Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Improve User Experience
Connection to other recommendations
This recommendation proposes the idea of evaluating and making changes to our systems so that they better serve the needs of our stakeholders. These ideas are discussed in the ‘Create Cultural Change for Inclusive Communities’, ‘Promote Sustainability and Resilience’, ‘Provide for Safety and Security’, and ‘Coordinate Across Stakeholders’.
The strategic direction also states that “anyone who shares our vision should be able to join us,” so we must strive towards a reality where people are not held back in any way by related barriers or unaddressed needs by our technology and people. We must encourage communities to work towards shaping the projects to match the needs of those who are using them as knowledge consumers, along with those who are not yet participating as contributors.
For knowledge consumers, focusing on improving the user experience for any Wikimedia platform is strategic when considering technological changes. To focus on delivering engaging, free knowledge consumption experiences, it is necessary to embrace technological advancements. With the increasing diversity of devices, interfaces, and interactions with all sorts of intelligent virtual assistants, we must pay attention to both the information of knowledge and how it is consumed. For contributors, ensuring that everyone is included and has opportunities to learn and contribute is a matter of equity and knowledge integrity; the risk of exclusion has direct repercussions in shrinking the base of contributors and threatening the future sustainability, accuracy, and relevance of the Movement.
Having a good user experience is part of the cultural change that we desire for this Movement and guarantees the community's participation and diversity. Participation affects not only the quality of our work, but also the continuity of the project, which often relies on communities whose core editors — both in terms of number of edits and the functional role they occupy — are still the same ones as five to ten years ago.
In the current Wikimedia structural reality, content is central with all the processes, tools, platforms, and even communication channels orbiting around it. Though this structure has been successful in achieving popularity and replication across communities, it has also become an obstacle for engaging with other knowledge communities. Having a good user experience requires continually improving on multiple dimensions and taking a more people-centered approach in the way we operate. For example, the first experiences newcomers have and their ability to access learning resources, mentors, or guidance to perform any task is especially crucial for fostering their retention and continued engagement.
Ensuring a space free of conflict, or with mechanisms to mitigate conflict, is fundamental and benefits all contributors. The specific solutions could range from hiring staffing dedicated to conflict resolution, to defining clear processes and follow-up practices, to training. Toxic environments can affect contributors based on their individual characteristics; there should be clear understanding in the communities of the existence of toxicity as well as about how to both prevent it and address it if it arises.
To improve the user experience in both the consultation and contribution to knowledge throughout the Wikimedia ecosystem, we recommend an approach based on several actions. Enhancing the user experience requires following a people-centered, iterative process of research and analysis, proposal and testing of changes, and dissemination of the results among all the stakeholders.
In Wikimedia, this involves both the designers, technical developers, and the communities, ultimately responsible for accepting or discarding the implementation of these changes. For this, communities must be aware of the current state of the situation and take responsibility for the platform, accepting and encouraging the changes which address the barriers and needs that prevent their growth, diversification, and participation throughout the world. To raise awareness, we must visualize the degree of satisfaction of every product and functionality in a transparent and findable way, so that they can be constantly monitored by any stakeholder, and receive suggestions for improvement or query the attention of the development teams.
In our Movement, the research and analysis of the user experience requires observing the interactions within and outside our platforms to evaluate the impact of a diverse range of both technological and human aspects that affect it, such as the platform technological characteristics, social conflicts, lack of access to suitable learning resources, among others. In addition, it must take into account a diverse range of advanced user roles requiring highly specialized workflows, technical contributors (such as template maintainers or Cloud Services tool developers), as well as those of newcomers and emerging communities.
Any changes proposed must be tested to ensure usability and accessibility while safeguarding the privacy and security of users. Feedback from newcomers is particularly valuable for evaluating best practices, as experienced contributors may have already developed workarounds for system limitations. In general, having a wide pool of users who test technology will guarantee good usability, which is especially key for newcomers and is essential to guarantee our growth and diversity.
Based on current reported feedback and results, the user experience would improve by including, welcoming, and appreciating newcomers, with easy-to-find and easy-to-access resources, active outreach, and support programs. Mentorship programs, in order to facilitate learning processes, have previously been effective. For all users, transparency of the platform’s functionalities, availability of learning resources and training, and clear reporting channels to escalate access, human, or technological concerns with appropriate urgency (e.g., fix the platform for the visually impaired) are needed. Policies for conflict management must provide methods to deal with issues before, during, and after.
The development of solutions to these identified needs and problems must be prioritized with urgency and receive constant attention by developers and designers to ensure the goal of including future communities. To advance the development of new interfaces and other more speculative features, following new technological trends and those on the horizon, we encourage the creation of a new communication space to continue developing the software in coordination with Third-party developers.
- Involve representatives of all stakeholders in an iterative process of research of the UX within and outside our platforms to propose, test, and implement changes.
- Provide easy-to-use technological enhancements that have been tested with a broad representative sample of current stakeholders and potential new members.
- Provide user interfaces purposely designed for a wide range of devices, such as from mobile phones and computers, so that users can contribute in diverse contexts.
- Provide newcomers with easy-to-find and easy-to-understand resources, such as onboarding media and guiding interfaces helping them independently navigate and learn their way.
- Provide easily accessible pathways for users to report incidents, either technical or human, and have them addressed effectively, and with appropriate urgency, regardless of language or location, while respecting privacy.
- Provide new mechanisms that allow finding peers with specific interests, roles, and objectives along with communication channels to interact and collaborate.
- Provide mechanisms so that users can give feedback on the degree of satisfaction with every platform and functionality, and an easy method for everyone to access this information.
- Ensure our platforms comply with the most advanced accessibility guidelines (WCAG for web, W3C mobile web best practices, etc.), such as through diverse font sizes for the visually impaired or video subtitles for the auditory impaired.
- Ease the path to propose and create new wikis (including new language versions) and to reuse community-developed software features on them.
- Invest in efficient and usable developer tooling to allow technical contributors to create and maintain their tools.
- Create a communication space for Third-party developers to encourage the enhancement of our software aiming at creating new interfaces based on technological trends such as AR browsers or IoT Glasses that improve our user experiences.
- Provide training to avoid conflicts, processes for mediation and conflict resolution when they occur, and follow-up best practices to apply in the aftermath of the conflict to avoid future recurrences.
- Provide a welcoming environment through mentor-based programs that actively reach out to newcomers using best practices both within and beyond the Movement to help and guide them in contributing.