A series of new features and rearrangements to the Vector skin
It has been 10 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. Over the next couple of quarters, the readers web team will be researching and building out improvements to the desktop experience based on research and existing tools.
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 2021.
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.
March 2022: Development of the Table of Contents
The results of our 3rd prototype testing showed an overwhelming support for the proposed table of contents. Based on that, the team focused on developing this feature. The new table of contents will be persistent - users will have access to it at all times. It will also make it easier to understand the context of the page. In addition to that, it will be possible to navigate to different parts of the page without having to scroll all the way back to the top. We are expecting to deploy the new table of contents to our pilot wikis in the first half of April.
March 2022: Page tools feedback
The team is beginning work on page tools (sometimes referred to as article tools). Our goal is to make it easier to distinguish the purpose of individual items within the sidebar. We are currently collecting feedback on our proposed prototype. We look forward to hearing your thoughts! Please go to our prototype testing page and fill out the form.
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 touch 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 mid-2022.
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):
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: until early June, we'll be organizing meetings every 2-3 weeks. Tentative dates: , , , , .
- 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.