[Foundation-l] Along with Vector, a new look for changes to the Wikipedia identity

Jay Walsh jwalsh at wikimedia.org
Thu May 13 02:50:19 UTC 2010

Hi folks,

Over the next day or so you'll be seeing some exciting changes to the Wikipedia user interface as Vector rolls out across English Wikipedia.

In an earlier note on that topic, User Experience team project manager Naoko Komura mentioned another change - one that will bring some small improvements to the Wikipedia identity, namely the Wikipedia puzzle globe and the construction of the Wikipedia wordmark - the word and sentence underneath the puzzle globe.

The first major change you'll see is a slightly different looking Wikipedia puzzle globe. Over a year ago the Foundation began to recognize the need to have the puzzle globe logo improved slightly - mostly because we had some errors in the type characters featured in the puzzle globe, and also because we needed a better quality version that could print better and at a larger scale.  We also needed to do that without dramatically changing one of the most recognized and beloved logos on the internet.

It seemed like an opportune moment to take our 2D globe, lovingly created by WP user:Nohat and improved/modified a cast of many other volunteers back in 2003, and take it to a truly 3D object.  If we were going to undertake this process, we knew we would first need to populate the 'dark side of the puzzle globe' - and of course we turned to our volunteers to do just that.

Cary Bass worked with a team of volunteers to begin that process, and to revisit the many suggested and improvised fixes to the globe that have taken place over the years.  Most of that discussion played out on a meta page here:

The results are fantastic, and now you can see many new languages and scripts represented.  The final state for our puzzle globe is quite similar to the original, fixes some errors, and has replaced the Klingon logo with an Amharic character.

The actual 3D construction of the new mark was carried out by a professional 3D animator, art director, and graphic designer, Philip Metschan, who is based in the SF Bay Area.  Through his career Philip has worked for Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar, and currently he's also a visualization and concept artist for the DIRECT program (not surprisingly, it can be learned about on Wikipedia... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT).

We've created a new page on the Foundation wiki that talks about the revised 3D globe as well as the other improvements underway to the wordmark:

You'll notice that the new variation of the typeface uses Linux Libertine as an alternative to Hoeffler, the original typeface used to create the wordmark.  In order to facilitate the creation of so many new variations of the Wikipedia identity it was important to find a viable alternative - Hoeffler is a commercial typeface that not every project would have access to, nor own.  Linux Libertine is very close to Hoeffler in its shape and style, and for on-screen viewing is almost identical to Hoeffler. 

The User Experience team also investigated another minor improvement: replacing the italicized "The Free Encyclopedia" with regular typeface.  This ultimately resulted in improved on-screen readability, particularly in non-roman character sets.

Right now volunteers are working with the new localization guide to create the hundreds of new identities needed for each language variation of Wikipedia. You can see the Commons gallery filling up here:

If you're interested in supporting this effort you can simply follow the guide referenced on the page, or reach out to the Foundation's volunteer coordinator, Cary Bass, directly, cary at wikimedia.org.

It will take some time to create all of the marks, and initially the ops and User Experience team are rolling out the new identity on English Wikipedia and then focussing on other languages as soon as possible. 

Hopefully the millions of dedicated users of Wikipedia will appreciate this minor improvement to the Wikipedia identity across all of the project languages.  This is also a great new tool for chapter and volunteer representatives around the world - this scalable, crisper version of the new puzzle globe is easier to work with in a variety of situations, but retains the character and look of its predecessor. As with any important identity, I'm certain it will see further evolutions and improvements.  We're open to hearing your thoughts and views for the next iteration.

Later today we'll also be posting this news to the Wikimedia blog, alongside updated news about the Vector roll-out, scheduled to unfold over the next 12 hours.

I'd like to thank again the dozens of volunteers who have worked over the last year+ to navigate the challenge of filling up this now 3D globe with new symbols and marks, and the countless others who have scrutinized the first drafts of the logo to suggest improvements (like proper orientation for characters).  Cary Bass has been instrumental in mapping out all of these minor and major changes along with the volunteers, and the user experience team - particularly Parul, Naoko, Trevor, and Nimish, along with Hannes, should also be recognized for putting so much patience and dedication into this effort.  Thanks as well to Philip Metschan for spending so much time and investing so much effort and detail into the design. 

We also have to recognize the dozens of (and next dozen of) volunteers who will continue to localize the new identity in different languages, as well as the original efforts of user:nohat and those early pioneers who brought this identity to life in 2003.  This enormous and truly unique design effort astounds me, and it's one of the most impressive examples of our collaborative capacity outside of the work of Wikipedia itself. 


Jay Walsh
Head of Communications
+1 (415) 839 6885 x 609, @jansonw

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