My first instinct is to recall the change from Monobook to Monaco. At the time I was working at GuildWiki which had only recently been acquired by Wikia. After bouncing around trying to see what others have been saying, I have tried to help rationalize this.
- The skin doesn't allow content to use all available screenspace. I'd rather have ads on the side than nothing. And I'd rather have the top ads there than on the side
- Where are links to special pages? Recent changes?
- I can't find links to "What links here" or "History" on a page at all. This is a major issue that greatly reduces usability.
- Finding the talk page is harder than before. Where it is, its not apparent that it is a link to the discussion page for the article.
- Infoboxes now cramp the page and seem out of place with the right side navigation. Many wikis use infoboxes and things now look out of place
- Recent activity takes up a lot of space on every page and puts the user name before the page name. It isn't a complete list and as an experienced user, I find this information almost useless compared to Special:Recentchanges which I have yet to find a link to.
On the bright side
Just some things I think critics of the new look should keep in mind:
- Wikia is a free service for you. They make money from ads. They are not a charity and are entitled to raise money to maintain the wikis, pay their employees and make some profit.
- Monobook is always available. This skin doesn't require extra maintenance because it comes complete with every release of MediaWiki. Users who don't like the new skin can always stick with Monobook.
- The goal is to bring in new users and enhance the communities of the wikis.
- You will get used to new skins. When GuildWiki got Monaco, we freaked out, but I'm at the point where I prefer Monaco to Monobook now.
- Moving some of the navigation to the top is actually much nicer.
- Much easier to find adding a page and photo.
What Wikia should keep in mind:
- Make this process more transparent. It doesn't appear like there is a centralized area for users to post their views. I've been all over the place looking for information.
- Keep Monaco as a personal option. Regardless of whether it is maintained during upgrades, users can still have it as part of their personal preferences. This doesn't effect how new users come to view wikis or what the majority of users see. Its also possible that volunteers would be willing to help keep monaco up to date.
- Make it clear how much customization is available. Custom css and js is important to some wikis and even some individual users
- Make information about this change more available from an earlier date. I feel like I should have known about this a while ago.
- The loss of usibility for more advanced features is a big deal.