VisualEditor on mobile/Section editing


In late 2018, the Editing team conducted user research to understand editors' experiences using the visual editor on the mobile site. The research showed several disruptive workflows and unclear features. These problems make it hard for editors to focus while improving and/or creating an article. Based on this research, the Editing team developed several ideas for improving the visual editor. The goal is to help editors focus on content editing, by reducing distractions and confusion about how to edit on the mobile site.

Project updates[edit]

16 June 2019[edit]

Final results: final Section Editing A/B test results.

A/B Test analysis complete

We finished analyzing the results of the Section Editing A/B test.

Our analysis concludes: contributors using Section Editing are ~3% more likely to save the edits they start than contributors using full page editing.

You can read our full report here: Mobile VE Section Editing A/B test analysis .

Section Editing full rollout

As a result of the above, tomorrow, 17 June 2019, Section Editing will become available to all contributors using the mobile visual editor.

17 April 2019[edit]

Preliminary results: preliminary Section Editing A/B test results.

Yesterday, we checked on the A/B test that started on 28-March. So far, we have not seen any clear differences in the number of mobile VisualEditor edit sessions or the edit completion rates between those contributors experiencing Section Editing in mobile VE and those contributors experiencing full article editing. With this said, the A/B test is still in its early stages. We expect to have enough data to begin drawing conclusions on 14-May.

3 April 2019[edit]

As of today, Section Editing is available for some contributors to all wikis. This latest rollout comes after 2+ weeks of monitoring the feature across 13 wikis.

We staggered Section Editing's rollout in this way to be sure it functions as it's been intended to (which it has so far). Now, a key question remains: Does Section Editing improve contributors' editing experiences?

To help answer the above, we are continuing the A/B test (T218851) that began on 28-March.

29 March 2019[edit]

As of yesterday, 28-March, Section Editing is now live for contributors to an additional 10 wikis: Albanian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Hindi, Indonesian, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Persian and Thai. As part of this next phase of the rollout, we began an A/B test in an effort to better understand how Section Editing affects editing behavior.

Q: "How does it work?"

A: "The A/B tests works such that 50% of contributors to the wikis above will not – for now – experience Section Editing, while the other 50%of contributors to the wikis above will experience Section Editing. You can see the technical details of how the experiment is being implemented in this ticket: T218851."

19 March 2019[edit]

Section Editing is now live on Bengali, Hebrew and Cantonese wikis for contributors editing on mobile, using VE. Increasingly larger rollouts are planned for the next several weeks.

15 March 2019[edit]

The user test that began on February 25 is now closed. As you begin to experience Section Editing in the wild (spoiler), please know your comments, questions, challenges and critiques will continue to be welcomed and listened for on the Discussion page.

13 March 2019[edit]

Quick update here: ~2 days from now, on Friday, March 15, we will be “concluding” the comparative Section Editing test that’s been running over the past two weeks (see above).

“Concluding," in this context, means removing the "Test Instructions" section above and, in its place, sharing the outcomes of this test.


Updated instructions to now include an A/B test format.


Added instructions for first section editing prototype. This works on mobile and desktop. Please follow the instructions and then add your feedback.

Section editing[edit]

After collecting community feedback on our ideas and conducting a usability test, the Editing team chose to fix section editing.

Existing workflow:

  1. Decide what you want to change, while reading the article on a mobile device.
  2. Then, scroll around the page to find the button that opens the editing screen. Sometimes, editors have to scroll through many screenfuls of an article to find the button.
  3. Once the editing screen is open, scroll back down to find the part of the article that you want to change. Sometimes, editors can't find the place that they wanted to change.

We believe scrolling a long distance to find the edit button is distracting. Instead, once you know what change you want to make, you should automatically be guided to the edit command function for the part of the article you want to change. This approach is called Section Editing.

The Section Editing feature for mobile will let you change any section of an article by tapping a contextual edit button. When you tap the contextual button, you will be transported from reading to editing, in the same part of the article that you were reading. You will not need to scroll as much and potentially lose your place.

presentation on the next phase of the visual editor
Presentation on VisualEditor, done by Jess Klein for Wikipedia Day NYC, 2019

User testing[edit]

Between February 25 and March 15, we invited contributors, new and experienced, to test two interactive section editing prototypes, each populated with the same test article.

Participants were instructed to navigate to a particular section within the test article, initiate the editor, complete an edit and compare their experiences with both prototypes.

The entire test was unmoderated and intended to gauge how Section Editing impacted contributors’ experience:

  1. Starting an edit
  2. Locating the content they intended to edit within the editing interface
  3. Completing their edit

Over the course of these ~2 weeks, 10 people participated. The feedback that surfaced can be found on this discussion page.

Preview of prototype[edit]

photo of prototype on mobile phones
Each image here represents a step in the prototype.


We are interested in your thoughts on the prototype. Is this a better experience? Was it easier for you to stay focused on where you were within your edit? Was this expected behavior? Any and all comments are appreciated! Feedback will be summarized on the main project page.