Wikipedia's first desktop design update in a decade doesn't rock the boat (updated)

The changes make it easier to read and search.

Wikimedia Foundation

Wikipedia is finally getting its first major redesign in a decade, but it may be notable precisely because of how little it changes the core experience. The newly launched rework looks very familiar, and instead eliminates some common hassles. A new sticky header provides quick access to search and article sections, while a revised search shows images and descriptions as you type. It's easier to switch languages, and a table of contents helps you navigate content. TechCrunch also points to smaller tweaks, such as a collapsible sidebar that lets you remove distractions while reading.

The Wikipedia update is rolling out now for English users. Wikimedia has already made the update available to 300 of the 318 active languages on the site. It's already the default for Arabic and Greek readers. The team is still asking for feedback, so don't be surprised if the site continues to evolve.

Wikimedia Foundation makes clear that it hasn't removed any functionality, and that the changes led to real-world gains in testing with international volunteer groups. Users searched 30 percent more often, and scrolled 15 percent less. The redesign is meant to modernize Wikipedia by making it more accessible to a "next generation" of internet users who may not be very familiar with the web, according to the creators. You may not pay much notice to the changes if you're a diehard reader, then, but those just coming online may appreciate the ease of use.

Update 1/19 11:50AM ET: Wikimedia tells Engadget it "ultimately" didn't introduce a larger default font with today's rollout, but that it still hopes to make this change in the future. We've updated our story accordingly.