Reading/Web/Accessibility for reading

< Reading‎ | Web

The interface of Wikimedia projects must be accessible and readable, regardless of language or script. This includes both the majority as well as individuals with specific needs. The current typography on desktop and mobile makes readability difficult, though. Also, night mode can be helpful in low-light settings and for users who prefer low-contrast reading environments. Our interfaces do not provide this functionality now.

We would like to change the default typography. We will also build additional settings for typography and night mode as preferences. These changes will be available for both logged-in and logged-out users.

Updates edit

December 2023: A new beta feature: Accessibility for Reading (Vector 2022) edit

The new menu in the un-pinned version, next to the user name

The Web team from the Wikimedia Foundation launched a new beta feature. The goal is to make reading on desktop more comfortable. The feature is only available to logged-in editors using the Vector 2022 skin. To try it out, go to the "beta" option in the user menu and select "Accessibility for Reading (Vector 2022)". You may also enable it on all wikis using the global preferences.

In the new menu, there are three text settings – small, standard, and large. Small is the current default. Large is for users who need additional increase in size. The standard setting may later become the new default. This was recommended by both the literature research and prototype testing. To this menu, we have also added the page width setting. Before, it was available in the bottom corner of the screen. Now, it's easier to find. The menu is pin-able in a similar way to the Tools and Main menus, both placed in the side columns of the desktop interface. When it's not pinned, it's displayed next to the user name.

About the above mentioned prototype testing: in October and November, we shared a prototype with 13 Wikipedia language communities. It allowed editors to experiment with different text settings, and report which configuration was most comfortable for them. We received feedback from 632 users. They were interested in changes and preferred options that fit within three size categories – small, medium, and large. You may learn more about the testing here.

We welcome you all to try the new menu. We will collect your ideas and comments to make this feature better. Please, if you have the time, check it out and give us your thoughts!

Background edit

Over the past few years, we have introduced the Vector 2022 skin across many wikis. We have designed it to improve the reading experience. Another goal was to provide an experience that is comfortable for existing users and more welcoming to new users. However, there are still issues with readability we have yet to address. During the research for that project, one of the issues we recognized was the size of the text itself.

Compared to the more accessible digital text, it takes longer to read our content on desktop and mobile. The ability to remember text that was read is also affected. An important factor to keep in mind is that people engage both in in-depth reading and skimming of text.[1] We would like to improve our typography for both of these ways of using the projects.

Also, our desktop site does not allow to set a font size that is comfortable for the user. Instead, readers with specific needs and likings depend on browser functionality to alter the font size. These capabilities vary by browser and are not always supported by the rest of our user interface. This causes issues with tools or navigation.

Quotation from the Foundation's 2023/2024 annual plan 

Ensure a quality reading experience for all users by adapting the default experience for 15% of page views, based on the individual needs and constraints of the user.

This key result is focused on allowing the opportunity for our interface to adapt to individual needs when necessary. The theory here is that people will feel more engaged with a website and interface that can adapt based on their needs. This can include work such as dark mode, text and page density, and font size customizations. Some of this adaptation can be done automatically by the interface – for example, creating responsive versions of a feature or tool, or ensuring that dark mode turns on based on the browser or device settings of the user. In other cases, this adaptation can be done through intentional customization – allowing users to select non-default states in specific (but limited) cases. From an accessibility perspective, it will focus on the features that need to be built as standalone to allow for more accessibility, or to allow for setting defaults that are more accessibility friendly, while leaving the opportunity for customization to users who have different preferences. To set the specific number "15%", we looked at how users adapt the default experience in the Wikipedia iOS app. 59% of users of the app are using a non-default theme (dark, black, or sepia). We used this number as a baseline, but factored in our assumption that it is more likely that habitual users of Wikipedia on the web take the time to adapt their reading experience, as opposed to sporadic users.

Project overview edit

As part of the Accessibility for reading project, we will focus on two main initiatives:

  1. Improving the typography of the site and allowing users to choose their settings
  2. Introducing night mode that users can opt-in to.

Goals edit

Typography improvements edit

The goals of this project are:

  1. To identify and better understand problems. Review and classify issues with the current typography on wikis
  2. To make the site easier to read. Improve readability on mobile and desktop sites
  3. To provide typography that better suits different languages and scripts. Optimize readability with the support and expertise of the different communities
  4. To allow readers to customize typography. Introducing typographical preferences, useful mostly for people with distinct needs and likings

Night mode edit

  1. Improving the readability of articles in low-light settings
  2. Making night mode options and settings easily discoverable and usable

Timeline and phases edit

Typography improvements edit

Phase Timeframe Description
1a Research and literature review July– We learn what researchers say about typography for desktop and mobile
1b Prototype testing + discussing with communities October– Most editors taking part in the previous testing were open to a font size increase. They came from different communities. We will talk with communities to determine whether and how defaults should change. Various languages and scripts may have different settings.
1c Beta feature deployment December 2023 We release the typography improvements as a beta feature to all wikis and encourage communities to try it out and give us their feedback
2 Release to pilot wikis Iteration based on testing results in collaboration with testing communities
3 Release to all wikis Not defined

Night mode edit

Phase Timeframe Description
1a Technical review September– We will review ideas for implementation of night mode and decide what implementation we want to use. We will review the dark mode gadget, night mode on the apps, etc.
1b Discussing with communities November/ We will work with editors to adjust the community-controlled code (like templates) so that night mode works well. We will brainstorm ideas on making the necessary changes to the community-controlled code
2 Development and prototype testing Not defined We will test prototypes and iterate on them
3 Pilot release Not defined Based on testing results, we will release the beta version for testing communities. The first version may be a "beta feature", only available for logged-in users.
4 Release for all users Not defined When community-controlled code is adjusted, night mode will be available for logged-out users.

Get involved and Contact edit

Earlier research and explorations edit

Project evaluation edit

We will measure the success of this project with qualitative and quantitative methods. In particular, we will be looking at:

  • Research-supported decisions in prototype creation and development
  • Qualitative improvements in readability based on user testing and community conversations
  • At least X% of all sessions longer than Ys who customize typography
    • Note: exact variables TBD
  • At least X% of all sessions use night mode
  • No significant change in reading depth

References edit