Wikipedia to upgrade user experience?

by Trenton Moss on 31 March 2010

Ever used Wikipedia? I’m guessing for most the answer is yes, but if I were to ask whether you have contributed to Wikipedia, I’m sure the response would be a lot less positive. Well it looks like Wikipedia is looking to get users more involved by rolling out a series of site changes. The news that Wikipedia is to undergo its biggest interface overhaul ever comes as no surprise given the increasingly interactive nature of the Internet.

WikipediaThe changes are designed to make it easier to find information but also contribute to the site, with half a million users having tested the new layout for the past six months. This is a very smart approach from Wikipedia. Rather than just rolling out a new layout and expecting existing users to get used to it whether they like it or not, (not mentioning any names – largest social network in the world) this extensive testing of the layout known as ‘Vector’ has demonstrated to the Wikimedia Foundation that more than 4 in 5 users actually prefer it.

The Wikipedia team have clearly done their homework here as they claim to have “simplified the site navigation, relocated the search box to satisfy user expectations and to follow other web standards, reduced some of the clutter and made sure that the new features work with different resolutions, browser formats and window sizings.”

The thing is though, these are all very basic usability issues that probably should have been sorted out a long time ago on a site that has been around for more than nine years. Either way, it’s certainly a nod to the development of the Internet that a site that was built and entirely based on its content now considers its user experience as such a crucial facet of its continued appeal.

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