Analysis of WikiHow

WikiHow Logo
Screenshot WikiHow's logo

Wikihow is the seventh-ranking site in the Reference Materials category, according to Similar Web. The site ranks among the top Search Engine Result Page (SERP) results for many how-to queries. As a writer and photographer for how-to content, I analyzed WikiHow since it represents my primary discourse community.

Brief  History

Internet entrepreneur Jack Herrick founded WikiHow in 2005 after drawing inspiration from Wikipedia. He aimed to create an extensive database of researched and reputable how-to content that’s clear and easy to follow. Like Wikipedia, the site allows users to add, create, and change content. Although anyone can contribute, WikiHow works with experts to ensure the information is correct, up-to-date, and based on the latest research.

Content Analysis

As a producer of how-to content, I know that providing straightforward, easy-to-understand directions with relevant visual cues is essential. From the moment a user arrives at WikiHow’s landing page, it’s clear what to do. 

Landing Page

Screenshot of WikiHow landing page
Screenshot of WikiHow landing page

1. The title in the upper left corner cleverly displays the site’s motto. It’s also a search bar, which they indicate with a magnifying glass icon

2. The upper right-hand corner navigation bar uses an icon/text combination for added usability

3. The main search bar offers a text prompt to aid with searching content.

4. The graphic of the stacked books is a clever way to repeat the site’s motto, and it offers a visual clue to the content: information. 

5. The thumbnails offer a preview of the content, and the visuals do a decent job of explaining what the content will cover.  

Post Page

Screenshot of a WikiHow post page
Screenshot of a WikiHow post page

When the user clicks one of the thumbnails, it will navigate directly to the article. Each article is laid out the same way.

  1. The navigation menu is at the top.
  2. The right column displays information about the authors, updates, and ratings.
  3. The middle section shows the table of contents with hyperlinks to jump directly to a specific section. There’s an option to download the article in PDF format.
  4. The bold headline displays the content's intent.
  5. Byline information is displayed again, with hyperlinks to the primary author’s bio and the contributor's edit history
A pumpkin on a piece of paper.
Screenshot of a step on WikiHow

The article follows a similar format used in many how-to articles on competing sites such as Lifehacker, Instructables, and The Spruce. This format includes:

  • Subheadline with numbered step 
  • Visuals illustrating the main action of the step
  • Bold imperative sentence that summarized the main action, followed by detailed instructions to complete the step

There’s also a link in the upper right-hand corner to download the PDF version of the tutorial. 

Visual Appeal

Screenshot of WikiHow mobile view
WikiHow mobile view screenshot

WikiHow uses a green, white, and back color palette. The ads are tastefully integrated between blocks of content, and there are no pop-up ads. The site is mobile-friendly too. There is an inconsistency with the visuals. Most of the articles use illustrations, but the style isn’t consistent. WikiHow also uses a mix of stock imagery and user-supplied photos. The photos were relevant to the articles I previewed and clearly illustrated the steps. I think WikiHow’s visual appeal is pleasing but a little busy.

Credibility 

Up close view of a citation on a web page.
Screenshot of a citation found on WikiHow

WikiHow claims their content is “accurate and based on well-established research and testimony.” When I examined a few citations, they did not link to primary resources. Many of the citations are linked to competitor websites. As a writer who produced content for many of WikiHow’s competitors, I know that my work did not always link to primary resources but was based on my experience and knowledge. 

Screenshot of expert source link on WikiHow.
Screenshot of expert source link on WikiHow

The author is listed as the interviewed expert source in the above example. Since carving a pumpkin has few primary sources, I navigated to the garden category to check references. It was a mixture of primary and secondary sources. WikiHow may primarily rely on its expert panel to determine if the linked sources are correct. 

Overall Impression

WikiHow offers informative content with helpful visual cues. The site is simple and easy to navigate. There is also plenty of community engagement, which helps direct the content and offers opportunities for improvement. Like Wikipedia, the community is highly encouraged to contribute and edit the content. Although the site does not rely solely on primary sources to validate information, its expert panel is comprised of credentialed experts. 

I’ve always thought WikiHow was a great site to learn how to do anything. WikiHow even offers a “Pro” paid membership with courses and video content. Overall, I like WikiHow and find that the information offered is correct. Like many sites, there is always room for improvement.

Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer, photographer, and author who has been writing in the home and garden industry for 10 years.
Powder Springs, GA