Multimedia:UX study, June 2010/CfP

From Wikimedia Usability Initiative

The call for proposals is now closed. Thank you for your interest.

The Wikimedia Multimedia Usability Project is a special project of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that supports Wikipedia. It is realized thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation and aims to improve the interfaces and workflows for multimedia uploading on Wikimedia websites.


Over the years, uploading a file to Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons has grown increasingly difficult. Users are now presented with a ridiculously verbose and complicated upload form, as a consequence of both implementation-driven design and limited capabilities of the software.

The Wikimedia Foundation recently obtained a grant from the Ford Foundation to specifically address this issue. The subsequent 1-year Multimedia usability project funded by this grant aims to improve the usability of the upload process, in order to make it much easier for anyone to share their media files under a free license on Wikimedia Commons.

User research plan

Based on a preliminary assessment, we chose a 3-step research plan:

  1. A preliminary user research phase in the very early stages of the project (October - December 2009). It consisted of ethnographic interviews of users, discussions with stakeholders and subject matter experts, online survey and free forum open to users. The main goals were to observe and understand why and how users use the product, as well as identify or confirm critical issues that users encounter during its use.
  2. A first formal usability/UX study six months later (early March 2010). Participants will be confronted with two interfaces: the initial interface as it was before any improvement, and a prototype interface developed in the meantime, based on the preliminary research. The goals of this (both formative and summative) study are: formally recording the issues identified by the preliminary study as a reference for progress and checking that the preliminary changes are a step in the right direction.
  3. A last formal usability/UX study at the end of the project (October / November 2010), possibly with a reduced number of participants. This study will be mostly summative and will aim to measure progress and improvements using the first study as reference. It will also be used to identify remaining issues.

The preliminary user research phase is now over. We are currently working on the second step: the first formal usability / user experience study. We will consider proposals that bundle the two formal studies, as well as individual proposals for the first formal study.


One of the major changes we are going to introduce is a complete redesign of the upload interface to make it simpler and more straightforward. Instead of presenting the user with a complicated set of paths and dozen fields to fill in before actually uploading, we want to provide a simpler, context-aware interface consistent with the user's mental model.

The goal of the UX study is twofold:

  • Record the current user experience, as it is without any change, in order to:
    • have a reference to compare to at the end of the project
    • formally confirm the main issues identified by the preliminary user research
    • discover previously uncovered issues
  • Record the user experience with the new interface to check we're going in the right direction, and identify possible new interaction issues.

For that purpose, we want to test both the current and the prototype interface.


Basically, we will record the experience of users who want to upload a picture to Wikimedia Commons. The picture might be their own work, but we would also like to study cases that are less clear-cut, in order to avoid research bias. We will favor proposals that offer creative ways to test various cases, based on the design of our proposed new workflow.


We are looking for UX and Usability firms, researchers, and enthusiasts to help us to evaluate the changes we have made to the existing software and identify issues that have remained hidden. Generally we are looking to:

  • recruit appropriate users
  • have about 10 participants. We will consider in-person and remote interviews. Given the multilingual nature of Wikimedia Commons, we will also consider interviews of users who don't speak English.
  • conduct interviews of tasks and open ended questions with video and audio of the participant, moderator, and computer screen.
  • analyze and synthesize all of the information from the interviews
  • share video highlights and the full interview audio + video with our community online, under a free license.

A lot of additional documentation about our research & work is available from our hub for multimedia usability.


If you or your company is available to help, please e-mail gpaumierreplace Let us know how you can help or with a proposal and we will get back to you. Thanks!

DEADLINE: February 10th, 2009