The proposed logo mark…

…which serves as a branding device to unify the various channels.

The network of channels…

…then becomes the basis for a new logo for Wikimedia.

The search page is radically simplified. And above, there are tabs that allow you to easily change the language.

Each channel gets its own search portal.

The page itself has clearer navigation on the left, and improved sharing and meta-data on top.

The page itself has clearer navigation on the left, and improved sharing and meta-data on top.

A far clearer system for seeing the history of revisions that haven’t been reviewed yet.

A mapping graphic that shows related subjects to an article.

A mapping graphic that shows related subjects to an article.

A map that allows you to read geographic Wikipedia entries.

A Promising Wikipedia Overhaul, Designed To Squash Info Overload

New, a creative agency in Lithuania, gives the site an unsolicited, but much-needed, makeover.

Knowledge is power and, of course, with great power comes great responsibility. As the quick and easy information go-to for Internet denizens worldwide, Wikipedia--with its sprawling stores of community-created content--is on the line for a lot, but its excess of data suffers from a dearth of design. New, a creative agency based in Lithuania, took on the task of re-imagining its identity with Wikipedia Redefined, giving the outdated brand a much-needed makeover.

Almost a third of New’s work is non-profit, pro-bono, just plain fun, or, in the case of Wikipedia Redefined, a total passion project. “We never sacrifice anything for profit; that gives tremendous energy to the team and lets us feel a bit relaxed,” member Andrius Kazlauskas tells Co.Design. As a result, the 22-person studio is “like family.” Buoyed by the freedoms afforded by self-direction, they set about examining every element of the site, starting with the iconic puzzle mark. “For us, Wikipedia is about simplicity, but the logo shows the complexity of it all. Plus, it’s a bit dated graphically.” Ultimately, that entire motif was ditched for a single W that appears throughout, a "prefix for other sub-brands" like wikiSource, wikiQuote, and wikiBooks which make up wikiMedia. The homepage, currently cluttered with myriad languages, is given a color-coding system and straightforward search function, and the option to edit articles is also made more accessible (check out Wikipedia Redefined's epic scroll for a step-by-step explanation of their approach).

One of the bolder ideas: a crowdsourced news-aggregation page, with a condensed layout akin to a newspaper homepage.

So, will we all be able to enjoy this clear and concise online experience anytime soon? Kazlauskas put the odds at a discouraging, and definitive, “zero chance,” even though the response has been positive. “So far the reaction of people at Wikipedia--creators, not users, mind you--is they are not ready for anything radical,” he says (and the whole endeavor reminds me a bit of Wired’s similar attempt to updating Craigslist for a feature package a few years ago).

Despite the unlikelihood of implementation, the team still sees an opportunity to leverage what they’ve done for an audience who would no doubt welcome the opportunity to tool around with the slick style. “We are already working on app which will use new interface to read Wikipedia,” Kazlauskas explains. “We’ll see how that goes and if anyone’s interested.” What say you, knowledge-seekers?

[Image by Krasivo/Shutter Stock]

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30 Comments

  • Zaptodus

    Instead of an 'app' or saying 'zero chance' why not just release it as a userstyle? There are already quite a few redesigns on userstyles.org and a few of them are just as ambitious.

  • Prokofy

    This is great, but only a superficial face-lift in the end. Wikipedia needs to be fundamentally overhauled politically and socially.

    It has not joined the social media age, as odd as that may sound. There is no "like" button or share functions; no way to vote and see results of votes *on every entry*, only some -- no comments section where readers can simply and easily leave comments.

    The arcane editing system in fact drives away public contributions and leaves Wikipedia the domain of clutchy sectarian geeks. Only a handful of people are allowed to resolve the controversial pages, which is what matters. Vandalism abounds with no recourse.

    The first thing Wikipedia has to do to reform is to end the era of anonymous, unaccountable editors. Those who edit must have pages that put their real name and credentials. Given their powerful influence over the mindshare, and the appearance of Wikipedia nearly always on the top of every Google search, they need to have that public accountability. There should be a public rating system on their research and writing and silly notions that this will be "gamed" have to be discounted as these people are gaming all of us with their knowledge sect.

    The second thing that Wikipedia has to do is to create a clear, simple, intuitive set of principles for editing and contributing and redesign the interface for it -- away from this silly geeky old-fashioned wiki/weblog approach that nerds used in the 1990s.

    The third thing is that Wikipedia has to have a publicly transparent and accountable appeals and governance system where people can dispute entries without having to enter what is likely to remain a still-arcane editing process.

    I actually don't think Wikipedia is fixable, even if Google were to buy it out and fix its principles and interface. So I'm waiting for more democratic, liberal and accountable people to come along and make something better. Like Quora.

  • Mette Urth

    I must confess that I haven't really been a big user of Wikipedia because the design of the site always makes me feel that the informations are incorrect or amateur-like. And this just because of the look of it all. The puzzle logo reminds me of some Windows thing from the 90'ies. 
    BUT this re-design I truly LOVE. It makes it simple, yet complex. It unveils the many possibilities Wikipedia gives us, and it's so easy to use that I would trust it more AND collaborate much more than I have before. So I give the design big thumbs up and cross my fingers that it will be realised some day.

  • George Havli

    While I like several of the design changes, the people behind this have gotten the basic idea of Wikipedia wrong, I think. Wikipedia is not Google, their "business" (if we can call it such), is not to search, but to provide. They don't want to filter things out, they want to give you a "dish" of content everyday, so you can pick something, wander somewhere or simply browse through.

