Wikipedia's redesign prototype


#1

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#2

“set user name” doesn’t work. Not an auspicious start.


#3

I suppose if you’re the in-house designer you have to redesign things every year or two, or you’re fired. This may not be what the users need. Cf: BoingBoing.


#5

So I can see the new design proposal, but does anyone know where I can comment on it?


#6

This redesign sucks. Let me illustrate why with 2 images:

Current wikipedia:

New design:

Why oh why can’t web designers respect the fact that my screen width has value? It may be true that usually I browse wikipedia as a full screen webpage, but this is not always the case. I might have an IRC chat window, a window for coding, all sorts of stuff, all vying for position on my screen. Why use up precious inches on an utterly useless template box? The existing design already wastes screen estate.


#7

yep. Ship it.


#8

Yeah; the “set user name” bug is fixed; it was a holdover from an older testing platform.

The screen getting wonky is a bug related to the sidebar not behaving with the core responsive changes. I’m working on it right now.

This is a prototyping tool, by the way, and not a final product. It’s function is to allow us to rapidly create and test ideas in the interface and how well they work.


#9

There’s a feedback link in the sidebar, and that links directly to https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Winter - which you’ve apparently already found because I answered a question by you there already.


#10

I agree that that’s unacceptable. Fortunately, the talk page says: “You’re encountering a bug that I hope to fix within the next day or so. The problem is that the responsive design code was written independent of the right rail, and so it doesn’t behave like it should.”

So we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow.


#11

…And I’ve uploaded fixes for the responsive breakage. Shift-reload to get all the updated CSS and it should be fine.

It also works in IE now. So there’s that.


#12

We need to see what it will look like during pledge drives.


#13

I realize that this is a prototype, but I’m not feelin’ it. There are various tiny bugs I found (mostly related to how the infoboxes are laid out), but I assume most of those will be fixed. The big thing is that I feel like the whole design aesthetic is going in the wrong direction.

The biggest problem with wikipedia’s design as it stands is that there’s too much going on on each page, and this design just makes it worse. Wikipedia should be moving the direction of cleaner pages, not more cluttered pages. There’s no reason wikipedia articles shouldn’t be gorgeously laid out clean, modern pages (since wikipedia has no ads, no promotions, or anything like that).

The sidebar is a good example: except for the links to other languages (and maybe “Permanent link”), the left sidebar is totally and utterly useless for 99.9% of users. Who the hell clicks “What links here” or “Recent changes”, except for hard-core wikipedians (which I used to be, a few years back, almost became an admin back in the day)? Why would an ordinary user who comes to wikipedia from Google ever need to see the “Special pages” link (that one is particularly egregious, because it’s confusing: “Special pages” to a normal user doesn’t mean computer-generated pages, it means very good pages). One common theme with almost all of the unsolicited designs is that they get rid of the sidebar, because it’s basically useless. Every link there should be either moved to a burger-bar style thing, or only show up if you’re logged in (or has changed some setting stored in a cookie). That left bar should either be totally removed and replaced with a margin or just contain the logo (though that doesn’t seem optimal either). Or at the very least figure out some better use for it.

The links at the top in Wikipedia’s current design are better though, because they don’t take up vertical real estate, and they’re subtle. Your eye goes to the headline first, and then proceeds down, so most people probably don’t even see them. In addition to that, they’re relevant, because they signal that wikipedia pages are evolving and can be edited by anyone (so even if no one but hard-core users every click “Edit” or “View history”, it’s a good signal to have them there). This redesign moves them below the headline, so every user will be almost guaranteed to see them every time they look up something on wikipedia. Totally unnecessary and it clutters up the interface. Wikipedia should become cleaner, not more cluttered. Move them above the headline, at least.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of burger bars, I see that the new design has one. But it contains links to the Edit, History and Discussion pages. Why would you put links to those things on the page if they’re in that menu? Or conversely: why put them in the menu if the links are right there on the page?

I like the idea of the right column containing infoboxes and other languages (presumably that thing would collapse into the main column in a proper reactive design?), but what the hell is up with the other languages box? What the hell does “Acèh Адыгэбзэ Afrikaans Akan Alemannisch” mean? Not only is it confusing, it’s ugly too. Just name it “Read this article in other languages” or something. I get what you’re trying to do, you figure that if someone arrives on wikipedia and doesn’t speak English, they should be able to find a link in their language. But since you only show the first five languages, that’s unlikely to happen with this design as well. Also, since you only show the first five languages alphabetically, you’re guaranteeing that on most English wikipedia pages, one of the most prominent links will read “Afrikaans”. That doesn’t seem like a good design choice.

Anyway my two cents. I get the whole “nobody likes redesigns” thing and that I’m the most stereotypical internet user ever, but I really do feel like Wikipedia could use a major design overhaul, and that this isn’t it. I get the sense that when I was an active wikipedian, I would have really loved this design, because it shows many of the things I need very clearly, but now that I’m just a reader, it’s way to cluttered with shit I don’t need.

I suppose you wouldn’t have shown it too us if you didn’t want comments, so those are mine.


#14


#15

I agree with most all of this. As for the language thing, why not just a dropdown that defaults to the flag + name of the current language? Everyone can recognize a flag, and it’s synonymous with changing language on the web.


#16

No - simply have the language written in English, in Bold, and underlined. Everyone understands English when it’s more loudly presented. Everyone.


#17

Not that simple. Which country’s flag would for example represent English? UK, US, Canada, etc? Whichever one is chosen would annoy a significant number of users. And some of those countries have populations that prefer to use other languages - Welsh and French spring immediately to mind.


#18

Really? I’m from Australia, and I’ve seen English represented by a US flag and haven’t been offended, I’m not even offended that you omitted my country from your list. But the British flag would seem appropriate, since, you know, English, or the US/British (flags halved and joined by a slash) flag icon that I’ve seen used in some places to avoid this silliness.

The flag is meant to represent the country of origin or the predominantly associated country for a language, but I understand that this is concept is apparently somewhat contentious.

As for users that wish to select a language other than the primary language spoken in their country, do you believe they’re likely to be confused by a flag (Wales has a flag BTW)? Surely someone from, say, Canada who wants to read in French won’t be confused to apoplexy by the French flag next to Français, and sit there wondering how they can choose both the Canadian flag, and Français?? Additionally, you don’t even necessarily have to display flags on the list items, since the user’s language will be listed in their native tongue and character set. But a flag for the current language provides an obvious control for users to interact with.

The problem for users of alternative character sets is that unless you can list all available languages, or at least a significant subset of them so that most character sets are covered, it’s impossible for users to find the control that allows language selection without some sort of visual cue. Unfortunately, there’s not a widely recognized symbol for ‘select a language’.

The only other way that I can see of handling it that might make any sense would be to have all the languages in the footer. With long articles this sucks, but if a single visible flag is so abhorrent, it’s the only way to do it that doesn’t consume an inordinate slab of prime screen real-estate, and remains vaguely useable.


#19

That is much improved, thanks!


#20

I’ve read enough online discussions to know that yes there will be people who are offended by what they perceive to be the wrong flag and sometimes the arguments are quite political. The English example is a minor one, but which flag would you pick for Korean?


#21

The one where they can access the Internet? Okay, that’s insensitive. But if that idea is to be shot down, there has to be an alternative proposition.