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Wikipedia Usability Presentation Outline

About the usability project


The goal of this initiative is to measurably increase the usability of Wikipedia for new contributors by improving MediaWiki, on the basis of user behavioral studies, thereby reducing barriers to public participation.

Project Scope

Phase 0: Form a project team, conduct usability study, and research existing solution.

Phase 1: Simple changes to the user interface that help authors perform basic editing tasks. This may include changes such as visibility of the edit button, access to the help pages and basic instructions, removal of “instruction overload”, etc.

Phase 2: A first attempt at the redesign of the core component of the editing process - the article editor. This will focus on hiding complex formatting language in the standard editing interface and making those features accessible in a separate, more advanced, editing interface.

The team

The core team

Naoko Komura, Program Manager
Parul Vora, Interaction Designer
Trevor Parscal, Software Developer
Nimish Gautam, Software Developer

Extended Team

Roan Kattouw, SW Development Consultant
Hannes Tank, Design Intern
Aaron Wright, Volunteer


Erik Moeller, Deputy Director
Brion Vibber, CTO
Frank Schulenburg, Head of Public Outreach

Usability Study


  • Recruiting
  • Lab and Remote
  • Profiles


  • Navigate
  • Edit (formatting, references, templates)
  • Create a page


  • People love Wikipedia

(insert quotes from the study participants here.)

  • Confused, lost and overwhelmed

(insert quotes from the study participants here.)

  • Learning by example

(insert quotes from the study participants here.)

Design + Develop + Deploy


  • Brainstorm
  • Prioritize
  • Mock-ups <-> Feedback


  • Prototyping <-> Feedback
  • QA
  • Changes


  • Staged release
  • Stealth mode
  • Open invitation

Proposed improvements

Acai release (July 2009)

  • Streamlined navigation (screenshots)
  • Minimalist but versatile approach to the toolbar (screenshot)
  • Simplified search result page (screenshot)

Babaco release (September 2009)

  • Visual navigation - color enhancements
  • Navigable table of contents in edit page - color enhancements
  • Wizard for links, images, and tables

Citron release (January 2010)

  • Content folding
  • Side-by-side preview
  • Syntax highlighting