Usability group


This page is devoted to improving the usability of the Wikimedia projects, comparing related ideas, and testing them with software and on user groups to see how well the site measures up. Related projects: EN:WP usability and its Main page redesign project.

Subprojects : when the individual sections on interface design, accessibility, and search improvement get larger, they may warrant their own pages.

Interface designEdit

For general interface design across the Wikimedia projects.

Feature requestsEdit

Login/new account screenEdit

First thing I always do after a version upgrade is hack the login page in to something that looks like this:

It isn't pretty, but at least it is easier for new non-geek users to understand.

from Tony Wilson, on mediawiki-l, June 29

That's right. It should be split up into three different pages:
  • Special:Userlogin
  • Special:Newuser
  • Special:Forgotpassword
--zeno 23:43, 1 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This could be done with large tabs within the page itself, much like w:Wikipedia:Introduction works. +sj | Translate the Quarto |+ 23:14, 23 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mockups and proposalsEdit


General links and overview : Wikipedia accessibility <-- worth merging?

These should be regularly tested with accessibility software, and separately evaluated for usability by visitors with specific disabilities.

Feature requestsEdit

  • Make WP Bobby-compliant.
  • Make a MW plugin that reads articles to the user
  • Make a colorblind-friendly or high-contrast set of skins for various kinds of visual impairment.
  • Simplify menu items, special page names & verbs to avoid idioms & metaphors altogether to help mobile users & English as a second language users & users in projects unlike Wikipedia

Mockups and extensionsEdit

See also various Wikitech-l posts

  • WikiTalk TL 1.3.3, via bercutfinland: a freeware program for searching Wikipedia or Wikinews and speaking the result.
    Features: Talking head | Several different languages | Text to wav | Text to MP3 | Clipboard to wav | Clipboard to MP3
    Works with IE6, Netscape8 ,Mozilla 1. 7.8 and Firefox 1.5
    Designed also for people with limited sight.
    • Contact : Timo Ahokas <>

Search improvementEdit


  • Improve ease of first use
  • Increase speed of locating information.
  • Optimize search performance (fewer searches by a given user to reach a target page; make it easy to formulate inexpensive, fast searches, and harder to formulate the converse)

Feature requestsEdit

Redirects for common searchesEdit

For many subjects there is no agreed upon common name. Users will often locate their desired entry through scanning search results. The basic mediawiki search tool sometimes will not deliver what they want. I propose publishing a list of thousands of highly searched queries (we have search logs) and then organizing a project around redirecting these terms to the proper pages.

Other uses of aggregate search statisticsEdit

In addition to finding common searches without direct matches, tracking which search results users wanted for a given cluster of terms can help improve search ranking. Right now ranking is completely independent of what other users have found useful; this could be improved somewhat.

Random non-fiction linkEdit

Pleeeease can we have one of these in the left hand column on pages, as the random article link goes to fiction nearly every time, and for a lot of us that is of absolute zero interest. Currently it takes ages to get a random article thats fact based, and this is a serious usability handicap.

Set focus to the search boxEdit

The search box is the one and only text input box all around Wikipedia's Main Page. Automagically setting focus to that box may be a good idea. Then again for some reasons - I maybe just don't know at the time of writing this feature request - it could be the worst suggestion you ever got. I just can't imagine that there's no good reason for that "feature" not being present yet.

Interested membersEdit

Please add your name below if you would like to join this group

See alsoEdit