New Readers/Retention

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The New Readers program seeks to expand the reach of Wikipedia in emerging markets, where usage is lagging behind internet penetration. The overall goal is to drive growth of Wikipedia in emerging markets through increasing readership, particularly on mobile devices. More engaged readers should lead to more editors and therefore more content where Wikipedia currently has gaps.

Defining the challenge[edit]

Mobile internet penetration is expected to grow from 28% to 45% in developing markets from 2014 to 2020, an increase of 700 million potential Wikipedia readers and editors. Research in 2016 indicated low awareness of Wikipedia for both online and offline readers in key markets in emerging countries.

Country code Country name % of people who report having heard of Wikipedia (internet and non internet users) % of internet users who report having heard of Wikipedia
NG Nigeria 23% 27%
IN India 22% 33%
MX Mexico 45% 51%

The Wikimedia Foundation New Readers team has since made subsequent pilot interventions in marketing, product, partnerships, and grants. As a result of these interventions, the Product team is ready to create prototypes with a series of product changes that will engage and delight new readers of Wikipedia. This product exploration is aimed for users who will be using mobile platforms for their primary online presence, and in many cases, as the only way they go online.

Product goal[edit]

Deliver compelling experiences to Wikipedia readers in emerging markets, driving increased adoption and retention of Wikipedia.

Implementation Approach[edit]

The New Readers Product team will work with a design agency based in emerging markets, with experience in designing products for the types of user personas identified in the 2016 research. These prototypes will be tested in India. The team will work with a design agency based in India to:

  • Re-evaluate and validate the relevance of our research findings from the 2016 user research
  • Create 3 - 5 concepts and high fidelity prototypes
  • Test the prototypes in the field with potential Wikipedia users


Functional prototypes of 3-5 product concepts for Wikipedia, to be tested in India by the Wikimedia Foundation.


  • December 2018: Agency recruitment
  • January 2019: Start of contract
  • January - February 2019: Concept development
  • March - June 2019: Development of concepts, prototypes and usability testing
  • June 2019: Delivery of final recommendations

The Wikimedia Foundation will take winning ideas to larger-scale testing following delivery of the prototypes.

2019 Product Team[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

Angela Muigai - Senior Product Manager

Anne Gomez - Senior Program Manager

Nirzar Pangarkar - Design Director

Runa Bhattacharjee - Senior Engineering Manager

External Partner[edit]

To support our design work, we will select a design agency in India that has experience designing and building products for new online users, particularly on mobile. The agency we select will meet the following criteria:

Competency & Quality
1. Have a portfolio of high quality creative work

2. Knowledgeable about local user requirements, evolving platform adoption patterns, and regional industry practices

Project Fit
1. Coherent details of work plans on the proposal

2. Ready to deliver on budget and within schedule 3. Open to work with international stakeholders

Mission Fit
1. Aware of the Wikimedia movement

2. Aligned with free knowledge and an open culture of sharing 3. (Bonus) aware of the value of community participation & stakeholding

Product Experiments[edit]

With the goal to deliver compelling experiences to Wikipedia readers in emerging markets, product concept explorations for the New Readers Program began in February 2019. The Wikimedia Foundation hired a design agency, Uncommon, who have experience designing products for Indian users. Their task is to to develop 3 - 5 concepts and high fidelity prototypes for testing with current and potential Wikipedia users. The prototypes will be tested in India, and will be geared towards a mobile web experience.

Experiment Design Priorities[edit]

The WMF and Uncommon teams held a design sprint in mid February 2019, to determine what the prototyping design direction would be. It was decided that the prototypes would:

1. Allow users to explore content and related articles easily in the way they use their language day to day

2. Lead Wikipedia's browsing experience to feel less long form and more “snackable” (the ability for a user to get a comprehensive understanding of a piece of meaningful content in a short summary)

3. Make Wikipedia delightful to browse

Participant/User testing approach[edit]

The Uncommon team will have a sprint, where the team will propose and prioritize features to be tested. 5 - 8 participants would then test an interactive prototype with the features agreed within a 7-10 day period. Their feedback would then be synthesized and improved upon in the coming week, and the process repeated again, until the concepts are refined enough to take to engineering to build prototypes that can go live.

Wikipedia Reader Journey for Sukhwinder

The participant selection will be based off of the target persona of the experiment, Sukhwinder. Particularly focused on the engagement and retention sections of the reader journey on Wikipedia.

Monthly updates[edit]

March 2019[edit]

  • User testing done on 27th and 29th March 2019 in Indore, MP & Varanasi, UP
  • Features tested in Indore and Vanasi included:
    • Voice search within an article
    • Stories within an article (an image heavy, 4 screen scrollable experience, with short sentence captions at the bottom of each image)
    • Page previews for mobile web
  • User tests wer held in Bangalore with 7 participants on March 13th 2019.

February 2019[edit]

  • WMF team travels to India for a design sprint from February 18 to February 24, 2019
  • Persona focus for the sprint is Sukhwinder, who is not a comfortable English reader, and uses Wikipedia occasionally
  • A user test was run at the end of that week with 7 participants
  • The features tested at this sprint included:
    • Ability to identify and switch to preferred language
    • A summarized short version of an article with quick facts
    • Reading long form content is accessible through a "Continue reading" button
    • Video front and center of a user's content consumption

January 2019[edit]

  • Uncommon selected as the design agency WMF will work with, after interviewing 9 other design agencies in India.