What just happened? Wikipedia is the internet's most used collaborative encyclopedia, or - as they like to say - the largest collection of open knowledge in history. Now, an updated design strives to make such knowledge even more user-friendly and easy to access by people all around the world.

Wikipedia is getting a design refresh, the first major update to the site's desktop interface in over ten years. Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization which hosts Wikipedia servers and other related projects like the MediaWiki platform, has announced the redesign just in time for Wikipedia's 22nd birthday (January 15).

"Wikipedia's content and popularity has grown substantially over the last two decades," the Foundation explains, with a trove of information comprising over 58 million articles written in more than 300 languages. Volunteers around the world edit and manage the free encyclopedia, while internet users visit the site nearly 16 billion times every month.

Wikimedia Foundation quotes a global analysis on digital trends from 2022, which states that the number of people who are not connected to the internet dropped below 3 billion for the first time in history. More than 5 billion netizens are now online, and Wikipedia's redesign has been conceived to meet the needs of this "next generation of internet users."

The new design should make it easier for everyone, "regardless of their familiarity with the internet," to find and consult knowledge that is trustworthy and reliable. The improved desktop interface features a new "table of contents" navigation panel that remains visible as users scroll down the page, a more prominently-placed link to find and switch the available languages an article is written in, a maximum line width which should make long texts more comfortable to read and easier to retain.

Wikipedia desktop now provides an improved search experience, with images and descriptions to make finding articles easier, a new collapsible sidebar to access the many tools Wikipedia provides without distracting users from reading, and an updated header for logged users that will stay on top during text scrolling.

Wikipedia redesign is the culmination of a lengthy Desktop Improvements project, and just like any content hosted on the free encyclopedia it was the result of a collaboration of 30 different volunteer groups from all over the world. The new design was further shaped by global research insights and user feedback, and is inspired by the same core idea of knowledge equity the Wikimedia Foundation was born from.

"The Wikipedia desktop update is one of the major improvements the Wikimedia Foundation is making to help people easily access the world's knowledge," said Selena Deckelmann, Chief Product and Technology Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation. The new features are "aiming to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse audience," Deckelmann stated, "while keeping the simple and straightforward feel that millions of people have come to trust over the last 22 years."