Testing a new signup page for Wikipedia

Wikipedia doesn’t require to you to sign up for an account. We like giving everything away for free, and even let people edit without creating an account. But if you’d like to register, there are plenty of good reasons to do so.

The current signup page in English

The current signup page in English

However, it’s been a long time since the registration process for Wikipedia got any love. In fact, it’s pretty clunky, and it may be contributing to the decline in successful registrations in the last few years.

To address this, we’ve started testing changes to the account creation page on English Wikipedia this week. We’ve updated the visual design to be far less cluttered and expose a clearer structure, and reduced the amount of instructional text that appears before the form. As a side benefit, mobile users should find the page easier to use, though our mobile team is working on further enhancements, too.

We’ve also added a simple list of benefits to account creation, such as being able to start new pages, upload photos, and have a presence in the Wikipedia community, but these won’t appear on small screen sizes. In a second iteration, we’ll be adding live validation to the form, so you will know if there are any errors right away.

Our mockup

Our mockup

Please note: the new look is delivered only 50% of the time, as part of an A/B test, so the best thing to do if you want to give us feedback is to comment on the mockup here, or on our documents related to design and data analysis.

Some readers here may remember that back in 2011, a Fellowship project on account creation experimented with ways to encourage people to edit during or immediately after the signup process. However, basic limitations in the core functionality still plagued that project, not to mention anyone trying to create an account.

For this work, we’re focused on simply making the signup page itself be a less frustrating experience, with the secondary goal of gently introducing people to why an account is useful. After the trial, we’ll be permanently incorporating features that help more people register.

Steven Walling, Associate Product Manager
S Page, Software Engineer
Munaf Assaf, User Experience Designer

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10 Comments on Testing a new signup page for Wikipedia

Steven Walling 3 years


Framing items as a question without a strong action verb is not as compelling, I think. The username policy is not a suggest tool, but does in fact make recommendations about what your username should be, will help people choose one.

Cindy 3 years

I cannot even access the wikipedia site to look up info anymore! I am dying without it. What’s wrong??

Chad H. 3 years

I’m not sure “Help me choose” is the right text for that label. It implies (to me) that it would help suggest usernames. Perhaps “What’s a good username?” — this is still friendlier than policy but makes a little more sense.

Steven Walling 3 years


That copy change is a great idea. “Help me choose” is much more inviting, and if people get errors (duplicate username, etc.) it’s appropriate for that case too.

Mahmoud Hashemi 3 years

So much better. If that new look doesn’t perform better in A/B tests, I’m gonna have to turn in my UI Scout badge.

Could the “policy” be rebranded as “How to pick a username” or “Help me choose”? Not only does that seem in line with the newer, friendlier look, but it might get more people to read it/sign up.

Steven Walling 3 years

Hey MZ:

As outlined in the Meta page about our data collection and analysis, we’re going to measure the impact of removing that text by getting A) how many users from control and test groups were blocked B) filtering those blocks by the log comment, to look for the rationales that are related to username policy violations. In comparing the two groups, we’re essentially looking for what percentage of usernames need to be blocked.

As for cost: I think it’s pretty clear the user experience of the signup process is broken and ugly for those who have to try and navigate it. Fixing that is priority number one, and doing nothing is not an option in my view. That definitely doesn’t mean that whether we implement a particular design is not checked by whether it creates an untenable and unnecessary workload for the community. Ultimately, the data will hint at whether the messages are really preventing a significant number of people from registering with bad usernames, or if they just depress signups overall.

We haven’t yet added any smarter validation to the username field, but we’ve got a basic spec up on MediaWiki.org. First step is just making the fields validate on the client side, so that we can deliver _any_ kind of message before people submit the form.

MZMcBride 3 years


A lot of the text on the current account creation page has been implemented as a means of stopping (or trying to reduce) bad account creations. For example, the username box explains in great detail various prohibited usernames (domain names, e-mail addresses, etc.).

Will you be measuring the effect of these UI changes on the number of bad account creations? If so, how?

And more importantly: what level of cost was considered acceptable before choosing to experiment in this way? That is, it’s completely possible (and perhaps even likely) to see a marked increase in the number of blocks issued for username violations. This creates a hostile atmosphere for new users and wastes volunteer administrator time. What level of cost was considered acceptable before you embarked on this experiment?

Finally, are there any other (possible) issues that you’ve anticipated or attempted to mitigate before starting this experiment? Is the username field now “smarter”?

U5K0 3 years

I like it.
That is all.

Steven Walling 3 years

Indeed. Your work is going to be a key piece of data for us when we think about how to direct people after registration, Lennart. And the survey you did was enormously helpful in thinking about who is creating an account and why.

Lennart Guldbrandsson 3 years

Really cool. I look forward to seeing the results, because as the tests we did back then showed, simple redesigns could turn more people into active editors.

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