identity into over 250 languages and character sets, it was decided to use Linux Libertine (an open-source typeface) as an alternative to Hoefler.  “The Free Encyclopedia” tag line has also lost its italics to facilitate better on-screen reading (although we’re pretty sure everyone on the internet knows those words by now). You can see the incredible volunteer effort of localizing these new Wikipedia identies unfold here.

This is a small part of the next steps for Wikipedia in terms of look and feel, but we hope the revised logo is a useful and more practical tool for our volunteer chapters and volunteers around the world. We’d love to hear your feedback as well, because like any great and visible logo, small improvements are always in store.

Our thanks to the whole usability team, Philip Metschan, and the dozens of volunteers who have helped make this project a reality. We also recognize the original efforts of David Friedland, Paul Stansifer, and those early pioneers who brought this identity to life in 2003.  We hope it’s a lasting tribute and a testament to the incredible impact this symbol makes on millions of people every day.

Jay Walsh, Head of Communications

Categories: Highlights, Wikipedia
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183 Comments on Wikipedia in 3D

George 6 years

I agree with many of the posters above. The new desing looks slick, but the new logo is not attractive and makes Wikipedia feel very foreign all of a sudden. I don’t oppose the creation of a new version (3D is good) but this should not be it. In addition to what’s already mentioned, I don’t like the strong frontal lighting of the globe, and the strong shadows on the edges. A little less will do just fine. Hope to see some improvements soon.

Psychologicoff 6 years

This logo really bad. Return previous!

CoE 6 years

I agree with Kalan: The logo change itself is good, and having a 3D globe is just awesome. The font change is also okay.

But please re-render the image, make it a bit bigger and less blurry.

Alphathon 6 years

I have to agree with everyone else – it looks really flat. I don’t know what it is, but it’s almost as if the divides between the puzzle pieces are just painted on. There’s no depth to them whatsoever. They just look like grey lines, not rounded plastic/ivory/”whatever material it’s supposed to be made of” edges. The pieces blend too well into a single surface and have no specific highlights or reflections either. Looking at it on the site it doesn’t even look 3D (looks like it was knocked up in Photoshop in half an hour TBH – the lighting looks light a simple circular gradient) and, more importantly, looks worse than the original. Could disparately do with some AA as well. Sounds harsh I know, but it’s true.

Alen 6 years

It is a perfect circle Camilio, but that’s exactly what’s wrong with it. It is a globe puzzle, not a perfect sphere. The letters should be equally thick and the pieces should not fit perfectly. If each one was rendered individually, that wouldn’t be much of a problem.

The interface is improved on a lot, though. Good work with that.

wwwwolf 6 years

It’s smaller, and it’s fuzzier. and it’s very very grey. You can barely see the edges of the puzzle pieces. The old one had more contrast. This doesn’t work as well in smaller resolution, and by smaller I mean “our darn $wgLogo, which – last time I checked – was 135px wide, tops”.

A big deja vu time: I said pretty much the same thing about the recent winner of the Wiktionary logo contest.

So, is it really too hard to ask for more contrast? Pretty please?

sanju 6 years

well…the change seems to be good..i welcome it…but as the search box is moved above..i dont see any use of left-hand-side margin now…i would say its waste of space…you could place to the links to main page, current events to top ..this will give us more screen space to the actual content…why would the reader want to have a margin?? if the website designers like that margin…then please keep the hanging-search-box in the margin…which will be at the same screen position even if the reader scrolled down…that would be helpful to reads a lot…

BTW … i loved that new logo…change is good !!! :)

Peridon 6 years

Couldn’t really care about the logo (sorry to the folks who have worked on it) – in fact, haven’t noticed much difference there yet anyway.
The top of page buttons and click words are a mess to my eyes. Washy looking and insipid. Why the vast gap between Discussion and the rest? Why a star for Watch? Plenty of room for the whole word. Don’t like the side bar, which looks bleak and unlived in.
Do like the better edit bar for posting, especially the nowiki. That was a damn nuisance to type out. Pity it all comes as a package. I want to retain the old look, but have the edit bar. Still, it’s better overall than Microsoft did with Vista….

Taemojitsu 6 years

Note especially that in the original image, the joins went from being dark in one place to being light in another place due to the concept of different illumination from the light source. This is absent in the current render, where the joins are all “faint gray”.

Ruben 6 years

From the very end-user point of view: the new version looks just blured.

rod rodriguez 6 years

I like the redesign. I come here a lot and didn’t see the difference until I saw the notice message. Upon a closer inspection I immediately saw the changes it looks cleaner and makes navigation a cinch. Congratulations!

Justin MP 6 years

The new logo looks flat and does not have the same strong iconic presence the old one had. Basic is better for logos, 3D is not always the way to go.

human 6 years

Ugh, at least ask the community to try and fix the errors and make a better 3d model than this. This looks horrible

Sonia 6 years

Oh wait, I basically stated everything that was different about the logo. Oops. The positioning, just to clarify, isn’t that big a deal; I suppose it’s just because the globe’s a bit smaller that I’m getting that empty feeling.

Oh well.

Sonia 6 years

Having used Vector since it first became available, I can say that the only thing I really noticed about the update was that the Wikipedia logo was naggishly flat. It actually, to be honest, looks much worse this way, if only because the contrast is lower. The details of the 3-d rendering are only seen if comparing the two images directly- as a logo, it doesn’t matter as much.

Also, the word Wikipedia should be a little closer to the globe; the italics on “The Free Encyclopedia” added a touch of elegance and made it contrast more with the title.

Reconsideration would be nice, or a remake.

But the rest of the update is very, very nice.

Camilo Martin 6 years

I couldn’t be unhappier with the new logo. It sucks in every possible way compared to the original, it just looks washed of all texture and detail. Sorry but I can’t give any constructive criticism other than PLEASE try again and this time, for real.

Notable issues:
– The pieces should have the same size (Hey I know “W” is the most important one but the logo should reflect equality!).
– It looks deformed, I haven’t overlaid a circle on it but I’m almost sure that’s not right.
– It looks poorly rendered, like some really cheap UV mapping preview.
– The ridges between the pieces look like they’re just a texture, not individual pieces that have been put together. Plus they are weak and dull
– Need more?

So please fix that thing for God’s sake.

Ciro Pabón 6 years

Thanks, Jay, Philip. I suppose it’s my imagination, but the white balance seems to me far from beautiful, although you would believe it’s technically perfect, given the credentials of the creator. Is that balance what blurs the edges? (i.e. the edges of the “bottom” pieces are diffuse).

I have a couple of questions: many (if not all) languages are represented, but how were the symbols chosen? Do these symbols mean anything or are they random ones?

And, what material is the globe made of? It doesn’t “shine” and the edges are unrealistically perfect. Compare with the image at the top of this page, with shining and imperfect edges (they don’t fit perfectly): it looks much more real.

Joseph Seddon 6 years

I have to agree that paradoxically the new version has no depth, washed less contrasting greys and at smaller resolutions is less easily identifiable than the older version.

Updating the logo is needed and I think that work should continue, but it should be a step forward and not backward. Releasing this logo should be put on hold for the time being until improvements can be made.

JovanCormac 6 years

I have to agree with Nihiltres here. Recreating the globe in 3D is a good idea, but the result leaves a lot to be desired.

The joints between the puzzle pieces looked far better in the old version; the bevel really added to the overall plasticity. Because of this, paradoxically, the old, 2D version, looks more three-dimensional than the new one.

Please revise!

Redskies 6 years

I for one am happy with the new update. Im currently enjoying the new interface and look.

The work on the Wikipedia Globe is a real improvement from the original idea of a slate finish.

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