New Look Coming for Wikipedia

The Wikimedia Foundation will implement a new theme for Wikipedia, Vector, during the week of April 5, starting with users who access the online encyclopedia through Wikimedia Commons.

Vector incorporates changes on both the editing side and the user side. A new editing toolbar will be added, along with a built-in cheat sheet for the most commonly used functions. For users, navigation will be simplified, the search box will be moved, and steps will be taken to ensure that the site displays properly in different resolutions, browser formats, and window sizes.

The Wikimedia Foundation expects to fully roll out Vector in late April, and users who prefer the classic format can return to it with one click.

Naoko Komura said in a post on the Wikimedia Blog:

These improvements have been in use by more than 500,000 “beta” users over the past six months, and have been localized, including right-to-left language support. (More localization work is welcome — please join our localization rally if you can.) 80 percent of users who have tried the new “beta” appearance have stayed within the beta program. These changes are also the result of qualitative user research undertaken by The Wikimedia Foundation.

On the English Wikipedia specifically, we’re also enabling the creation of PDF files and printed books from Wikipedia articles to all users (a service previously restricted to logged-in users only). And we’ll start the rollout of a refined version of the well-known Wikipedia globe logo, correcting small mistakes and representing new languages.

These changes are only the beginning. We’re also testing a set of additional editing and navigation improvements that we are planning to implement later this year:

We’re reducing the amount of wiki code users see in the edit system and making it possible to change data in tables and information boxes through simple forms.

We’re cleaning up the edit page itself, to use more understandable language and get rid of confusing clutter.

We’re providing a new outline tool to navigate a long article while you’re editing it.

We’re simplifying the search by getting rid of the confusing combination of the “go” and “search” buttons, moving instead towards one search button.

These changes will be available as opt-in beta features to registered users to allow wider testing, and will be validated by further user research before deployment. Finally, we’re also working on an improved interface for uploading images and video, and searching our existing multimedia repository. See the multimedia project hub for more information.

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