Recommendations for mobile friendly articles on Wikimedia wikis

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This document provides guidance, from experience, on how best to serve mobile users as an editor of a MediaWiki wiki. It is compiled by mobile apps and mobile web developers with up to 6 years of experience working with mediawiki content. It is a practical guide building on some of the points inside Reading/Mobile_Friendly_Content.

On Wikimedia wikis over 50% of traffic visits the mobile website and in many regions is the primary medium for accessing our content. Despite this, many of our articles are not as mobile friendly as they could be.

Use common class language for components in templates across projects[edit]

The output of cs:Šablona:Cedule is similar to en:Template:Ambox however the markup is completely different.

The mobile website relies on describing content with the same language. To make the mobile experience consistent across different languages it's important to use a similar semantic language.

Given many projects copy and paste templates from English Wikipedia most "standard" names are English-centric, but we're very much open to change this to reflect the most widely used classes. In particular, the ambox names need a better defined language.

  • .infobox - a component that summarises facts (e.g. dob = 25th December 2018; name = Santa Claus Junior) e.g. en:Template:Infobox
  • .hatnote - appears at top of the page describing possible redirects or similarly named articles e.g. en:Template:Hatnote
  • .ambox - describes a problem with the page. e.g. en:Template:Ambox
    • .ambox .mbox-image - associates an icon with the problem e.g. en:Template:Ambox
    • .ambox .mbox-text-span - describes the issue (but not the fix)
    • .ambox .hide-when-compact - describes the fix for the issue.

Bad example

Template:Infobox

<div class="my-infobox-like-component"></div>

Good example

<!-- semantic infobox class added per [[:mw:Recommendations_for_mobile_friendly_articles]] for mobile compatibility -->
<div class="my-infobox-like-component infobox"></div>
{{Infobox}}

Don't put infoboxes or images at the top of the wikitext if possible[edit]

Putting an infobox first in an article, will impact the performance and readability of the article on mobile. Currently, the mobile software (Extension:MobileFrontend) takes care of this problem, but in some cases it fails, so if possible, always use this arrangement or if not, please check the ordering has been corrected on mobile by testing your edits on a real mobile device.

In terms of readability, the placement of an infobox first, exposes readers to details on a subject prior to gathering context or and introduction to the subject, which can often be confusing. This issue was particularly heightened for topics unfamiliar to users, where they would be required to scroll through the content of the infobox to confirm whether they are reading the correct article. We implemented the change to create consistency between the mobile and desktop websites (on desktop, the first paragraph also has primary placement), as well as to expose users to the subject of the article prior to requiring them to scroll through the infobox.

From a performance perspective, shifting infoboxes to a secondary position, improves the performance of the site by significantly decreasing the average page load time, allowing users to see the content on the page faster than before.

More information: Reading/Web/Projects/Lead_Paragraph_Move

Bad example

{{Infobox}}
My article's first paragraph

Good example

My article's first paragraph
{{Infobox}}

Meta data (including coordinates) should be positioned at the bottom of the article[edit]

On desktop, coordinate templates (Coord template) tend to appear in the top right corner of the article, on mobile where space is not available and the top of the article is limited, this is not practical. Positioning them elsewhere in the article body e.g. bottom would allow more options for mobile while still allowing the position on mobile.

There are other benefits for positioning meta data at the bottom - it helps algorithms that power Page previews and the mobile web site to identify the first paragraph which is important for summarizing articles.

Bad example

{{Coord|35|N|136|E|type:country_region:JP|display=title}}
My article's first paragraph

Good example

My article's first paragraph

....
....
....
{{Coord|35|N|136|E|type:country_region:JP|display=title}}

Use consistent ordering for hatnotes and ambox templates[edit]

In mobile, content can be styled differently but it cannot be moved. It helps the mobile site and algorithms that it depends on if elements are grouped together by type.

In mobile we expect any components that are described as hatnotes (e.g. Template:Hatnote) to be followed by ambox (e.g. Template:Ambox page issues).

If this order is not respected, the mobile site cannot optimise content and content cannot be optimised for mobile.

Bad example

{{page issue}} <!-- .ambox -->
{{disambiguation}} <!-- .hatnote -->
{{page issue}} <!-- .ambox -->

Good example

{{disambiguation}}  <!-- .hatnote -->
{{page issue}}  <!-- .ambox -->
{{page issue}}  <!-- .ambox -->

Inline styles should not use properties that impact sizing and positioning[edit]

CSS properties including width, float, height are problematic on mobile.

Padding, border and margin can also be problematic if larger values are used.

As a general rule, if your CSS uses a property with a value in pixels that is 100px or above, you should be testing your design on mobile.

Ideally anything that touches these properties should be using classes and Extension:TemplateStyles and media queries to provide 2 different treatments for mobile and desktop.

Bad example

<div style="width: 700px; float: left; padding: 5px; border: solid 1px black;">Some text</div>

Good example

<templatestyles src="..." />
<div class="mybox">Some text</div>
.mybox { width: 100%; padding: 5px; border: solid 1px black; }

@media all and ( min-width: 720px ) {
  .mybox { width: 700px; float: left; }
}

Avoid tables for anything except data[edit]

If you are using tables to create a presentational element, please don't. Optimising tables for mobile is extremely challenging and these presentational elements are usually broken by the optimisations we make for mobile. Instead, you should look to convert your table based layouts to div based layouts.

Usually, in lieu of a better solution, we have to regretfully hide these elements on mobile. Navboxes being the most notable example.

Make sure your main page is mobile friendly[edit]

There's so much to talk about here, this gets its own article.

Templates should use a single root element with a sensible CSS class[edit]

Wikipedia content is largely unstructured. One means of providing presentation hints for optimal parsing and display is to ensure that templates have only one outermost HTML element and that that element has a unique CSS class name shared across wiki languages. This can dramatically help software such as the mobile website, the Content Service, and the native Android and iOS apps to identify content properly.

