First launched during January 2001, Wikipedia completely revolutionized what it meant to be an online resource. The site, at its core, had remained the same over the years: people would create pages for historic events, scientific terms, films, actors, and anything else you could think of.
Over 19 years later, the site is host to 53 million articles across over 300 languages.
Its last redesign, which most of us are familiar with today, was completed ten years ago. Now, the site is in the process of enacting an entirely new desktop makeover, one that will take place in batches all the way up to the end of 2021, to give users the chance to test out all the new features.
“While Wikipedia’s content has grown rapidly, our interface has not kept pace,” Olga Vasileva, Lead Product Manager at the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a blog post. “We’re proud that our website is more direct, simple, and advertisement-free than the rest of the internet. Yet, the design of desktop Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects have not seen any substantive changes for the past 10 years, leaving certain elements of the site’s navigation feeling clunky and overwhelming to readers and editors whose main purpose is to create, learn, and curate content.”
Wikipedia hopes that all the improvements will be fully ready to use on all wikis by the end of 2021, timed with the site’s 20th birthday celebrations.
So far, some of the early changes have been implemented on the Basque Wikipedia, Farsi Wikipedia, French Wikipedia, Hebrew Wikipedia, French Wiktionary, and Portuguese Wikiversity.
The new features include a collapsible sidebar, which allows users to collapse the menu found on the left side of each page. This change helps reduce clutter on a single webpage while improving usability and focus by allowing people to concentrate on the content itself.
To improve readability, Wikipedia will also introduce a maximum line width to our content on pages where reading is the focus, such as article pages and discussion pages, so that a user’s eyes don’t have to travel from either screen end to read a single line of text. According to Wikipedia, “Research has shown that limiting the width can lead to better retention of the content itself, as well as a decrease in eye strain.”
You can find the rest of the proposed changes here.