A series of new features and rearrangements to the Vector skin
It has been 12 years since the current default Wikimedia skin (Vector) was deployed. Over the last decade, the interface has been enriched with extensions, gadgets and user scripts. Most of these were not coordinated visually or cross-wiki. At the same time, web design, as well as the expectations of readers and editors, have evolved. We think it's time to take some of these ideas and bring them to the default experience of all users, on all wikis, in an organized, consistent way.
Our goals are to make Wikimedia wikis more welcoming and to increase the utility amongst readers and maintain utility for existing editors. We measure the increase of trust and positive sentiment towards our sites, and the utility of our sites (the usage of common actions such as search and language switching).
Currently, on most wikis, only logged-in users are able to opt-in individually. On selected wikis, our changes are deployed for all by default, and logged-in users are able to opt-out. We are hoping to increase the set of early adopter wikis gradually, until our improvements are default on all wikis in July 2022.
August 2022: Wikimania, visual refinements, and more changes
Having the structural changes to the features done, we are finishing development of Vector 2022. In particular:
- We are working on the visual refinements. We will be changing the styles, link colors, font size, content area width, and more. This is based on the results of the feedback we received from our last round of prototype testing.
- We are releasing updates to the table of contents (ToC) based on the feedback we've received from communities. These updates will make the ToC easier to use on smaller and larger screens. There will be more customization than before. Over the next few weeks, you will see the following changes:
- The table of contents will be collapsible at all screen sizes
- Once collapsed, the ToC will be available at the top of the page, next to the article title, as well as in the sticky header
- The Editing team, whose focus is currently on improving talk pages, has added an "add topic" button to the sticky header on talk pages. This will make it easier to start a new topic on a talk page from any part of the page, without having to scroll to the very top. See their project page for more information on this change and the project overall.
We have also continued discussions on how to make Vector 2022 the default for more communities. Your feedback is helping us make the skin better. We appreciate that. Let's meet again! On Saturday August 13, we are having a session at Wikimania, and a separate meeting for questions and answers right after that.
July 2022: Page title/tabs switch
We are deploying one of our latest updates. The page title will be displayed above the tabs such as Discussion, Read, Edit, View history, or More.
With this change, we are improving two things. First, we are making it clear that the items in the tabs are related to the the page that's being viewed. It's becoming apparent when we put the page title first. This change also makes switching languages easier. It moved the language button into an even more prominent position at the top of the page. Learn more on Phabricator.
We have been introducing this change in small steps. Since the last days of June, it's been available to all users opted into the Vector 2022 skin, and some early adopter wikis. During the week of July 4, the change will become visible on all the early adopter wikis.
In addition to that, our next office hours will be on July 26 instead of July 12. This will allow us to prepare the communication about making Vector 2022 the default across more wikis. We are also working on better language support for office hours in the future. More information on this coming soon!
April 2022: Table of Contents is available
We have deployed the new table of contents. It makes it easier to gain context of the contents of a page and navigate the page without needing to scroll to the top.
It is currently available to three groups of users. First, all who use Vector 2022 and are not on our pilot wikis. Second and third - 50% of logged-in users of Hebrew and Basque Wikipedias. Next week, we will be A/B testing the table of contents across the rest of our pilot wikis. We would like to check if there's a decrease in the need to scroll to the top of the page.
Before all that, we prepared a series of prototype tests with both readers and editors. To read more about how we worked on the feature based on feedback, please see the project page.
Now, we are working on the feature based on the feedback from users mentioned in the second paragraph. In particular:
- ToC on narrower screens. We have increased the threshold for which the ToC currently hides to 1000px. (See T306904 for more context). This was to make it more comfortable to read on narrower screens. This is a temporary fix, though. The conversation about the best solution will continue in T306660. By the end of April/early May we hope to have clear next steps on our preference of the options presented there.
- We are beginning the work on reducing the margins for screens between 1000px - 1200px. This will make the table of contents smaller and create more space for text. We will track this in T307004 and will probably have the implementation ready within a few days.
What is our objective?
Imagine a wardrobe
We would like to gradually rearrange this…
…into this :)
Currently, the interface…
…doesn't match the expectations. …is cluttered and not intuitive. …doesn't highlight the community side. …isn't consistent with the mobile version.
- The desktop interface does not match the expectations created by the modern web platforms. It feels disorienting and disconnected. Navigation and interface links are organized haphazardly.
- There is clutter that distracts users from focusing on what they came for. It is challenging for readers to focus on the content. It is not possible for them to intuitively switch languages, search for content, or adjust reading settings. New editors are unable to use their intuition to set up their account, open the editor, or learn how to use non-article pages for moderation purposes.
- A very small percentage of readers understand how Wikimedia wikis function. Many readers are not aware that the content they are reading is written by volunteers and updated frequently, or that they can potentially contribute as well.
- The large difference in experiences among our desktop interface, apps, and the mobile web, makes it difficult for readers to connect our products. There is a lack of unity in the concept of Wikimedia sites.
How the changes are made
We do not touch the content. We do not remove any functionality. We do not change skins other than Vector. We are inspired by the existing gadgets. We do not make major changes in single steps.
- We are working on the interface only. No work will be done in terms of styling templates, the structure of page contents, map support, or cross-wiki templates.
- Though our changes are easily noticeable, we are taking an evolutionary approach and want the site to continue feeling familiar to readers and editors. Each feature is discussed, developed, and deployed separately.
- Elements of the interface might move around, but all navigational items and other functionality currently available by default will remain.
- Skins other than Vector are out of the scope of our adjustments. We have frozen Vector to Legacy Vector, and begun deploying our features as parts of the new default Vector.
- We have analysed many wikis and have noticed many useful gadgets. Some of them definitely deserve to be surfaced and be a part of default experience.
- Both prior to development and after deployment, we collect data (via A/B testing, prototype feedback rounds, etc.). In the case of significantly negative results, we will roll back our changes.
- It is our intention to test our improvements in collaboration with a diverse set of volunteering early adopter wikis, both Wikipedias and sister projects.
|the majority of wikis||early adopter wikis|
|editors or readers
don't see our changes by default
|editors and readers|
see our changes by default
|only editors can opt-in
(from user preferences, by checking Vector (2022) in the Appearance tab)
|only editors can opt-out|
(using Switch to old look in the sidebar, or directly from their users preferences)
Deployment plan and timeline
We would like our improvements to be default on all wikis in August/September 2022.
|July 2022||Grid deployment||Process conversations,
|Meetings with communities|
|Deployment conversations||Wikimania workshop|
|Bug fixing||Meetings with communities|
on all wikis in batches
List of early adopter wikis (test wikis)
First group of wikis (marked as ◇ on the timeline above):
Second group of wikis (marked as ◇◇ on the timeline above):
Third group of wikis (marked as ◇◇◇ on the timeline above):
Fourth group of wikis (marked as ◇◇◇◇ on the timeline above):
Get involved & Contact
- Test individually: in Preferences, check the option Vector (2022). You can also enable our changes using the Global preferences.
- Join online meetings with us: we organize meetings every 2-3 weeks.
- Promote: Inform your community. Share our updates and blog posts.
- Report bugs: to report a bug, create a task in Phabricator and add project.
- Early adoption: We are hoping to increase the set of early adopter wikis gradually. Do you think your community might be interested in having our interface as default? Please contact us!
Community Relations Specialist
- Translate: help us translate related pages:
What features will be added
We have not created a complete, detailed product specification. Each feature is built and implemented separately, over time. Features which have been created are still being adjusted and improved. Our decisions are based on community feedback, user testing, and extracted API data.