Using Wikipedia as a quick reference has become the norm in our daily online activities. We’ve grown used to the basic, stripped down interface and for some this is what makes it effective and functional.
However, this interface hasn’t changed since 2004 and Lior Grossman and Ilan Lewin found the dated and sometimes less user-friendly Wikipedia frustrating to use. At times Wikipedia’s interface appears cluttered and difficult to navigate.
To solve the problem, they launched WikiWand, a browser extension in August of 2014.
WikiWand is available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and installs within seconds. It instantly provides Wikipedia users with a different look for Wikipedia pages.
At first glance the biggest change is the large photos and more visually inclined look. Even thumbnails are more prominent. (see example below)
Typography has been changed to a serif font, which interestingly enough, is usually more difficult to read. WikiWand already receive some criticism regarding this choice of font and might change it to something more readable in future.
Other changes are on a more practical level and include easier browsing and navigation between different sections and pages. A list of contents remain static on the left side of the page, even when you switch sections. No more unnecessary scrolling! A feature which Wikipedia doesn’t have and a valuable addition.
In addition the section you’re reading at the moment is highlighted in the side-menu. Also included is a navigation bar, links to other languages and a “share” button.
One of WikiWand’s biggest advantages is the ability to preview linked articles. In other words, any link contained in the article you’re reading can be previewed by hovering over the link with the mouse. The preview will give you a short summary of the related topic without you having to click on it and switch to another tab.
If WikiWand isn’t your cup of tea, there are many other tools to customise Wikipedia if you should choose to. Read more on www.lifehacker.com if you’re interested.