Wikipedia has made a subtle improvement to its site that should greatly improve the site’s usability and user experience.
The average article on Wikipedia includes footnotes (citations) of research sources and additional relevant information. Until recently, when a user clicked on a footnote number within the body of the article, the page would automatically “jump” to the bottom of the page where the numeric list of footnotes resided.
But that design was somewhat problematic: when users clicked on a footnote number and were redirected to the bottom of the page, they would have to scan the list of footnotes to find the number on which they clicked. Which, initially, doesn’t sound too bad, especially since the selected footnote is highlighted in a light blue color to make it stand out among the other footnotes. However, this “jump” would cause users to lose their “reading spot” on the article, forcing them to scroll back up the page and find where they s
The solution? Well, Wikipedia now offers a “Reference Tooltips” feature: users can hover the mouse cursor over the footnote number in the article, which will prompt the appearance of a pop-up box. This box contains the footnote’s information (e.g., a citation or a link to another resource). In a nutshell, this feature prevents the automatic “jump” and, therefore, prevents users from losing their spot on the page. In the screenshot below, I hovered my cursor over Footnote #42 on Wikipedia’s Memorial Day article, which prompted a pop-up a box containing information about Footnote #42:
In addition, Wikipedia makes this Reference Tooltips feature optional and somewhat customizable. If users click on the gear symbol that appears in the right-hand corner of the pop-up box (see above), the following Options box appears:
A small, subtle change can make a significant difference in improving user experience, and this new feature illustrates that fact. Looks like Wikipedia is listening to its users.