As the beta period draws to a close, we wanted to give you an overview of the process and a look at some of the statistics and changes that came out of the testing. We began the private beta for the new look in mid August and the public beta on 6 wikis in late September. During the beta process we gathered feedback through a private forum and the in-page feedback tool. The beta officially ends tomorrow, October 6th, and the in-page feedback tool will be removed.
Over 475 users participated in the private beta and over 200 of these users joined in the discussion on the private beta forum. The forum generated almost 300 topics, with a total of 1804 posts and the in-page feedback tool received over 1500 responses from both private and public beta.
We were really impressed by the active participation and the amount of feedback and bug reports -- which we went through extensively, piece by piece. In some cases we felt that the feedback, along with discussion within our team, was enough to merit a change on its own, and you can see those changes now (or coming soon) on the new look.
Here are a few examples of the changes we made during the beta period:
Wikia header size reduction: The feedback we heard and agreed with was that the header was considered too large and the avatar too small. We've shrunk the header by 27% and increased the user avatar size to 25x25 pixels. We also reduced the font size of the hub pages and made the “Start a Wiki” button smaller.
Font change: When we first released the new look we were using a very pretty but uncommon font called Dagny. We heard a lot about Dagny both in terms of look and compatibility, and so made the decision to change to clearer, more universally used font types. The final fonts for the new look are Arial on Windows and Helvetica on MacOS and Linux.
Spotlight logic: Once we looked at the spotlights in action, we felt -- as many of you did -- that they were a bit overwhelming on shorter pages. So we implemented logic that removes one set of spotlights if a page has less content.
Dismissible notifications: There was a lot of feedback about the inability to dismiss notifications directly from the page you’re on rather than having to go to the talk page to remove the notification, as is possible in Monaco. We added a small “close” icon in the corner of notifications to allow them to be dismissed on any page.
Search and toolbar on more pages: In a previous version the sidebar (which contains search) along with the toolbar were removed from certain pages such as Diff and History. We heard a lot of feedback that people found search and the toolbar on these pages useful, so we added it back in.
Icon changes (will be released Oct 6, 2010): Many people were confused by the look of the section edit and comment icons. We're now redesigning them into new icons and adding in the text links "Edit" and "Comments" to make them more familiar and noticeable.
New Pages module changes (will be released Oct 6, 2010): The New Pages module will no longer display specific pages alongside user avatars. Instead it will show the total number of pages created on that wiki.
Wiki activity module (will be released Oct 6, 2010): Instead of having an expanded New Pages module we’ve opted to include a module which shows the latest wiki activity. Rather than display user avatars in this module, we’re going to show icons that illustrate the actions -- just as they are on the Wiki Activity page.
Followed Pages (will be released Oct 6, 2010): We heard a lot of people wondering where their followed pages were, so we’ve added a tab in Wiki Activity for followed pages.
We realize that there is some strong feedback about some features that have not been modified, like fixed width. Though feedback is one way to assess the product, there are many other pieces of this puzzle, such as organic site usage and feedback by the entire user base. This is a work in progress. Over the coming months these factors will give us more insight into the success of the changes we’ve made.
Most of all, we want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the beta, gave feedback through the in-page feedback tool, and through the blogs. This has truly been a team effort, and your reports and feedback have helped us make the first release of the new look even better.
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