The current default skin is 12 years old. Let's refresh it!
There have been many changes to the interface. Most of these were not coordinated. We are making the interface coherent.
The communities have built modifications. We make the best of these part of our interface.
We are making Wikimedia wikis more welcoming and easier for readers. We are maintaining the utility for editors.
We would like to see our improvements the default on all wikis in 2022.
We collaborate with communities.
November 2023: Visual changes, more deployments, and shifting focus
New styling inspired by Zebra prototype
As part of Zebra #9 prototype, which we wrote about in the last two updates, we introduced two kinds of visual changes: color-based area separation, and other CSS modifications. As we reported previously, the A/B test didn't prove that the color-based separation was an improvement. We focused on the other CSS modifications instead, and we're implementing these changes now. To preview the difference, you may use URL parameters:
?vectorzebradesign=0 (without the changes) and
?vectorzebradesign=1 (with the changes). The changes are:
- Dropdown menus (the sidebar, table of contents, user menu, and tools menu when not pinned) have a lighter outline and drop-shadow.
- The "move to sidebar"/ "hide" buttons in the dropdown menus have a gray background instead of the square brackets.
- The main menu no longer has a gray background when it is placed in the side column (when it's pinned). Instead, all menus have the same appearance when placed in the side columns.
- The left and right columns have equal width.
- Due to the change above, the content width gets slightly narrower when menus are pinned in both columns.
- The gap between the table of contents and content area is smaller.
In mid-November, we shipped these changes to the following Wikipedias: French, Catalan, Hebrew, Polish. We are planning on introducing these changes across all the wikis within 2-3 weeks. These will enable future modifications, like the Accessibility for reading menu.
Continuing deployments of the Vector 2022 skin
Since our last update, we have changed the default skin on a few Wikipedias: Dutch, Hindi, Hungarian, Norwegian (bokmål), and Swedish. We have also released a short video about the skin. In addition, after receiving all logos from our Design team, we were also ready to continue the wide-scale deployments on sister projects.
- The Vector 2022 skin is now the default on all non-English Wikibooks, Wikinews, Wikiquotes, Wikiversity, as well as on Meta-Wiki.
- We are continuing conversations and scheduling deployments to the remainder of sister projects, beginning with non-English Wikisource, Wiktionary, and Wikivoyage.
Some of these projects may need adjustments, like default settings for limited/full-width at namespaces unique to Wikisource. Gadgets or user scripts may need to be updated, too. We gladly make fixes or assist in making them, depending on whether changes need to be made in the skin itself or a community-controlled code. Reach out to us on the Desktop Improvements talk page or write directly to SGrabarczuk (WMF) if you have any questions or requests for further changes.
Focusing on further desktop and mobile readability improvements
The team has shifted focus onto the Accessibility for reading project. We will work on improvements in typography and introduce dark mode to the Vector 2022 and Minerva skins. Please visit the project page for more details and information on how to get involved.
September 2023: Results from the Content separation (Zebra #9) A/B test edit
In June 2023, we ran an experiment which compared different content separation layouts of the interface. This prototype shows the tested design; we're calling it "Zebra". The goal was to improve readability and focus on the content of the page. The experiment tested the prototype design and compared it to the current all-white Vector 2022 design. The results of the experiment showed:
- A 3% increase in pageviews per session in the treatment group attributed to Zebra
- A 3.4% decrease in edits per session in the treatment group attributed to Zebra
- A 17% decrease in the click rate of the table of contents
- An 87% increase in the page tool pins per session
After reviewing the settings of our test, we did not find any issues that would result in data inconsistencies. Next, we studied other factors which might affect the results of the test. We noticed that a significant amount of the decrease in edits and pageviews came from screen sizes narrower than 1200 px. We combined these results with the results of our user tests. These did not indicate significant differences in readability between the test and control designs.
Our conclusion was that the prototype did not, in its tested form, improve readability and could negatively affect edits. We decided not to proceed with the deployment of this prototype in its tested form. Instead, we plan to improve readability and focus on the content through the following:
- Introducing changes to the typography, focused on improving readability and content comprehension. This is the goal of the new project, Accessibility for reading
- Introducing improvements to Zebra, optimizing for narrower screens, and repeating the tests.
Imagine a wardrobe edit
Currently, the interface… edit
- 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 edit
- 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.
- Elements of the interface might move around, but all navigational items and other functionality currently available by default will remain.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Deployment plan and timeline edit
- Each feature is built and implemented separately. Features which have been created are still being adjusted and improved.
- Our decisions are based on community feedback, prototype feedback rounds, user testing, and extracted API data (via A/B testing and before & after).
- To report a bug, create a task in Phabricator and add project.
- In the case of significantly negative results, we will roll back our changes.
- We test our improvements in collaboration with early adopter wikis. We increase the set of early adopter wikis gradually.
|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 unchecking Use Legacy Vector in the Appearance tab)
|only editors can opt-out
(using Switch to old look in the sidebar, or directly from their users preferences)
|Month and week
|Discussions with the English Wikipedia community
|Meetings with communities
|Meetings with communities
|Deployment on the smallest Wikipedias
|Discussions with the Arabic, Greek, Hindi, Norwegian, and Swedish Wikipedia communities
|No technical changes; meeting with the Spanish-language communities
|Meeting with the Polish Wikipedia community
|Deployments on some/all of the above Wikipedias
|No technical changes
|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):
Get involved & Contact edit
- Inform your community. Share our updates and blog posts.
- Do you think your community might be interested in having our interface as default? Please contact us!
Community Relations Specialist