Wikipedia: it’s the new standard for what an encyclopedia should be: constantly evolving and up to date, editable by the people who often know best (us), available to just about everyone with a computer, and readable in just about every language. The website has literally changed the way the world looks at reliable, open-source information. But, for all its outstanding qualities, it’s seriously lacking in one important aspect: design.
See Also Typography - Kandinsky Style
For such a highly useful and world changing site, you could easily imagine its current design glowing dimly from the dusty monitors of 1997’s Internet. Not only is the site distinctly antiquated in its looks, in many ways it’s also lacking in ease of use. That’s where New!, a Lithuanian design firm, has stepped in with Wikipedia Redefined, an exciting design experiment which looks at a more stylish and functional redesign for Wikipedia. Could this be the future? (continued below)
Above: The New! proposal for a “redefined” Wikipedia
Below: Wikipedia’s current design
The front page of Wikipedia is a good example of the thinking behind New!’s slick and thorough redesign: make it attractive and make it functional. Wikipedia Redefined is a vertical scrolling site that begins by breaking down the distinctive, if questionably attractive brand of Wikipedia. In the place of the puzzle piece globe, they leave just the iconic W prominently displayed in the center. They further refine the brand by creating sub-brands that lead to the many other functions the site serves; from wikiQuotes (wQ) to wikiBooks (wB), an attractive two-letter icon at the bottom of the non-scrolling page represents each. They then take the front page, which has historically been cluttered by the plethora of available languages, and simplify it while making it more functional. Gone are the lists of languages and instead we have what most people care about: a bold and functional search bar, combined with an easy to use drop-down menu of available languages. If you’re wondering what that top rainbow colored bar means, it represents – in real time – the number of articles available in each of the most popular languages.
Like metallurgists further and further refining gold to its purest form, the creative people at New! have reworked nearly every aspect of the site – from researching, to editing and sharing – to make it both more attractive and more functional to the many people who frequent it. Their two month long exploration into what can be done to improve an already popular site has resulted in something which makes you truly admire the benefits of good, clean design. The only unsolved question they seem to have left us with is this: how can we get Wikipedia to actually implement these brilliant ideas?
Head to Wikipedia Redefined for an in depth look at the redesign and the philosophy behind it.