Wikipedia Desktop Gets A New Look After 10+ Years

Wikipedia has not undergone any significant design changes in the last 10 years, but the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, has announced that they will be launching the first major update to the desktop interface in over a decade.

Wikipedia has launched a new desktop interface that aims to improve usability, making it easier for internet users to find reliable and trustworthy knowledge.

The update was developed in collaboration with Wikipedia readers and volunteer editors, and is part of a series of ongoing improvements to the Wikipedia experience on mobile and desktop devices over the past few years.

Wikipedia gets a Fresh New Look

The new interface, which was released soon after English Wikipedia’s 22nd birthday, is aimed at improving usability and modernizing the Wikipedia experience to make it more accessible, easy to explore and share knowledge. The update has been rolled out today on English Wikipedia and is already live on 94% of 318 active language versions of Wikipedia for all desktop users.

The latest desktop update features several enhancements, including:

  • A search experience that uses images and descriptions to make it easier to find Wikipedia articles, resulting in a 30% increase in user searches during testing.
  • More easily accessible language-switching tools that allow multilingual readers and editors to quickly find and switch between over 300 languages.
  • An updated sticky header with commonly used links, such as Search, Page name, and Sections, that move with logged-in users as they scroll, which allows users to focus on reading and editing and reduces scrolling fatigue, with user tests showing a decrease in scrolling by over 15%.
  • A table of contents that provides context for the article and allows for easy navigation throughout the reading experience.
    The new Wikipedia interface does not eliminate any previous features, it instead introduces new tools to enhance the existing website experience through consultation with volunteer editors, data analysis, and user testing.

The changes were made in collaboration with more than 30 volunteer groups from around the world, including India, Indonesia, Ghana, and Argentina, who were involved in the conceptualization, product development, testing, and rollout stages.

The improvements were also influenced by global research insights and user feedback. This collaborative approach is unique to Wikimedia projects, which focus on building with users rather than just for them.

Speaking at the launch, Selena Deckelmann, Chief Product and Technology Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation, said,

The Wikipedia desktop update is one of the major improvements the Wikimedia Foundation is making to help people easily access the world’s knowledge, in support of our mission to make sure every person on the planet has free and equitable access to knowledge, regardless of where they live or where they are from.

“The changes make it easier for people to find and learn from the work of our incredible volunteers. These features were created with feedback from readers and volunteers from all over the world, aiming to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse audience, while keeping the simple and straightforward feel that millions of people have come to trust over the last 22 years.

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