Wikipedia has released its first significant redesign in ten years, but it’s noteworthy as it doesn’t change the core experience but makes it better.
The new redesign looks quite familiar and aims to eliminate common frustrations. For example, a new header that stays in place allows for quick access to ‘search and article’ sections, improved search results include images and descriptions as you type, and the ability to switch languages is more convenient—a table of contents aids in navigating content.
The new table of contents section on the left side of articles, which facilitates navigation through longer content, will now stay visible as you scroll down the page, allowing you to see which section you are currently reading. In addition, it makes moving between different article parts easier as you explore a topic. While these changes are helpful, they could be more groundbreaking.
Language-switching tools were previously present but are now located more conspicuous at the top right, enabling readers and editors to switch between more than 300 supported languages. This could be useful in emerging markets where multilingual users may want to access pages from other languages.
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TechCrunch also highlights additional minor adjustments. For example, a collapsible sidebar allows you to remove distractions while reading, and the default font size is increased to reduce eye strain.
The Wikipedia update is being released for English users and has already been made available to 300 of the 318 active languages on the website. Arabic and Greek readers already have the new design as the default. The team is still seeking feedback, so the website may continue to change.
Other site modifications include a collapsible sidebar for a more focused reading experience and an alteration to the maximum line width. The foundation stated that restricting the width of long-form text enhances the reading experience and aids in retaining the information. However, a toggle option is available for logged-in and logged-out users on every page if the screen is 1600 pixels or wider, permitting users to widen the page. Users logged in can also set the width on their preferences page.
The Wikimedia Foundation emphasizes that no features have been removed and that the changes resulted in practical benefits during testing with international volunteer groups. For example, the redesign resulted in users searching 30% more frequently and scrolling 15% less.
The redesign aims to modernize Wikipedia by making it more accessible to the “next generation” of internet users who may not be familiar with the web, according to the developers. Regular users may not notice the changes, but new users may appreciate the ease of use.