The New Menu and Launching Things

Hey all,

It may come as a surprise to some of you, but we redesigned the top menu that shows up most places you’re logged in (lessons and reviews being the notable exceptions). We introduced our new logo, made everything more compact, and generally refreshed its appearance.

We’re excited about the changes, even if some of them are a bit contentious. But…

We botched the introduction of a pretty big change. There was a distinct lack of a heads up for anyone/everyone, and we overloaded the changes by introducing new colors at the same time. We didn’t examine the system-wide impact of the color change closely enough, and we missed the contrast and saturation problems with the new kanji pink.

We made design changes without obvious up-sides for y’all. There are upsides, but they aren’t obvious, and change is easier when a.) you know it’s coming and b.) it makes things better, not just different.

So, we know we dropped the ball. How are we going to do better next time we make design changes?

  • We’ll make announcements of changes before they happen. We’re tossing around some timeframes for that, but it’ll be at least three days before they happen, with bigger changes having more time for people to react and provide feedback.
  • When we make those announcements, we’ll put them up on a preview site for people to see and play with them. That site will let you log in to your regular account and do all the things you could normally, but with the design changes right there. We’ll have a feedback window; the design and code will be fluid during that time while we adjust things based on input, then static until the launch date to let people see the finished work (and adjust their scripts).
  • We’re making a commitment to universal design. As we improve the site, we want to make things better to use for everyone . Our process will include examining contrast ratios, color usage, using the right markup, and script support for all kinds of input and output devices (Nintendo DS browser, I’m looking at you), to name a few.

The main goal is to make you participants in the process instead of just spectators. Let us know what you like or don’t like and, if you find yourself with a few extra minutes, go into some detail about why. You don’t need to write an essay or get all technical (although you can if you want), just tell us what you’re thinking. You’re helping to shape the future of WaniKani so make the most of it!

It’s also worth mentioning that there will be a lot of voices in these conversations. We’re going to do our best to balance them all, but it’s fair to expect that sometimes not everyone will be happy with the final decision that gets made. When that happens, we’ll try and explain what the reasons were so that what we’re doing doesn’t feel arbitrary.

Thanks to everyone who responded with feedback (constructive and otherwise) to the menu changes. It pushed us to make it better. On that note, push us to make the process better: share your thoughts, solicited advice, and general love/hate/neutrality towards mustard yellow with us.





Looking forward to changes :smiley:


Thank you for this write-up, and a peek at the thought process, it’s very much appreciated.

I actually love the design (as of today), but I really miss being able to see my current level on the bar without opening a menu. I leveled up and didn’t even notice; something that should be a small cause for celebration and motivation instead got completely missed :frowning:


That sounds great. Thanks for making an effort to include us in the decision making process. :heart:

That being said, don’t try to please everyone and believe in yourself. You’ve done a great job so far and I’m sure you’ll do a great job in the future too. And remember, people who are unhappy are usually much louder than the ones who are happy, so you won’t hear the happy people as much.



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Thank y’all for your work! And for being so attentive towards feedback!

I love the design of the site overall. I still think the kanji color for lessons and reviews is obnoxiously bright (during the night I can turn around while on a kanji and my room with be pink), but other than that everything is quite smooth and I also love a change to make everything feel new again.

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Thank you so much for this write up, for deciding on doing things this way, and generally for being awesome people who listen to us when we have issues. It’s huge and very much appreciated. :heart:


Thanks for the heads up :smiley: and for listening to our feedback \o/


Oh my gosh do you need to think of those even, I feel so sorry D::::


I’ll buy a DS just to make it worth it


Oh why did I sell it


Not really, no, thankfully.

But it is a tiny screen with weird controls. I mean, if we could make it look good there without any hacks or different accommodations, that’d be a crazy success — or a website that just said “Hello, world!”


Thank you so much! Great job! Really apreciated.

By the way, are you working on Wanikani official app as well?

Thank you, that’s very kind! There’s a danger in trying to make everyone happy, in that it can pull you in all sorts of directions and you lose a cohesive design vision. At the same time, if enough people are complaining about something, there’s usually a reason for it. It’s a bit of a balancing act, staying true to your own vision while also being responsive to your user base.

I think one of the big things we want to acknowledge is that there are people in the community who care a whole lot about WaniKani, and that’s a good thing. While at the end of the day the final decision on something is going to be ours, we don’t make WaniKani just for ourselves, and it’s good to remember that too. :slight_smile:


Thank you and I do appreciate the warning. I like the new logo, so there is that.

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I love the way you are communicating with us. Thank you! It makes me feel like, not only part of a family, but also a valued customer.

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I’m happy to hear there is so much thought (and effort to include user input!) put into design changes. I only recently joined, but the thoughtfulness and attention to detail throughout the app are a big part of the reason I decided to stick around after the free trial.

I’ll be fascinated to try things out in your new “beta” - sounds like it will be a lot of fun!

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