Wikipedia added a useful new feature earlier this week: page previews. The Wikimedia Foundation says that it’s “one of the largest changes to desktop Wikipedia made in recent years,” and provides readers with a pop-up window that provides a bit of additional context for the article behind the link.
Reading through any Wikipedia page can turn into a rabbit hole that can take you to places you never expected. That exploration can be a fun, informative adventure, but it can also be a distraction — especially if the article you click on isn’t actually useful. The new page previews show an image and a couple of sentences that briefly describe the article when you hover your mouse over the link, providing a bit more context for you to decide whether or not you need to click on the link. Clicking on the pop-up will take you to the article in question, and if you move the mouse away, it vanishes.
Wikimedia says that it’s conducted extensive A/B testing to develop the feature, and found that most users didn’t disable the feature, that “each reader is interacting with the content of more pages while navigating the site,” and that the site’s overall page views have gone down as a result. That appears to mean that users are finding the information on those pop-ups useful, allowing them to engage with more information, all while remaining on fewer pages.