Wikipedia Refreshed with Better Navigation, Search, Editing

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-13

Wikipedia launched a major redesign May 13, adding easier navigation, better search and improved editing features after hard-core testing by a beta group of 635,000 people.

Working under the theme "Vector," the Wikimedia Foundation User Experience team improved navigation for reading and editing pages. Tabs at the top of each page more clearly define whether users are reading or editing a page. Collapsible navigation in the left sidebar hides items.

The search bar has been moved over to the top-right corner of the page. Taking a cue from the successes of major search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing, Wikipedia has spruced up its search suggestions.

Editing the articles in Wikipedia is an important chore and Wikipedia has attempted to make the editing tool bar easier to use. Also, a table wizard has been added to make creating tables easier. Another new feature, a link wizard, lets users add links to other pages on Wikipedia or to pages on external sites.

There are some nifty cosmetic changes as well. The familiar Wikipedia globe logo has been redesigned in three dimensions and with letters representing more than 250 languages from all over the world. Wikipedia also now uses the open-source typeface Linux Libertine for the new Wikipedia logo.

The new PediaPress book creator lets those researching material assemble any of the 3.3 million English Wikipedia articles into a printed book, PDF file or Open Document word processing file.

See screenshots and details of the changes here.

Naoko Komura, a member of the Wikimedia Foundation User Experience team, said the completed work means "hundreds of millions of people around the world will now experience an easier-to-use, and, more importantly, easier-to-edit Wikipedia." The new interface will roll out to Wikipedia in all its languages over time.

The new Wikipedia graduated from beta status one week after Google unveiled its new search interface, which sparked protests from some users comfortable with the classic Google look.

User opinions on the new Wikipedia were mixed, according to comments on Komura's blog post. Some hate that the search box was moved over to the top right. Others find the new look refreshing.  

Unlike Google's take-it-or-leave-it position with its new user interface, Wikipedia is letting users who prefer the classic MonoBook interface "click on the 'Take me back' link at the top of the page to go back to the previous interface," Komura said.

Read more about the changes on Techmeme here.

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