Wikipedia is a great service to look up things you are interested in or want a deeper understanding of. While it may not be 100% accurate on everything, it does offer a solid starting point for research or getting an overview on many topics.
Wikipedia stays true to the encyclopedic nature of the site by throwing pages of texts and lots of links at you when you open an article. While you find an occasional picture as well thrown in, it is usually just text and links that it makes available.
That may not discourage users from using the site, but it does not mean that the layout, design and presentation could not be better.
That's the premise of the WikiWand project. It takes Wikipedia articles and modernizes to improve their readability by a mile.
Here is how it works:
You either visit the WikiWand website directly, type in a search term and select one of the results that it makes available to load the modernized design of the article, or you install the Chrome extension which redirects Wikipedia links automatically to WikiWand.
Here is an example, first the original Wikipedia article and then the modernized WikiWand version of the same article.
Here is a list of core changes that WikiWand introduces:
- The layout has been optimized. You find a static sidebar menu on the left that links to the different chapters or parts of an article so that those are only a click away. The Wikipedia sidebar with links to all languages, tools and other information unrelated to the article have been removed from there. It is possible to hide the sidebar menu so that the article uses all the width of the page.
- The typography and design adjusts automatically based on the size of the browser window.
- When you hover over a link that points to another Wikipedia article, you get a preview of the contents right on the page.
In addition to all of that, loading times are faster as well. According to the creators of WikiWand, up to three times as fast under certain circumstances. I did not really notice any speed improvements but that is likely because I'm using a fast Internet connection. If you are on a slower line, you may very well notice improvements in this regard.
WikiWand provides you with the means to switch to another language easily at the top of the screen. This needs to be done if you want to search the site (and thus Wikipedia) in a different language than the default language English).
Some options, such as printing the article, editing it or downloading it as a pdf file, are still available as well but link to Wikipedia when selected. You find them located under the dropdown menu at the top.
If you spend time on Wikipedia regularly you may like what WikiWand has to offer. It improves the readability of Wikipedia articles quite a bit without sacrificing any of the information in the process. Thumbs up.