WikiWand has raised $600,000 from angel investor Saar Wilf to give users of Wikipedia an attractive new interface for the popular site. Though Wikipedia is one of the 10 most-visited sites in the world and an important online repository of information, it still looks much the same as it did when it launched back in 2001.
WikiWand wants to fix that with its browser extension, which is available for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox (the interface can also be accessed through WikiWand’s site). Wilf, who sold his company Fraud Services to PayPal in 2008 for $169 million, will serve as WikiWand’s chairman.
The team behind WikiWand built the web app as a solution to their own frustrations with Wikipedia’s user interface, says co-founder and CEO Lior Grossman.
“It didn’t make sense to us that the fifth most popular website in the world, used by half a billion people, has an interface that hasn’t been updated in over a decade,” Grossman says. “We found the Wikipedia interface cluttered, hard to read (large blocks of small text), hard to navigate, and lacking in terms of usability.”
The layout offered by WikiWand includes full-bleed cover photos; photo galleries; improved navigation via a top menu bar; a dynamic table of contents; easier access to article narration and audio clips; previews that pop up when you hover over links; and an easier-to-read font.
In the future, the company plans to monetize by integrating targeted ads for textbooks, articles, and classes, and says it will donate 30% of its profits to Wikipedia.
The startup will use its new funding to improve WikiWand for the web and to launch iOS and Android apps.