UI Design Experiments

In 2009 the Wikipedia Usability Initiative performed research on how to improve the usability of MediaWiki by watching users as they performed various tasks on Wikipedia. Each of the problems that were identified were then matched with potential solutions which were then filtered by technical complexity and user impact. During the development process, yet more features were filtered out because of resource limitations, many of which had even been designed, but never finished.

In a joint effort between members of the Wikimedia Foundation’s community and engineering departments, many of these ideas, as well as some new ones based on ongoing research are being developed and deployed as a series of brief experiments.

Comparison of section edit link designsThe first of these experiments is a redesign of how section edit links are displayed. The current design displays the section edit link on the opposite side of the heading text. During research, users often became confused about which section the link was related to, sometimes associating it with the section above rather than below. Other users did not find the links easily, or in some cases at all. The proposed design was to move the links to be displayed together with the heading text, and to add a small pencil icon to draw attention to the link. This feature was designed but never finished. At the same time as this research was being conducted, Wikia designed and deployed a very similar change to their sites, and reported a measurable increase in the use of section edit links on their wikis as a result of the change.

The experiment is scheduled to be conducted on English Wikipedia from March 9th, 2011 to March 16th 2011, during which time a small fraction of users will be randomly selected to participate in the experiment. During the experiment anonymous statistics will be collected using the ClickTracking extension. Data collected will be used to improve the user experience of Wikipedia and other sites running on MediaWiki. If you would like to abstain from participating in this and other experiments in the future, you can select the “Exclude me from feature experiments” option in your user preferences.

Trevor Parscal, Lead Features Engineer

Categories: MediaWiki, Technology
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12 Comments on UI Design Experiments

None 3 years

I hate all these new UI changes. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not an iphone widget

Trevor Parscal 4 years

Mandataire auto :

That is much better than the previous version. I’ve one question : do you always make tests on users’ behavior and comportement ? Do you think it has a big impact on editing ? Thanks for your reply.

Based on our own suspicions and initial data, no, I don’t suspect this will have a significant impact on editing. Our editing interface is currently a brick wall, and this just makes it easier to reach the wall. Once users get there, they will still be faced with having to know what to do and how to do it. That said, more data is coming in as we speak and we will be performing detail analysis on that data and sharing the results, so we will let the numbers speak for themselves.

Trevor Parscal 4 years

Jarry1250 :

Hey Trevor et al. Nice post, just doing the write up for “The Signpost” now :)

How do you respond to the question of “yeah, it might get x% more editors but it clutters the reading experience of millions”? By saying that there remains a net benefit? Will you test for reading impairment?

Just playing devil’s advocate, I’m sure you understand.

Testing for something like reading impairment requires qualitative testing. We are only performing quantitative testing right now, and will follow up with additional research that will better assess the more subtle effects of such a change. Remember, these are experiments. They aren’t designed to be absolute proof, just guidance as we explore ways to improve the usefulness of the site.

Jarry1250 4 years

Hey Trevor et al. Nice post, just doing the write up for “The Signpost” now :)

How do you respond to the question of “yeah, it might get x% more editors but it clutters the reading experience of millions”? By saying that there remains a net benefit? Will you test for reading impairment?

Just playing devil’s advocate, I’m sure you understand.

Trevor Parscal 4 years

Mandataire auto :

That is much better than the previous version. I’ve one question : do you always make tests on users’ behavior and comportement ? Do you think it has a big impact on editing ? Thanks for your reply.

We are paying attention to both the volume of clicks on the existing and proposed design’s section edit links, as well as save attempts and completions to detect impact on editing.

Mandataire auto 4 years

That is much better than the previous version. I’ve one question : do you always make tests on users’ behavior and comportement ? Do you think it has a big impact on editing ? Thanks for your reply.

вконтакте 4 years

Very cool!
Thank you very much!

Trevor Parscal 4 years

Nux :

Do you plan to add 0-section edit to Mediawiki?

We know that this is a problem. We have observed users who expect the link to be there and are confused by it’s absence. Primarily we observed this when we asked users to edit content in an infobox. We will be considering this, and many other things in our experiments, but I do not know that this in particular will end up being taken on in the near future.

Trevor Parscal 4 years

GerardM :

I hate it when there is no author to a blog post when multiple authors may have written a post ..
Thanks,
GerardM

This was written entirely by me (Trevor Parscal), and I’m the only one credited as author. I chose to speak in a third person voice. I apologize if that was confusing.

Roan Kattouw 4 years

GerardM :
I hate it when there is no author to a blog post when multiple authors may have written a post ..
Thanks,
GerardM

Due to some weird quirk in WordPress, the author is displayed on the main page of the blog at http://techblog.wikimedia.org , but not on this page.

GerardM 4 years

I hate it when there is no author to a blog post when multiple authors may have written a post ..
Thanks,
GerardM

Nux 4 years

I think it’s great! It might break some extensions that expect brackets, but I think this would be worth it. On pl.wiki we already have link on the left side I think we “stolen” the idea form de.wiki. I don’t remember any complaints, rather positive comments, but it was some time ago.

One question though – what about 0-seciton edit? Currently we left that on the right side. Do you plan to add 0-section edit to Mediawiki?

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