It has been 12 years since the current default Wikimedia skin (Vector) was deployed. Over the last decade, the interface has been enriched with extensions, gadgets and user scripts. Most of these were not coordinated visually or cross-wiki. At the same time, web design, as well as the expectations of readers and editors, have evolved. We think it's time to take some of these ideas and bring them to the default experience of all users, on all wikis, in an organized, consistent way.
A series of new features and rearrangements to the Vector skin
Our goals are to make Wikimedia wikis more welcoming and to increase the utility amongst readers and maintain utility for existing editors. We measure the increase of trust and positive sentiment towards our sites, and the utility of our sites (the usage of common actions such as search and language switching).
Currently, on most wikis, only logged-in users are able to opt-in individually. On selected wikis, our changes are deployed for all by default, and logged-in users are able to opt-out. We are increasing the number of wikis where Vector 2022 is the default, until our improvements are default on all wikis.
December 2022: More deployments, full width toggle, page tools, and other updates
For the past few months, our focus has been on discussing deployments across various large wikis. This includes English Wikipedia. Its community has agreed to have Vector 2022 as the default under some conditions. We have addressed those. Currently, we are discussing next steps with the English Wikipedia community.
We have also been switching the skin on in the majority of Wikipedias. Currently, there are ~300 Wikipedias with the default of Vector 2022. Last week, the skin became the default on Arabic and Greek Wikipedias. We hope to get to all the Wikipedias by the end of February 2023.
As a result of the feedback we've received, we've made more changes to the skin itself:
- We have built a preference for logged-in users which allows for the width to be set across pageviews and wikis. The preference is available in the appearance section of the preferences page ("Enable limited width mode"). It may also be set as a global preference.
- We have built a toggle for logged-in and logged-out users. The toggle is available on every page if the monitor is 1600 pixels or wider. Selecting the toggle increases the width of the page.
- Moving the page tools to the right side of the page. This change is about grouping the page tools, and creating separation from the wiki-wide tools. This change also addresses the concern for the location of the table of contents. It makes the sidebar (left menu) shorter and thus shifts the table of contents further up in the page.
- We hope to make the updated tools menu available by the end of December, 2022. If you want to follow the development by previewing how the feature works, add
?vectorpagetools=1to the URL (if you're using Vector 2022 already) or
?useskin=vector-2022&vectorpagetools=1(if you're not using Vector 2022).
We have completed our review of the accessibility of the new skin with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). No major concerns were found. We are tracking the suggestions for further improvements. We are also addressing potential future improvements. The details are documented in T323634.
We have added an edit button to the sticky header to make access to editing the full page easier (without requiring scrolling to the top of the page). After testing across a number of wikis, we concluded the following:
- People were more likely to complete the edits they start using the sticky header in comparison to the edits initiated using other edit buttons on the page.
- The edits people started by clicking the edit button in the sticky header, and ultimately published, were reverted less often than those initiated using other edit buttons on the page.
What is our objective?
Imagine a wardrobe
We would like to gradually rearrange this…
…into this :)
Currently, the interface…
…doesn't match the expectations. …is cluttered and not intuitive. …doesn't highlight the community side. …isn't consistent with the mobile version.
- The desktop interface does not match the expectations created by the modern web platforms. It feels disorienting and disconnected. Navigation and interface links are organized haphazardly.
- There is clutter that distracts users from focusing on what they came for. It is challenging for readers to focus on the content. It is not possible for them to intuitively switch languages, search for content, or adjust reading settings. New editors are unable to use their intuition to set up their account, open the editor, or learn how to use non-article pages for moderation purposes.
- A very small percentage of readers understand how Wikimedia wikis function. Many readers are not aware that the content they are reading is written by volunteers and updated frequently, or that they can potentially contribute as well.
- The large difference in experiences among our desktop interface, apps, and the mobile web, makes it difficult for readers to connect our products. There is a lack of unity in the concept of Wikimedia sites.
How the changes are made
We do not touch the content. We do not remove any functionality. We do not change skins other than Vector. We are inspired by the existing gadgets. We do not make major changes in single steps.
- We are working on the interface only. No work will be done in terms of styling templates, the structure of page contents, map support, or cross-wiki templates.
- Though our changes are easily noticeable, we are taking an evolutionary approach and want the site to continue feeling familiar to readers and editors. Each feature is discussed, developed, and deployed separately.
- Elements of the interface might move around, but all navigational items and other functionality currently available by default will remain.
- Skins other than Vector are out of the scope of our adjustments. We have frozen Vector to Legacy Vector, and begun deploying our features as parts of the new default Vector.
- We have analysed many wikis and have noticed many useful gadgets. Some of them definitely deserve to be surfaced and be a part of default experience.
- Both prior to development and after deployment, we collect data (via A/B testing, prototype feedback rounds, etc.). In the case of significantly negative results, we will roll back our changes.
- It is our intention to test our improvements in collaboration with a diverse set of volunteering early adopter wikis, both Wikipedias and sister projects.
|the majority of wikis||early adopter wikis|
|editors or readers
don't see our changes by default
|editors and readers|
see our changes by default
|only editors can opt-in
(from user preferences, by checking Vector (2022) in the Appearance tab)
|only editors can opt-out|
(using Switch to old look in the sidebar, or directly from their users preferences)
Deployment plan and timeline
The skin is now ready to become the default on any wiki.
|Month and week||Community relations|
|Discussions with the English Wikipedia community||Meetings with communities|
|Meetings with communities|
|24||Deployment on the smallest Wikipedias|
|14||Discussions with the Arabic, Greek, Hindi, Norwegian, and Swedish Wikipedia communities||Full-width toggle|
|21||No technical changes; meeting with the Spanish-language communities|
|28||Meeting with the Polish Wikipedia community|
|5||Deployments on some/all of the above Wikipedias|
|No technical changes|
|5||Discussion with 5 other communities, most likely: Czech, Chinese, Finnish, Hungarian Wikipedia, and English Wiktionary|
List of early adopter wikis (test wikis)
First group of wikis (marked as ※ on the timeline above):
Second group of wikis (marked as † on the timeline above):
Third group of wikis (marked as ‡ on the timeline above):
Fourth group of wikis (marked as § on the timeline above):
Get involved & Contact
- Test individually: in Preferences, check the option Vector (2022). You can also enable our changes using the Global preferences.
- Join online meetings with us: we organize meetings every 2-3 weeks.
- Promote: Inform your community. Share our updates and blog posts.
- Report bugs: to report a bug, create a task in Phabricator and add project.
- Early adoption: We are hoping to increase the set of early adopter wikis gradually. Do you think your community might be interested in having our interface as default? Please contact us!
Community Relations Specialist
- Translate: help us translate related pages:
What features will be added
Each feature was built and implemented separately, over time. Our decisions are based on community feedback, user testing, and extracted API data.