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.
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.
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.