Bad example

<div>foo</div>
<div>bar</div>

Good example

<div class=FoobarTemplate>
  <div>foo</div>
  <div>bar</div>
</div>

Collapse issues with a multiple issues template[edit]

When an article has more than one issue use a single issues template to collapse them. Issues can take up value space on mobile and when collapsed more options to mobile friendly skins can take place.

In particular this is a problem when articles are nominated for deletion.

Bad example

{{fringe|date=June 2018}}
{{rewrite|date=April 2018}}
{{Proposed deletion/dated
    |concern = Clear plagiarism 
    |timestamp = 20180829061154
    |help = 
}}
{{Unreferenced|date=December 2009}}

Good example

{{multiple issues|
  {{fringe|date=June 2018}}
  {{rewrite|date=April 2018}} 
}}
{{Deletion notice with multiple_issues|
    {{Proposed deletion/dated
    |concern = Clear plagiarism 
    |timestamp = 20180829061154
    |help = 
    }}
|
    {{Unreferenced|date=December 2009}}
}}

Do not assume positions of images, infoboxes, tables in text[edit]

Be careful when making assumptions about the presentation of an article. While two images may be floated and positioned in a certain way on desktop, it won't necessary display the same on a mobile device. Thus avoid sentences such as "the table on the right shows" or "the image on the left shows".

It's important to think of the article as being fluid and subject to change.

If referring to the image is essential, consider vertical stacking which is a safer alternative.

In this example it would make sense to use a single image rather than two, or to use vertical stacking

Bad example

<div>
  <div class="tsingle" style="float:left;margin:1px;width:102px;max-width:102px">
  [[File:Felipe Massa]]
  </div>
  <div class="tsingle" style="float:left;margin:1px;width:102px;max-width:102px"><
  [[File:Sergey Sirotkin]]
  </div>
  <div class="thumb-caption">Felipe Massa (left) is to the left or Sergey Sirotkin (right)</div>
</div>

Good example

<div>
  <div class="tsingle" style="float:left;margin:1px;width:102px;max-width:102px">
  [[File:Felipe Massa]]
  </div>
  <div class="tsingle" style="float:left;margin:1px;width:102px;max-width:102px"><
  [[File:Sergey Sirotkin]]
  </div>
  <div class="thumb-caption">Felipe Massa (top) is to the bottom of Sergey Sirotkin (bottom)</div>
</div>

Limit number of images in a page[edit]

Due to the fact that the mobile site lazy loads images, articles with large amounts of images will timeout on mobile.

You can determine the number of images in a page by using a JavaScript developer console and running:

$( 'img' ).length

Ideally, a page should have no more than 100 images (regardless of how small). Note if you have more than 10,000 images in your page, the page will be inaccessible on mobile.

In the case of tables you might want to consider using emojis or unicode characters.

Bad example

Rank Article Views
1 A Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg 3,895,581,597
2 B Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg Symbol b class.svg 62,210,344

Good example

Rank Article Views
1 A 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 3,895,581,597
2 B 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 🅱️ 62,210,344

Making page issues (ambox templates) mobile friendly[edit]

There are several rules to follow to make page issues mobile friendly.

Use the ambox class[edit]

Make sure the ambox class is present on the top level element of the page issue. When this class is present, the mobile site will recognise it as a problem with the page and deal with it appropriately.

Bad example

<div class="page-issue">
    This article needs more references.
</div>

Good example

<div class="ambox page-issue">
    This article needs more references.
</div>

Use supported ambox classes to clarify severity[edit]

For compatibility with the Minerva skin, which will screen scrape these templates to understand the meta data implied by these classes, ensure images have the class .mbox-image (or are wrapped in an element with the mbox-image class). You can add additional classes (per below) to ensure the issue is scraped with the correct severity level.

Purpose Class to use
POINT_OF_VIEW ambox-POV
MOVE/MERGE ambox-move
Medium severity issue ambox-content
High severity issue ambox-serious
Low severity issue ambox-style

Bad example

<div class="ambox custom-class-issue-icon-POV">
    <div class="ambox-image">[[File:Commons-emblem-issue.svg]]</div>
</div>

Good example

<div class="ambox custom-class-issue-icon-POV ambox-POV" data-severity="2">
    <div class="ambox-image mbox-image">[[File:Commons-emblem-issue.svg]]</div>
</div>

If present (and editors adopt this), Minerva can use this to choose appropriate icon

Limit page issue to two lines of text[edit]

Text beyond 2 lines should be wrapped in an element with the ".hide-when-compact" class.

Bad example

<table class="ambox">
    </tr>
    <td class="avviso-testo">
        <b>Questa voce  sull'argomento guerra è <a href="/wiki/Aiuto:Voci_da_aiutare" title="Aiuto:Voci da aiutare">da aiutare</a>.</b>
        <div style="font-size:90%;">
            <b>Motivo</b>: <i>manca la contestualizzazione dell'argomento, non si riesce a capire cosa sia. Mancano fonti e bisogna verificare l'enciclopedicità.</i>
        </div>
    </td>
    </tr>
</table>

Good example

<table class="ambox">
    </tr>
    <td class="avviso-testo">
        <b>Questa voce  sull'argomento guerra è <a href="/wiki/Aiuto:Voci_da_aiutare" title="Aiuto:Voci da aiutare">da aiutare</a>.</b>
        <div style="font-size:90%;" class="hide-when-compact">
            <b>Motivo</b>: <i>manca la contestualizzazione dell'argomento, non si riesce a capire cosa sia. Mancano fonti e bisogna verificare l'enciclopedicità.</i>
        </div>
    </td>
    </tr>
</table>