Wikipedia launches new look close to its 22nd anniversary

The Wikimedia Foundation, announced yesterday the launch of an updated interface aimed at making the site more accessible and easier to use

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, has debuted a new look for the first time in over a decade, in an effort to make browsing easier for users. It one of the world’s top 10 most visited websites, and a resource used by billions every month.

On January 15, 2001, Wikipedia was launched as a feature of Nupedia.com, but, following objections from the advisory board, it was relaunched as an independent Web site a few days later.

Wikipedia has received a major facelift for the first time in 10 years. The Wikimedia Foundation, an organization behind Wikipedia, said the new look improves the website’s usability for both contributors and readers. Wikipedia’s all-new desktop UI overhaul came close to its 22nd anniversary.

The Wikimedia Foundation, announced yesterday the launch of an updated interface aimed at making the site more accessible and easier to use with additions like improved search, a more prominently located tool for switching between languages, an updated header offering access to commonly used links, an updated table of contents section for Wikipedia articles and other design changes for a better reading experience.

The interface has already been launched on hundreds of language versions of Wikipedia in recent weeks, but is now rolling out to English Wikipedia, it said.


The changes being introduced are not very dramatic. In fact, they are so subtle that they may not even be immediately noticed by some users. The organization, however, says the update was necessary in order to meet the needs of the next generation of internet users, including those who are more newly coming online and may have less familiarity with the internet.

To develop the new interface, the foundation engaged with more than 30 different volunteer groups from around the world, with users in places like India, Indonesia, Ghana and Argentina, among others, all helping to test the update and provide insights into the product development. The goal for the update was to make Wikipedia more of a modern web platform, it said, and to remove clutter, while also making it easier for users to contribute. It additionally aimed to make the desktop web version more consistent with Wikipedia’s mobile counterpart.

Among the changes is a newly improved search box that now uses both images and descriptions in its autocomplete suggestions that appear as you type to help direct users to the article you need. This change, like many being introduced, is relatively small but offers a visual clue that could speed up searches and make them more helpful. The Wikimedia Foundation said this update led to a 30% increase in user searches when it was tested — a reminder that even minor changes can have larger impacts on a product’s real-world use.

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