As you may know, the WMF strategic plan released last March set ambitious goals for our movement’s next five years. At the top of the agenda for the forthcoming fiscal year is to increase mobile page views of Wikipedia to two billion by the end of June, 2012 – a substantial increase from the current count of 726 million in March, 2011. To meet this goal, the engineering, strategy and global development teams are redesigning our mobile site to provide an enhanced reading experience and to introduce mobile-specific editing capabilities. Our current mobile website (m.wikipedia.org) does not support editing, though our survey found that a small minority of editors (7%) edit desktop Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) on their mobile phone. The redesign of our mobile site is also strategically important for us to meet our goal of increasing reach in the global south, as majority of that population will be accessing Internet through mobile devices in the near future, completely bypassing the desktop web.
We have had interesting, wide-reaching discussions within our volunteer community in an effort to understand what new functionalities can be in-built into the mobile site to meet the needs of our editors. Our Editors Survey, April 2011 also asked editors which editing features they were more likely to use if they were in-built into the mobile website.
Despite the common perception (not including the SMS generation) that mobile phones are not well suited for entering text, 28% of editors in the survey said they were extremely/very likely to use a feature that allows paragraph and sentence editing, and 22% expressed support for a ‘creation of new article’ feature on mobile phones. We were surprised that editors pointed to a feature that would help upload pictures to Wikimedia Commons as the least likely to be used (only 21% provided strong support), although uploading a photo requires fewer clicks than writing text. Some editors (22%) also expressed support for anti-vandalism tools, such as Huggle, on the mobile phone.
We have also conducted user experience research of mobile readers of Wikipedia in India and Brazil to understand how we can enhance the mobile reading experience. In our interviews, we found that one high-ranking feature on the wish list of mobile readers is the ability to save an article and read it later offline. Even among editors, 38% said they were extremely/very likely to use a feature that would allow them to save articles for offline reading or editing.
We are confident that with the help of our community (editors and programmers) we will meet our goal of delivering a phone-based Wikipedia to more people globally. We have several initiatives underway, including a new mobile survey and a call for testers of the mobile gateway, that require both participation and feedback to maximize efficacy.
Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research
(This is the seventh in series of blog posts where we will share insights from the April 2011 Editors Survey)
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