Give Wikipedia a sleek, user-friendly visual overhaul with the Wikiwand extension

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Wikipedia is easily the greatest compendium of human knowledge ever created. Sure, academics have their issues with it and pranksters love messing with it, but as a starting point to learn about pretty much any topic you can think of you simply can’t beat Wikipedia.

But it does have its downsides. One thing that’s always irked me is the interface. On the PC, to put it bluntly, it sucks. It’s very busy, with text and boxes everywhere, and the article navigation links are oddly placed.

A Chrome extension called Wikiwand aims to change all that by giving Wikipedia a much-needed visual overhaul. To use it all you have to do is download the extension from the Chrome Web Store and it starts working automatically any time you visit Wikipedia. It’s not perfect, however, and security-conscious users may not like it.

A look at Wikiwand

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Wikipedia’s Ultron page on Wikiwand.

Let’s say you were searching for information about Ultron before you went out to see the new Avengers movie.

When you click on the link to Wikipedia, Wikiwand automatically redirects you to its site for the improved version of the article. On the left-hand side of the screen you have a navigation column featuring the same links that are in the Contents box on Wikipedia.

Wikiwand also gives greater prominence to the article’s primary image and in some cases adds a full screen background image—check out the Microsoft or NASA pages to see this.

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Wikiwand displays previews of other Wikipedia pages when you hover over a link.

The extension adds previews when you hover over a link in an article. Keep your mouse pointer over “adamantium” in the Ultron article, for example, and you’ll get a quick write-up explaining the fictional metal alloy.

Wikiwand also creates a gallery out of the images included in a page. To start it, just click on any image to maximize it and you immediately enter the gallery. Other features include the ability to switch between different Wikipedia languages, as well as adjustable typography if you want to enlarge text, switch font types, and so on.

Security-focused users may not like the idea of Wikiwand redirecting you to a third-party site instead of creating an overlay right in Wikipedia itself. But if you’re okay with that, Wikiwand is definitely worth checking out for a far more eye-friendly Wikipedia.

And if you ever get tired of Wikiwand, you can switch back to Wikipedia by clicking the icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

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