VisualEditor/Usability

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Usability of VisualEditor

This page shows the status of the usability of VisualEditor, based on tests with people who have never edited Wikipedia. The purpose of these tests is to determine if common editing tasks are possible for anyone to complete. (These tests assume that a user wants to make an edit and can find the edit button. See the design research page for more about the overall experience of editing.)


Priorities for improvement

Based on the status below, the highest priorities to improve are creating a citation and creating a link.


Basic editing tasks - high priority

Editing Task Rating Notes
Begin editing 2 Up-to-date
Entering text 2 Up-to-date Nielsen’s Heuristic Ratings

0  Not a usability problem

Cosmetic problem only: need not be fixed unless extra time is available on project  

Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority  

Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority 

4  Catastrophic usability problem: imperative to fix before product can be released.

Formatting bold/italic 0 Up-to-date
Creating new sections 2 Up-to-date
Creating a link 3 In development
Creating a citation 0 Up-to-date
Editing an existing citation 1 Up-to-date
Adding an image 2 Up-to-date
Saving 1 Up-to-date


More advanced editing tasks - lower priority

Editing Task Rating Notes
Creating an external link 0 In development Nielsen’s Heuristic Ratings

0  Not a usability problem

Cosmetic problem only: need not be fixed unless extra time is available on project  

Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority  

Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority 

4  Catastrophic usability problem: imperative to fix before product can be released.


Creating a table 3 Needs testing
Editing existing table 2 Needs testing
Creating a template 3 Needs testing
Editing existing template 3 Needs testing
Lists 2 Needs testing


VisualEditor on mobile tablet

Editing Task Rating Notes
Entering text 2 Needs development Nielsen’s Heuristic Ratings

0  Not a usability problem

Cosmetic problem only: need not be fixed unless extra time is available on project  

Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority  

Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority 

4  Catastrophic usability problem: imperative to fix before product can be released.


Finding things in the toolbar 2 Needs development
Formatting bold/italic 2 Needs development
Creating a link 4 Needs development
Creating an external link 4 Needs development
Creating a citation 3 Needs development
Editing an existing citation 4 Needs development
Saving 2 Needs development


Below are more details about testing each of these tasks.

Basic editing tasks[edit]

Begin editing[edit]

Confusion edit / edit source.

Entering text[edit]

2 - Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority

Positive Feedback Most users felt comfortable adding or editing text. "It looks like a word document."

Test 1 + Test 2

Finding things in the toolbar[edit]

2 - Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority

Positive Feedback Most users found the right tool immediately or looked through toolbar menus from left to right.

Negative Feedback When 1 user couldn't find something they looked to the left sidebar under tools, which has nothing to do with editing the article.

Test 1 + Test 2

Create new sections[edit]

0 - Not a usability problem

Positive Feedback All users tested had no problems creating new headings or subheadings.

Test 1 + Test 2

Creating a link[edit]

3 - Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority

Summary Users don't realize that the link's search results are actual pages on Wikipedia.

Negative Feedback When asked to make a simple link (to a title with exactly the same text as the link) some users were able to complete the task. But they were not sure that they had completed successfully.

"I was expecting something like a page. I guess this is already a link? But I'll just click Done."

"I don't know whether this is functional link because it doesn't have a page connect, it needs to be connected to some other page, but it seems for the sake of the test to have worked..."

Negative Feedback When asked to make a more complicated link (to a different title from the link text) only 2 out of 5 tested were able to complete the task. Only 1 of those 2 were sure that the completed successfully.

Recommendations Give users more information about the page they will be linking to. Design for links

Test 3

Creating a citation[edit]

4 - Catastrophic usability problem: imperative to fix before product can be released.

Summary Users cannot find the auto-cite tool.

Negative Feedback Only 2 of 6 users tested were able to find and use the auto-cite tool. Those 2 users found the auto-cite tool accidentally. Of the 4 who were not able to find the auto-cite tool, 2 of them found the dropdown with manual citations and were able to complete a citation. The other 2 users were not able to complete a citation at all.

"Oh I added a citation, I'm not sure how I did that. That was not super intuitive. When I clicked on this dropdown arrow and saw the different types of citations, I thought it was directly connected to the icon, like the bullet list icon."

Recommendations Go back to label "cite" on the toolbar. Address the issue of the icon and dropdown menu with design and testing.

(Will update with link to test)

Editing an existing citation – *Updated, needs testing*[edit]

3 - Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority

Summary Users don't know how to find existing citations.

Negative Feedback Users scrolled back and forth from references at bottom to citations in article, tried to do Find on this page, and were confused by citation tooltips.

Recommendations Show more information about the citation in tooltip. Design resolved

Test 2

Adding an image[edit]

2 - Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority

Positive Feedback Most users, after some searching were able to find a way to add a picture. Once a user had added a picture, some they weren't sure that they had successfully added it to the correct place.

Test 1

Saving[edit]

1 - Cosmetic problem only: need not be fixed unless extra time is available on project

Positive Feedback Most users saved easily and felt they had done it right. One user wanted to fill out a detailed edit summary and struggled to remember what she had changed.

Recommendations Allow user to see their changes more easily

Test 1

More advanced editing tasks[edit]

Creating an external link[edit]

4 - Catastrophic usability problem: imperative to fix before product can be released.

Summary There is no clear place to enter an external link.

Negative Feedback 0 of 5 users were able to complete this task. Most didn't realize that you could paste a URL into the link search field. Many looked all over the toolbar, and even the left sidebar and top navigation for some way to add an external link.

Recommendations Give users explicit interface to add an external link. Design for links

Test 3

Creating a table[edit]

*Needs additional testing* (Has been casually tested)

3 - Major usability problem: important to fix, so should be given high priority

Summary Creating a simple table is easy. A user gets a 4x4 table with a header row at the top, and it is easy to enter content. But more advanced tasks are hard to find.

Negative Feedback 0/4 users could find the way to change the header. 0/4 users could find the way to merge cells, add a caption or delete the table.

Editing existing table[edit]

*Needs additional testing*

2 - Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority

Summary If a table is set up correctly, it is very easy to edit content.

Negative Feedback 0/4 users could find the way to change the header.

Creating a template[edit]

*Needs testing*

Editing existing template[edit]

*Needs testing*

Lists[edit]

*Needs testing*

2 - Minor usability problem: fixing this should be given low priority

Negative Feedback 2/5 users had trouble creating a new bullet in a list. In a test asking users to add a link to the external link section of an article, they were hesitant to click into the section and add a new bullet. "I don't want to delete the text here."

Test 3

VisualEditor on mobile tablet[edit]

*Needs testing*

Currently VisualEditor on mobile is broken and unable to be tested.

Testing methods[edit]

Nielsen’s Heuristic Ratings are assigned to each task based on the design research team's observations of the user, and the number of users able to complete the task.