Here’s a quick update on how users of Wikimedia Commons (the image repository for Wikipedia and our other projects) responded to the usability improvements and user interface changes which took place earlier this month on April 5.
The new interface was introduced to anonymous users and users whose skin setting was set to default (MonoBook, the style that’s still visible on Wikipedia) at the time of the switch. About 10,600 users had been logged in sometime between when the switch happened on April 5th and April 14 th, a little over a one week period. We observed about 1,000 users switched back to the previous default skin, MonoBook, which represents about 9% of logged in users for the same time period. These numbers are still preliminary as we need to monitor for at least for a month to compare with the editor activity statistics for Commons.
We are processing the feedback and plan to publish it soon, but here are a few of the most frequently expressed feedback.
Q: Where did the watch/unwatch tab go?
A: The Watch/Unwatch tab is now the tab with the star as seen in the image below. Watch/Unwatch was once in the drop-down menu, but since the early beta feedback indicated that it is frequently used task, it was moved up to the top tab navigation. The star is used to minimize the tab width. For languages such as German and Greek, whose words tend to be long, the screen real-estate for tabs is limited. And using the star is one way to provide an universal solution.
Q: Why don’t my tools and scripts work any more?
A: Although the user experience team had reached out to the script writers and gadget writers in advance through blogs and messages via Village Pump, it takes a while for all scripts to be compatible with the new skin, Vector. We’re working on many of these features now.
Q: MonoBook was working fine for me, why change?
Multiple usability studies revealed that new editors with little or no experience in editing Wikimedia projects have a hard time navigating to get to the article and apply a simple formatting edit. The new usability improvements bring a simplified approach in navigation, the expandable toolbar depending on your edit tasks, built-in help systems, easy-to-find special characters, and wizards to add links and and tables. By making the editing experience easy, the hurdles to join Wikimedia projects will be lowered. By inviting more editors to Wikimedia projects, it will increase the potential quality the articles. Thus our ecosystem gets healthier.
Q: How do I switch back?
A: Follow the “New!” link, and go to “Take me back” section. You can also change your settings under appearance and editing in your user preferences.
Lastly, ArséniureDeGallium created a new Userbox template called “User Vector skin” for users who like Vector. Steven Walling ported it to English Wikipedia. The exact schedule of the switch for English Wikipedia is still to be determined, but it is likely sometime in May. We will send out update as the plan finalizes.
(UPDATE The survey feedback as of April 21 is available here.)
Naoko Komura, Head of User Experience Programs