Wikipedia Redesigned Its Website For The First Time In A Decade: A Subtle Approach


Wikipedia, one of the world’s top most visited websites, is having a change in appearance.

The online encyclopedia has long been the source for information by billions of people every month. And this time, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the Wikipedia project, announced the launch of an updated interface aimed at making the site more accessible and easier to use.

What it does here, is improving search, make the language switcher more prominent, updated header to offer easier access to commonly used links, updated the table of content section, and other slight improvements for a better reading experience.

This marks the first time Wikipedia is redesigning its website interface after more than a decade.

Regardless, while the changes may not be that dramatic, and that some may not even be immediately noticed by some users, the redesign certainly packs a punch.

The organization said that the update was necessary, in order to appeal new and younger generation of internet users.

For those people who are already into social media, the appearance of the old Wikipedia may look boring. So here, the change is especially tailored for those who are more newly coming online and may have less familiarity with the web.

The goal for the update, is to make Wikipedia look more modern.

By removing some unnecessary web design elements, the website is less cluttered. Not only that, the redesign also makes it easier for people to contribute to the online encyclopedia.

And more importantly, the redesign makes Wikipedia on desktop a lot similar to Wikipedia on mobile.

To develop the redesigned interface, the Wikimedia Foundation worked with more than 30 different volunteer groups from around the world, with users in countries like India, Indonesia, Ghana and Argentina, among others.

The makeover, which is also known as “Vector 2022," which is a reference to the name of the default Wikipedia skin, had been in the works for three years.

Among the changes is a redesigned table of contents section on the left side of articles, which helps people navigate through longer content.

The redesign makes that section prominently visible, even when users scroll down the page. This should help users see which section they’re currently reading, thus allowing them to jump to different section on the page in a much easier manner.

Then, Wikipedia also tweaks its language-switching tool.

This time, it's bumped up to a much more prominent position at the top right. This in turn should allow readers and editors to easily switch between over 300 supported languages.

Another change involves an updated sticky header. Here, Wikipedia is pinning its most commonly used links, like Search, the Page name and Sections.

What this means, users are no longer required to scroll back up to the top to find what they're looking for, allowing users to stay focused on reading or editing the content instead.

After that, Wikipedia's redesign also increased the default font size for better reading comfort.

Then, there is an improved search box that supports both images and descriptions in its autocomplete suggestions.

Wikipedia also made some change to the maximum line width.

The foundation explained that limiting the width of long-form text can create a more comfortable reading experience and improves retention. However, since computer screens have become wider and wider, Wikipedia is providing a toggle for users, if users use a monitor screen that is 1,600 pixels or wider. Toggling allows users to increase the width of the page.

Users who are logged in can also set a width in their preferences page.

It's worth noting that the design has been launched on hundreds of language versions of Wikipedia, before finally arriving to the English Wikipedia.

Given the size of Wikipedia, the organization is launching the redesign slowly but steadily. This, in order to prevent any disruption or alienating users, all in a sudden.

The organization is also making things clear, that no existing functionality is removed as a part of these changes. Instead, everything focuses on usability improvements and modernizing the site.

This changes are subtle, but in all, the features simply blend in together to a create a much more modern experience.

From the visual cues to the pinning of most-used links, to autocomplete search box and all, should make Wikipedia a lot more helpful.

The Wikimedia Foundation said this update led to a 30% increase in user searches when it was tested.