Quick Thoughts On The Beta Of Wikipedias New Design

Wikipedia, the best thing to happen to the web since Al Gore, is redesigning. Not radically, just a little itsy bit. You can log in and click “Try Beta”, or view a screenshot here below:

Wikipedia_beta

The design is quite like the old one, but with a few changes:

  • The twirlie background (it’s actually a picture of pages in a book, did you know?) has been replaced with a gradient.
  • The tabs on the top of each article (Page, Discussion, History and so on) are now larger and the design fades out on top.
  • The search bar has been moved from the left sidebar to the top right corner, and “Go” is no longer bold.
  • “Watch page” has been relegated to a dropdown menu. I assume a plethora of other admin-only tabs have been moved here, as well.
  • The left menu is now in a larger font, with underlined links and no bullets nor is it in a white box.

Overall, I think it’s a lovely design, far better than the one layout used on Wikia wikis such as Wookieepedia. Furthermore, it refreshes, improves and simplifies the look of the entire website, without breaking the design that has crept into portals and pages across the millions of articles. It’s a daunting task, to say the least, but it is a definite improvement which people will come to appreciate in the long term.

Specifically, I like that things have been simplified. The same font size is now used for both the navigation, tabs and login area. Less use of bulletted lists and bold fonts also simplifies the look. As a result, the addition of underlines to the left hand menu doesn’t make it as clumsy looking as it could’ve been.

The search box has been moved from the left side, an odd placement since the canonic placement has come to be the top right corner. If only it was a bit bigger, had a bit of whitespace around it, and was generally longer, encouraging people to search using more keywords (think Google). Then again, search has always been Wikipedias weakest side.

The footer has also been simplified. One color, one font, one size and no background. Was that so hard?

So, it’s the same general layout. It’s “backwards compatible”. It has larger buttons, larger tabs, larger fonts, and underlines, all the while looking lighter and simpler. Well done!