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Wikipedia’s Subtle Makeover: A Fresh Look After A Decade

by Alice Jackson Tweet - in Website Redesign

Last updated on August 2nd, 2023

Wikipedia is a widely recognized online encyclopedia known for its up-to-date information. The site attracts billions of monthly users looking for detailed information on any topic. Its formal appearance encourages visitors’ attention to the text. Now, Wikipedia has made some changes to the interface to make it more user-friendly.

The updated interface of Wikipedia has made it easily accessible by adding new features. The new features enable users easily navigate and access information. It is now much easier to search the site for information. The tool to switch between languages is visible now. Then, all the commonly used links are quickly accessible on the updated header. Many other Wikipedia redesign changes now make Wikipedia a more user-friendly and easily accessible site.

However, the site did not make radical changes. The site made some minor but crucial tweaks. The users notice these changes slowly. Still, according to the site, the updates were necessary to make it compatible with the new generation of users. The designers had internet users and first-time website users in mind while making the changes.

What Is Wikipedia’s Mission?

Wikipedia website was launched on January 15, 2001. Since then, it has registered tremendous growth in searches, number of users, languages, and pages. The world’s largest reference site currently hosts over 61 million articles, attracting more than a billion visitors monthly. The site publishes articles in more than 300 languages.

The website regularly creates and updates its content, so articles about new events instantly appear. Wikipedia is one site where anyone with internet access can change or write new articles. Only in a few cases, the site allows users to edit articles with its permission to prevent vandalism.

Anyone can visit the Wikipedia website and edit its content, references, and images. The site believes that content is essential no matter who writes it. However, the articles written or edited must align with Wikipedia’s policies. These policies include verifiable content and published sources. Personal opinions, beliefs, and experiences do not matter here.

So, it is a popular website with users regularly visiting it to get updated information on any issue. The site also has stated its purpose clearly.

Wikipedia’s mission is “to create and distribute a free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality to every single person on the planet in their own language ….It is also the goal of the Wikipedia community: to build and distribute the best encyclopedia that we can. This is a crucial role Wikipedians are fulfilling in the world. So, when editors get bogged down in a conflict while editing Wikipedia, it might help to think about another quote by Jimbo (from the same interview as the initial quote above)”.

Why Has Wikipedia Made Changes To Its Website Design?

Wikipedia Foundation took the services of more than 30 volunteer groups from different fields to tweak the interface. These volunteers were from India, Indonesia, Argentina, Ghana, etc. They all were involved in testing the updates and gave their insights and feedback.

The intention behind the new Wikipedia design was to make the website compatible with modern internet users’ requirements. It also aimed at making the site look simple by removing the clutter. The foundation also wanted users to contribute easily due to the updated interface.

Also, the foundation wanted to make the desktop and mobile versions of the site consistent.

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What Are The Significant Changes Made?

The changes Wikipedia made to its website are not instantly visible to regular users. But when you start using the site, you notice them. So, here are the changes:

Improved Search Box

Wikipedia now has a new search box with different search features. The search box lets visitors use descriptions and images in the site’s autocomplete suggestions. The suggestions automatically appear as the user types in the search box. This way, the search box can direct the users to the article they are seeking.

This might be a small and unnoticeable change, but it helps speed up the searches. According to Wikipedia Foundation, this minor change alone had led to a significant 30% increase in user searches when tested.

Header Made Sticky

The header is now sticky. It remains visible even when you scroll down the page to the end. An advantage of the sticky header is that you can still see the links, such as the Page name, Search, and Sections while scrolling. It stays pinned and visible at the top of the page, helping users read or edit the text.

Wikipedia Foundation noticed that this minor change saved users time navigating between different sections and pages during the testing phase.

Website design

Language-Switching Tools Relocated

A significant change is the location of the language-switching tools, which is crucial for this website. Visitors want to have the information in different languages. So, they should access this tool easily.

The updated Wikipedia website now has the language-switching tools at the top right, where they are instantly noticeable. Since the top right corner is a prominent corner on a website page, users can quickly locate it to switch between hundreds of languages.

New Table Of The Content Section

The changes in Wikipedia’s new layout are also about how the table of contents appears on the website. Currently, the content table is on the articles’ left side so that users can easily navigate long-form content.

But now, the content table will still be visible as you scroll the page downward. So the users can know the section of the content while reading and scrolling down. The user can now smoothly move between an article’s different parts while reading it.    

Collapsible Sidebar

Another helpful Wikipedia change to its page design is the sidebar. It is now a collapsible sidebar. Now, the users can have a better reading experience since the sidebar is no longer distracting. Also, due to the removal of sidebars, the width of the content has increased. That has resulted in the shortening of the article length. The readers can only scroll down a little to access the entire long-form text. 

But every page has a toggle allowing users to log in and out. The toggle is for users reading the text on a monitor of 1600 pixels or wider. Those users can use the toggle to increase the page width of their choice of page.

These are the significant changes Wikipedia made to its website, which have helped users. These changes aimed to make the site compatible with the new generation of internet users.

You should also look at your business website to check if you should update its layout, content, and visuals. Find out if its logo needs some redesigning to make it appealing to the modern target audience.

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Wrapping Up

Wikipedia is a popular website where millions find helpful, updated information on all topics. The site has changed its layout and features to make them easily accessible and compatible with modern internet users. These changes are not immediately noticeable but are helpful.

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels, Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1



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