Over the years, Wikipedia has become in these two decades something like the platform that collects all the world’s knowledge and makes it available to anyone. During this time, the site has expanded significantly to contain enormous amounts of information, including 53 million articles in more than 300 languages. But while Wikipedia’s content has grown rapidly, “our interface hasn’t kept up.”
The new look of Wikipedia
According to Olga Vasileva, Product Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the layout of the Wikipedia desktop and other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation “have not seen any substantial change in the last 10 years, leaving certain elements of the site navigation with a clunky feeling and overwhelming for readers and publishers, whose main purpose is to create, learn and preserve content.
So the Wikimedia Foundation began a multi-year project to improve the Wikipedia desktop. Since May 2019 “we have been working to strengthen the Wikipedia desktop interface, focusing on bringing our content to the forefront and making the site easier to navigate. Our goal is to create a more welcoming experience for everyone who comes to our projects, regardless of their training or level of experience with the Wikimedia sites. ”
Changes and News in the interface
Among the news and changes in the interface of the new Wikipedia we have:
- A reconfigured logo
- A folding sidebar
- A table of contents
- Language links in the title bar
- Search enhancements
- New User menu
- New tools for editing
– The first change, a collapsible sidebar, allows users to collapse the long menu found on the left side of each page. This change helps improve usability and focus by allowing people to focus on the content itself, whether reading or editing.
– The second change introduces a maximum line width for content on pages where reading is the center of attention, such as article pages and talk pages. According to Vasileva, “Research has shown that limiting width can lead to better retention of the content itself, as well as a decrease in eye strain.”
You can see the full list of new features on MediaWiki. These changes will be implemented incrementally little by little, to “allow extensive testing and feedback from users.” If all goes well, these enhancements will be the default across all wikis by the end of 2021, coinciding with Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary celebrations.