As many of you already know, the Wikimedia Foundation's User Experience team has been running a beta program focused on improving the user interface for over six months now. More details may be found here [a], but our main goal has been to reduce the barriers to participation in Wikipedia by making it easier for new contributors to edit.

Since the start of the program, over 635,000 users across all Wikimedia projects have participated in this beta program - testing and providing feedback on the new interface. Roughly 80% of the test users who tried the beta are still using it (view details [b]). On the English Wikipedia, almost 270,000 users have tried the test interface and about 84% of those users continue to use it. On April 5, the beta features became the default experience for users of Wikimedia Commons, a wiki similar to Wikipedia that hosts the millions of free image and media files within our projects. The summary of feedback from Commons users may be found here [c]. The WMF blog [d] and the tech blog [e] also provide more information on this project.

This new user interface will become the default for users of the English Wikipedia during the second week of May. We are currently scheduled to make the switch at 5:00am UTC on May 13. Once we make the switch, all users will begin to see the new features [1]. These features include an enhanced toolbar, a new skin (which we named 'Vector'), and a number of other features we're very excited about (FAQs may be found here [f]). If you prefer not to make the change, there will be 'Take me back' link to restore the original features. Those who would like to experience the new interface sooner may do so via the 'Try Beta' link at the top of the page.

We understand that the English Wikipedia relies heavily on custom user scripts and site-specific JavaScript. Information on how to test gadgets is included in the FAQs page. If you encounter issues using the new skin, please share your feedback [g].

We're looking forward to rolling out the new features next week. In the meantime, if you have any questions/comments, please share them here [h] -- we're trying to consolidate feedback as much as we can.


Wikimedia Usability Experience Team

[1] Users that have opted out of the beta will still get the new features.  We apologize in advance for this inconvenience, but these users may restore their features via the "Take Me Back" link.
[a] http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Usability_Initiative
[b] http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Beta_Feedback_Survey
[c] http://blog.wikimedia.org/2010/04/16/a-quick-update-on-vector-acceptance-by-commons-users/
[d] http://blog.wikimedia.org/2010/03/25/wikimedia-gets-ready-for-some-big-changes/
[e] http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2010/03/the-change-in-interface-is-coming/
[f] http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/What%27s_new,_questions_and_answers
[g] [http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:What%27s_new,_questions_and_answers
[h] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:User_experience_feedback