Usability, Experience, and Progress Study/CFP

From Wikimedia Usability Initiative

Hello! We are looking to conduct a Usability/User Experience Study in San Francisco, CA in late September and are looking for help!

Deadline for Submission: August 20th, 2009.

Who we are

We are the Wikipedia Usability Initiative. Our work is supported by a grant from the U.S.-based Stanton Foundation. This grant has enabled our one year pilot project to measurably increase the usability of Wikipedia for new contributors by improving the underlying software on the basis of user studies, thereby reducing barriers to public participation. We believe that by lowering the technical barriers to participation subject-matter experts are more likely to add their knowledge to new and existing articles, resulting in a higher quality encyclopedia. With an initial focus on English Wikipedia, eventually this research and development will be implemented across all languages and possibly to other WikiMedia projects.

Wikipedia, for those of you that don't know, is a web-based encyclopedia containing more than 11 million articles in 265 languages. The English language Wikipedia is the most comprehensive edition and contains more than 2.6 million articles. According to comScore, 274 million people visited Wikipedia in September 2008, making it the 4th most popular website world-wide. According to the Wikimedia Foundation's own statistics, more than 10 billion Wikipedia pages are viewed every month.

The Usability Team is a special project of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization based in San Francisco, California. It is dedicated to making free knowledge available to everyone on the planet by empowering a global network of volunteers to collaboratively develop educational resources.

Our research

As outlined in our grant proposal, our research is focused on reducing the barriers for contribution to English Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. We conducted an initial exploratory Usability Study in March, 2009 with Bolt Peters. As we are working on solving problems discovered we are looking to both validate our improvements and inform our future design and development.

In the first phase of this project encompassing two releases, we have been designing and developing changes to the user interface that help authors perform basic editing tasks including, but not limited to, a new skin, an enhanced toolbar, content wizards and dialogs, and new editing tools to help in navigating content and help materials.

In the upcoming phase of our project, we will be focusing on the core components of the editing process - particularly complex formatting in wiki syntax and the use of templates. Our goals are to both "hide" this complex formatting language to provide easier access to the article body content, and also to provide users with an editing interface to these complicated structures.

What we're looking for (or How you can help)

We are looking for UX and Usability firms, researchers, and enthusiasts to help us to evaluate the changes we have made to the existing softward and inform our future work on complex content and templates. Generally we are looking to:

  • recruit appropriate target groups that serve both of our interests
  • have 10-20 participants, at least half of which we will be able to interview in person in San Francisco, CA. the other half of which are *not* located in San Francisco - preferably globally.
  • conduct in-person and remote 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 into actionable recommendations, user profiles, age and gender trends, etc.
  • share video highlights and the full interview audio + video with our community online.

Getting in touch

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

DEADLINE: August 20th, 2009