Using SUMO to help understand our users

Cheng Wang

Support is one of the top and most discoverable ways that Firefox users can give feedback about their experiences with Firefox. While the primary focus of Firefox Support will always be make sure users have the best possible experience with Firefox (and the web), the SUMO project tracks trends and provides insights about our user base to the greater Mozilla community.

Common user questions

The primary thing we track at SUMO is commonly asked questions and commonly encountered issues. Not only does this help guide the support community, it also helps Firefox developers know what are some of the major pain points for our users. A bug that may not seem like a big deal can actually be a top support issue because it causes confusion or “feels wrong” to our users. Because support works so closely with users in the forum and on live chat, we’re often able to troubleshoot a problem, working with the user to identify the extension, plugin or setting responsible. This can help get traction on bugs where the development or QA teams are unable to reproduce. There will be a followup blog post discussing the feedback that SUMO has provided around common issues during the 3.5 launch.

Improving messaging and websites

Visitors to support are often not the most technically savvy, and in many cases are new to Firefox or the web. Since support volunteers work daily with these users, we often have a good feel for what kinds of messaging works and what can be confusing for these users. Over the past quarter, we’ve been providing feedback to the marketing team at Mozilla working on education efforts. This has helped them figure out which Firefox features to explain or clarify, for example.

A number of Mozilla webpages also link to SUMO. By tracking where these users go on SUMO, we can help figure out what questions people visiting those pages may have and provide feedback about how to improve those pages for better user retention. In particular, we’ve been tracking traffic from the Firefox download page to see if we can help remove roadblocks that new Firefox users may face that may prevent them from getting started successfully with their new browser.

Giving feedback on usage patterns and interface

Whenever there are changes to the Firefox interface, people who are used to a feature working in a certain way or looking like a certain thing get confused and come to support. For example, while most people familiar with computers will use keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste, many visitors to SUMO have trouble with that and will instead use the context menu or the menu bar. Similarly, the Send Link feature is widely used and people often come to SUMO when it doesn’t work as expected rather than just copying and pasting a URL to an email. On the other hand, there are features we don’t hear much about. For example, the Delete option in the Edit menu isn’t much used. SUMO has been able to provide some initial feedback to the developers working on user interface in Firefox 3.7 as they make decisions about how to streamline the future of Firefox.

These are just some of the ways that SUMO can help you learn about the Firefox user base. As we move forward, we’ll be looking for more ways we can use our insights to facilitate a closer working relationship between developers and teams at Mozilla and our users which everyone in the community can benefit from.

More importantly, as a resource for the community, we can help you get answers to any user and usage questions you might have about Firefox. Whether you’re localizing support articles on SUMO, running an independently hosted local support site, or if you work with QA, engineering or anywhere else, we’d love to help you. Just let us know what you need and we’ll do our best to provide answers.