Research:UI standardization wants and needs analysis

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Tracked in Phabricator:
Task T119034
20:42, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
Duration:  2015-December – 2016-April
This page documents a completed research project.

Wikimedia pages host a wide variety of pages that are designed to serve specific purposes beyond presenting free, high quality information for a general audience. In addition to content pages, user pages, policies, and discussion forums many Wikimedia projects include portals and project pages designed to support collaborative work, as well as special interest documents such as help pages and tutorials.

Examples of these types of pages include:

Many of these types of pages are designed to present information in a specialized way, or to support particular workflows and modes of interaction. People who design these pages can draw on a variety of tools, such as templates, inline CSS and HTML, gadgets, and widgets to build MediaWiki pages to suit their needs.

This wants and needs analysis[1] will help the design research and UI Standardization teams better understand the work of people who build specialized pages. In particular, the team is interested in learning the challenges these users face, such as:

  • accomplishing their design tasks within the limitations of MediaWiki, and
  • locating relevant help documentation and other design resources

We will ask users to brainstorm and prioritize ideas for improving existing information resources (such as style guides), and to suggest improvements to the documentation and software to make them more useful and accessible.


We will perform a wants and needs analysis (a type of focus group) with 3-6 participants who build pages on wiki that are designed for particular purposes. Ideal participants are people who work on projects that have complex information design or interaction design requirements that go beyond the standard formatting tools and guidelines for content pages on Wikimedia wikis.

Participants will be contacted via email, and will participate in a 1-2 hour focus group. A focus group facilitator will lead the discussion and ask questions and and one or more designated note-takers will record participants responses.


  • December 2015: recruit participants, design protocol, and run the focus group
  • January - March 2016: Run additional interviews and focus groups as needed
  • April 2016: analyze data and publish results

Policy, Ethics and Human Subjects Research[edit]

All participants who are not WMF staff will be asked read and sign a consent form that describes their role in the research study, and how their identifying information and responses will be collected and shared.


Slides from a presentation of findings for this study, shared on April 27th.


  1. Courage, Catherine; Baxter, Kathy (2005-01-01). Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Requirements : Methods, Tools, and Techniques. Gulf Professional Publishing. ISBN 9781558609358.