    The cryptic design of the "language bar" is also one thing I don't like. It's an invalidation of the KISS design rule. Wikipedia has it right. People may not understand the English language properly, they still have easy access to their native language content simply by searching around. Plus, it makes it an indirect competition of who "has it bigger".

    The stone that killed the idea was the oversimplification of the logo. This logo is extremely well suited. It shows the multiculturalism of Wikipedia, that it's not some big Anglo-encyclopedia with smaller branches, but it's truly a global project of people coming together and forming (thus, the puzzle appearance of logo) an atypical unison of humanity to promote this goal. Which is exactly the most central piece of the wiki project's culture. Why would someone simply ditch the whole culture and meaning just to follow a trend of oversimplification, I don't know.

    They are probably good at design, but they haven't done their homework with what Wikimedia wants. And that's probably why their idea was turned down.

  • Brandon Harris

    Well. They didn't actually come to us in order to be "turned down", but you've pretty much hit the nail on the head: this design shows a distinct lack of research into what Wikipedia is and is about.

    I am going to take issue with his comments about us not being ready for anything radical. Nothing could be farther from the truth - we are working on some *very* radical design changes.  But change control for a top-5 site is a tricky business and very time consuming.

  • Bob Potter

    The page cleanup stuff is nice. But the rainbow of fruit flavors and a letter for the product differentiation? I think there is a better solution than that old hat.

  • M J Horn

    Nice of the designers to consider the users, interfaces and navigation. Nice job

    However, it is the back-end and over WikiPedia process & monitoring that needs an overhaul.

    If you inadvertently fall foul of an editing 'rule' (try and work them out if you can) others in self-appointed postions of power can block your entire account indefinately.

    Try querying any decision made regards your account status, editing or 'promotional content' and you go round and round in a loop to absolutely nowhere.

    There is no objective management team looking after things - to large degree the lunatics have been put in charge of the asylum

    So a re-brand in this instance with lovely new logo types, information heirachy, navigation and interfaces is about as useful as wrapping dog poo in glittery paper - it doesn't address the really unappealing part.

  • Jesse

    Sounds like someone is butthurt after getting the ban hammer for trying repeatedly  to create an advertising page for their product on wikipedia... looks like the content monitoring is working perfectly!

  • AMM

    The typography is questionable. I wonder what their thought process was on that W? Or was there a thought process? Maybe they were thinking of communicating movement and change but for a logo of a huge power source maybe more font research and brainstorming would be a good idea. I love the idea though and the donation of time and energy to improve something that is for the people. 

  • Grave Hurst

    Horrible typography, sophomoric use of colour, bulky and bloated whitespace, and a totally unnecessary & self-indulgent brand "system" make me wonder why this is worth any mention at all. But by far the worst offense is the English/Roman centric nature of this rebrand... This company seems not to actually understand (or appreciate) the significance of the global community that powers Wikipedia beyond superficially comparing "this" vs "that" in coloured bars. The ridiculously dominating emphasis on search on the homepage is also evidence of this naivety. In attempting to "simplify", the suggested redesign is much more clunky and gimmicky than the original. Additionally, most of the clever "features" for refining the reading experience have long been available in various Wikipedia reading apps. The suggestions for enhancing the editing experience are interesting, but also imply development complications that I doubt the designers behind these mock-ups bothered to consider. Lastly, why bother mocking a redesign for something that will never be implemented? I would be much more impressed if this company put their money where their mouth is and actually developed their ideas as a Wikipedia reader. As this stands, this 'redesign' is little more than a few napkin sketches. 

  • Andrew Barnum

    Our Lithuanian friends have done a summer self-promotion project to re-design a site we all use everyday. Thanks guys. It's generated conversation, and as usual brought out the designer ray lamp verses congratulations for enterprise. These guys have a bulging inbox due to a pretty generous leap. I think this falls into the 'I wish I'd thought of that' bucket. Good luck to Tomas and his pals in Vilnius, I reckon they'll be busy.

  • Analise

    I agree with all points except the last one. I think the "unsolicited redesign" is a great way to build conversation and to share ideas, which exactly what has happened here. While I don't think the solution is at all noteworthy and places a lot of importance on trendiness, It creates a dialogue about what can be improved in many web experiences. The goal of this kind of redesign should not be to "impress you" but rather to provoke and ask new questions.

  • AMM

    The flipping of the W to make an M is very irritating. Great post; but, I think redesigns are great in hopes it will further evolve design and bring back good taste to the masses by exposure and debate. 

  • Danny Lopez

    You're being a bit harsh no? The redesign is definitely focused on search and showing a clearer hierarchy in the information presented...which to my limited understanding is a big part of the wikipedia experience.

    I think the page design succeeds due to it's elegance and simple-mindedness. On the other hand, the rebranding & identity design seems to lack some of the clarity that the page designs have. I like the use of a serif typography, as it reminds me of printed encyclopedias that we're set in serif typefaces (this aids legibility). I'm not sure about the way they categorize and brand each sub-section of wikipedia though. I'm not sure if there is enough distinction.

    Although to be perfectly honest, this is too much of a change in the wikipedia experience that it would be difficult for users to adjust to. But as an end goal, there are some really well executed ideas here.

  • jl05xi

    Wasn't there a faux-rebranding of the Wikipedia logo once? It's getting a little out of hand now! These rebrands are stripped down to the bare without any real personalities or distinctness to them and then thrown into the commercial masses..this one looks likes its been designed by someone who just read the Android brand book.