MediaWiki/Homepage improvements 2018

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This page is about potential improvements to the mediawiki.org front page as per October 01, 2018. It is both about content and presentation changes. No intention of a complete redesign, but improvements to allow audiences to better find the relevant information that they are likely looking for. We might not be able to make everything perfect but we can certainly try to make it better.

Please discuss and provide input on the discussion page, based on the time line below. --AKlapper (WMF) (talk) 22:19, 30 September 2018 (UTC)

Scope[edit]

  • Content on the mediawiki.org front page itself.
  • Out of scope: Discussing whether mediawiki.org is a place purely for MediaWiki core and extensions and skins versus also a place for "other Wikimedia software". Feel free to start a separate thread or initiative about that.
  • Out of scope: Discussing the site-wide side bar content on mediawiki.org. Feel free to start a separate thread or initiative about that later.

Current problems[edit]

  • Duplication of content
    • Example: Three links to download MediaWiki (if you include side bar content), "Current version" duplicates what's already listed under "News".
  • Unclear link targets; links spread over a good number of navigation areas
    • Names of links should be more goal oriented when possible: Why should I click "Contribute"? Why should I "Use our APIs?"
    • Example: "support desk" under "Welcome to MediaWiki.org" vs "Help and support" under "Welcome to MediaWiki.org" vs "Get more help" under "Using MediaWiki". Does that imply that I will find a manual (read)? Or a place for questions and answers (ask)?
    • "Developing & Extending": Extending is currently listed in a more development oriented box, but I might want to "extend" my installation as a sysadmin?
  • Missing or hard-to-find content for some audiences
  • Content for same audience spread in different places
    • Example: The "News" box recently only listed new MW releases, only relevant for administrators. (That might change if News was updated by more parties (who to feel co-responsible?) to also include for example conferences/events (SMWCon, Hackathons, etc?) or if the section also linked to meta:Tech/News)
  • Irrelevant content.
    • Example: How many people care about the exact numbers and release dates of the latest MediaWiki tarball versions on the front page, and what does it mean that my version is not listed here? If people want to download MediaWiki they should go to the Download page. If administrators think for some reason they should upgrade MediaWiki they should go to Manual:Upgrading. I doubt anyone informs themselves about a need for an upgrade of their installation by visiting the front page and then manually comparing with their version.
    • Example: "For general questions about MediaWiki see the communication page": How that page help me exactly if some venues are already recommended on this very page?
  • Misleading content.
    • Example: "Add features with third-party extensions" - The listed extensions are not all "third-party".
  • Page does not tell you that there is also a community that in theory anyone can join, and not only software project(s).
  • Visually looks a bit more dated than needed. (This is highly subjective though and I might be proven wrong.)

Steps[edit]

Audiences[edit]

Define the main target audiences. Provide paths for audiences based on which actions they intend to perform / which goals they have in mind. Must cover both new people that have not been exposed to MediaWiki/Wikimedia before, and current users.

Time frame: Oct 01 – Oct 22 (Yes Done)

Announcements / call for comments

Regarding prior research, WMF Audience Research is high-level (audiences of mediawiki.org can be found "Build", "Use" and to some extent "Distribute"); meta:Research:Growth and diversity of Technology team audiences/Report#Stakeholder matrix is only per software project; semantic-mediawiki.org offers "General | Users | Administrators | Developers".

Proposal for main audiences to target

  • General (high-level info, across actions/audiences, mostly to inform potential new adopters/contributors)
  • Edit and use (users/editors of MediaWiki and extensions)
  • Administrate (potential and existing maintainers of a MediaWiki installation)
  • Develop (potential and existing volunteers and professionals who code)
  • More (Translators, Tech Ambassadors, Documentation writers, Testers, Researchers, etc)

Must cover both new people that have not been exposed to MediaWiki/Wikimedia before, and current users.

Results[edit]

Feedback showed general agreement on the major audiences (though with different opinions how to name the audiences). Hence the audiences are described by summarizing their actions, instead of trying to find names for audiences. It was also pointed out that other audiences should be pointed to better suited locations.

  • Edit and use MediaWiki (Users)
  • Set up and run MediaWiki (Administrators)
  • Develop and work on code (Developers)
  • (People visiting mediawiki.org for the first time)
  • Contribute and join our community (covering further audiences, such as Translators, Tech Ambassadors, Documentation writers, Testers, Researchers, etc)

Content[edit]

Define content to present to each audience defined in the previous step, based on most common actions each audience performs. Decide which recommended links and information should be exposed on the frontpage. Some links are better suited for being listed on pages linked from the frontpage. Some linked pages might also require cleanup, further or better content, or cover several audiences so they (currently?) should not be linked from the frontpage. Opinions differ – let's define a good initial version (which can always receive further iterations in the future).

Time frame: Dec 11 – Jan 01, 2019 (Yes Done)

Announcements / call for comments:

Proposal for content (per actions/audiences defined in the previous phase):

Further comments on the proposal above:

mediawiki.org offers lots of pages whose content partially overlaps or is outdated or mixes different audiences (though we have Help and Manual namespaces).

While data on the most popular pages on mediawiki.org is available, it does not offer yearly data, counts separately when a page was accessed via a "Special:MyLanguage" URL, and does not allow summarizing all translated versions of a specific page. Cleaned data could potentially be used to identify both popular pages that should be on the frontpage and pages which are less popular but are considered important or helpful and hence should receive more exposure.

For the records, some links were considered but not used in the proposal above (this list is not necessarily complete):

  • Project:About is about the website scope itself, it is already in the page footer. It is not listed either in the page views for 2018.
  • Project:Help is confusing, includes both basic info ("what is a wiki") but also mediawiki.org site maintenance stuff (like Project:Tasks and partially duplicates what was on the front page already.
  • User hub - not much content, mixes some helpful links to be better named ("Public domain help pages") with some out of scope non-user admin stuff ("Professional support and development")
  • Documentation covers users, developers and system administrators with a lot of details. Users don't search for (generic) "documentation" itself but "how can i do / achieve XYZ?".
  • Cannot link to any Wikimedia technology blog feed anymore as there is no such category on the new WMF site plus it lacks RSS anyway.

Results[edit]

No feedback apart from Topic:Uq7iqcshpshmf8pa asking to remove Tech News and proposing to make the first section an About section.

Layout and layout implementation[edit]

Time frame: Mar 19 – Apr 02, 2019 (Yes Done)

Proposal for page content and layout (per items defined in the previous phases):

Announcements / call for comments:

Further comments on the proposal above:

  • Clearer in both content and layout.
  • Limited number of links to more specific information to relevant pages, without duplication. Also make clear we are a community.
  • Only some minor rephrasing has taken place, compared to what was proposed under #Content above.
  • Tested desktop version on smaller screen widths and with the six deployed skins.
  • The CSS flex layout is well enough supported as per https://caniuse.com/#feat=flexbox and Compatibility#Browser support matrix.

Potential followups left to do:

Results[edit]

Previous attempts[edit]

Potential follow-up work[edit]

This section lists further related topics which could be potential follow-up items but are currently out of scope for this very project.