Wikipedia invests in usability for 2009

Both Wikia and Wikipedia will be very focused on usability in 2009.

On December 3rd, the Wikimedia Foundation was awarded a grant of $890,000 by the Stanton Foundation to make Wikipedia’s editing interface easier to use.

In a recent interview, co-founder of Wikia Angela Beesley noted that Wikia had already launched a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor for MediaWiki, the software that both Wikia and Wikipedia use. This aims to allow new users to start editing or creating new pages more quickly, with no need to learn complex markup. Wikia has also introduced a new look-and-feel targeted at making the site easier to navigate for new users. She said:

“wikis …developed out of a very geeky culture…
but to reach a mainstream audience, they need to be
as easy to use as blogs and social networking sites.”

Perhaps this announcement is another clue that 2009 is going to be a big year for usability – both for governments and for Open Source projects.

And if, like us, you believe that usability is one of the best careers in the world, then you may be interested in Wikipedia’s recent job adverts for the Wikipedia Usability Initiative – which includes an Interaction Designer with usability experience to join them in San Francisco.

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