Earlier this year, Test Pilot ran a Menu Item Usage Study to better understand how users interact with the traditional menu bar as Firefox transitions to a more streamlined, single “application button.” We’ve already shared some analysis from this study: we answered which menu items are the most and least commonly used, explored the distribution of menu interactions, and learned that most users actually use very few commands from the menu bar.
We also examined the sequence of menu bar actions – specifically looking for common sequences in commands. The strongest connection was between the ‘About Firefox’ and ‘Check for Updates’ menu items; after clicking ‘About Firefox,’ 9% of users click ‘Check for Updates’ within 20 seconds.
From this data, we reasonably assume that many users go to “About Firefox” to check whether they should update. Accordingly, three minor changes to these menu items should improve user experience.
- Move ‘Check for Updates’ from the ‘Help’ header to the ‘Firefox’ header directly under ‘About Firefox’ so these related commands are logically grouped together (on Mac OSX).
- Add a ‘Check for Updates’ button directly to the ‘About Firefox’ window.
- If automatic updates are set, initialize a check for updates when ‘About Firefox’ opens, and give the user the option to update directly from the window (if any updates are available).
Luckily, we have some excellent engineers working on Firefox who came to the same conclusions. Margaret Leibovic, one of these awesome engineers, recently blogged about her first month’s work here at Mozilla - this work included implementing the first 2 of these changes. Check out the new ‘About Firefox’ window below:
The relocation of ‘Check for Updates’ and this refreshed window have already landed in Minefield, and will be integrated into Firefox 4 from beta 7. Robert Strong, another Firefox Engineer, is working on a patch to implement the third improvement and initialize a check for update automatically when ‘About Firefox’ opens – look for this addition in the next beta!
Note: Google Chrome already does something similar with its about window. While these data driven recommendations were reached independently, Chrome should be given credit for identifying this connection early-on.