Co.Design

Wikiwand Gives Us The Wikipedia Redesign Jimmy Wales Won't

This magic wand gives Wikipedia a modern redesign on any device.

We've seen our share of concepts for imbuing Wikipedia with a more modern and responsive design. But it's not likely that Jimmy Wales and Co. will adopt any of them--or any radical redesign, for that matter. The reason why is relatively straightforward. Wikipedia wants its site to work just as well on 10-year-old computers with low-resolution monitors and slow dial-up connections as it does on more modern devices. So Wikipedia plays things conservatively. But there's no reason you can't enjoy a better-looking Wikipedia.

Wikiwand is a tool that showcases Wikipedia articles with better typography, navigation, and layout on both widescreen and mobile devices. Using Wikiwand is easy. Instead of going to Wikipedia's website, just search for your articles through Wikiwand.com, which will then dynamically translate your articles into a more responsive layout with big, beautiful header images, easier-to-read typography, a universal navigation panel, and more. If you're a Google Chrome user, you can even install an extension that will automatically translate Wikipedia links into the Wikiwand format. Because the extension intelligent pre-fetches assets, the Chrome extension actually allows you to load Wikipedia pages faster than on Wikipedia proper.

Wikiwand's not going to be for everyone--the abundance of italics in the Wikiwand design makes our editor Suzanne LaBarre seethe in a festering rage--but if you've been looking forward to Wikipedia joining the rest of the Internet here in good ol' 2014, it's certainly worth a look. I might never go back to stock Wikipedia again.

Try Wikiwand for yourself here.

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6 Comments

  • GB Jenkins

    Beautiful work. I've had a look at the cheese page (now peckish) and the page of the place I work - also really well displayed. I know Jimmy Wales has his reasons for keeping the design simple but I'm glad there are people out there offering addons like this for those of seeking something more.

  • This is outstanding. Totally love the styling (minus the overuse of italics, as LaBarre seems to despise as well), but MAN... I won't be going back to "normal Wikipedia" ever again.

    Way easier to read and navigate. Great job Wikiwand, and a fat virtual high five to Lior Grossman and team.

  • Lior Grossman

    Thanks Steve! Much appreciated!

    BTW, we added a cogwheel in the toolbar that allows you to change the font type and get rid of the italics :)

  • Lior Grossman

    Thanks for the great write up John! By the way, we're about to introduce a few customization options such as font type, font size, etc.

    • Lior Grossman (Co-Founder & CEO, WikiWand)
  • morgan

    Why does the plugin require access to information on all of my tabs and websites? That makes it sound like a scam.

  • Lior Grossman

    Hi Morgan. This is required in order to provide a smooth user experience, let me explain:

    The goal of the WikiWand extension is to let people who like WikiWand replace their default Wikipedia interface with WikiWand. One would except that our extension will simply intercept navigation to Wikipedia and redirect the user to WikiWand. However, this has 2 very annoying side effects:

    1. It shows a "flash of Wikipedia" for a split second, and then it loads WikiWand. It looks horrible.
    2. It takes longer to load each article.

    That's why we need to find and replace links to Wikipedia - to provide a great and smooth user experience for users. This, however, requires our extension to access all websites in order to replace links to Wikipedia.

    Be assured that we do not track your browser activity in any way, or manipulate other websites except Wikipedia.

    Hopes this answers your question.

    • Lior Grossman (Co-Founder & CEO, WikiWand)