Over the past two decades, Wikipedia has remained an important and widely used resource of knowledge around the world. During this time, the site has expanded significantly and now contains an unprecedented amount of reliable and comprehensive information presented in 53 million articles in more than 300 languages. While Wikipedia’s content is growing rapidly, our interface is lagging behind. We pride ourselves on the fact that our site is much simpler and more ad-free than the rest of the Internet. However, the design of the desktop version of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects has not undergone any significant changes over the past 10 years, as a result, some of the site navigation elements seem clumsy and overwhelming for readers and editors whose main goal is to create, study and check content. …
The design of the desktop version of the site is especially important for new users who have entered the Internet for the first time in the last decade. For these users, much of the wide range of features on the site can seem overwhelming and difficult to understand. In order to invite them to our projects and encourage them to return, we need to provide not only great content and a fun and easy-to-use experience, but also an experience that matches their vision of a modern, trustworthy and welcoming website. At the same time, we want to preserve the core of our identity and evolve so that the final product looks like a Wikimedia project. We want to create an experience that is familiar to our longtime users, but at the same time simple and intuitive for newbies.
With these goals in mind, the Wikimedia Foundation began a multi-year project to improve the desktop version of Wikipedia. Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the interface, with a focus on bringing content to the fore and making it easier to navigate the site. Our goal is to create a more welcoming experience for visitors to our projects, regardless of knowledge and experience with Wikimedia sites.
Upcoming changes include a redesigned logo, foldable sidebar, table of contents, and more! You can see the full list of new features on MediaWiki. These changes will be rolled out gradually over a long period of time to ensure widespread user testing and feedback. If all goes according to plan, these improvements will become the default for all wikis by the end of 2021, in time for Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary celebration.
We recently implemented the first of many changes to a number of projects: Wikipedia in Basque, Farsi, French, Hebrew, Wiktionary in French, and Wikiversity in Portuguese. Users with accounts in other projects can also view these changes by selecting the latest Vector skin in their user preferences.
Our first change, the collapsible sidebar, will allow users to collapse the long menu that sits on the left side of every page. This change helps improve usability and allows people to focus on the content itself, be it reading or editing.
The second change adds a setting for the maximum line width of content on pages that focus on reading, such as article pages and talk pages. Studies have shown that limiting the width can lead to better memory of the content itself, as well as reduce eye strain.
These are the first of many changes to come. It will be a long and difficult process. There will be errors, adjustments and iterations. We invite everyone who is interested in our projects to try out the changes and leave feedback. Do you have additional questions about improving the desktop version of the site? Check out the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions and see all the changes on MediaWiki.