Tag Archives: support

SUMO in 2013 – Summary

This is the final part of the SUMO in 2013 blog post series — let’s wrap up:

If you read all previous posts, you probably noticed a few overarching themes throughout the series: Mobilization, Advocacy, and Scale.


With mobilization, I mean it in a non-traditional sense of the word: the web is becoming increasingly mobile, and this shift changes our efforts to support our users. We need to become mobile — we need to mobilize!

I’m extremely excited about our plans to create a mobile support experience that no one has built before. Mozilla Support is already insanely cool to use from your mobile phone, but just imagine how awesome it will be once we hook it into your phone’s notification system and utilize some of the new web APIs we’ve worked on as part of making the web itself the app platform for Firefox OS (and, long-term, for apps across all major mobile platforms). With the direction the web itself is taking through efforts like Firefox OS, the opportunities to create awesome experiences are only limited by your imagination.

The closest comparison to what is happening with the web today that I can think of is the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1979, which revolutionized the way people listened to music. SUMO is heading in the same direction and this will bring lots of new opportunities to help fellow Firefox users no matter where you are — and the karma this will give you will feel more rewarding than listening to your favorite mixtape!


Over the years, we’ve gotten better and better at distilling user feedback from our support channels and reporting it to engineering and QA so they can prioritize their work on fixing the most annoying bugs our users complain about. Cheng played a huge role in kickstarting our efforts already back in 2008, and today we have a dedicated team responsible for this work. In 2013, we’ll institutionalize User Advocacy and partner even more closely with Product Management, UX, Engineering and QA to deliver on Mozilla’s brand promise: Firefox answers to no one but you.

We’ve already built in hooks to Input in Firefox OS so we can ensure high quality user sentiment and feedback reporting for the first handsets once we launch. Of course, our user advocacy efforts will go beyond our internal feedback tools — we’ll also be monitoring press, blogs, forums and social media throughout the product launch to make sure we aren’t missing anything. Our goal here is the same with Firefox OS as it’s been for desktop and Android Firefox: to proactively support our users by making our products better.


This is the glue that will tie it all together — at the end of 2013, our hope is that we’ll be able to look back at a year with significant community growth and where contributions went from just something you could do in front of your computer to something you could do anywhere you are as long as you have your phone with you.

SUMO staff, summer 2012.

We have awesome people in the SUMO community already — people like Alice, feer56, Scoobi, cor-el, Satdav, madperson, iamjayakumars, jscher2000, Tobbi, underpass, Swarnawa, smo, Nukeador, michro, and many many more (this is really just a sample of our incredibly passionate community!). At the end of 2013, I hope that these people will have taken even more ownership in their various areas of our support efforts — and I hope I’ll be able to list even crazier and impossible to pronounce forum nicknames for new people who joined our community this year!

As part of our quest to grow our community, we need to challenge our assumptions and traditions and be open to completely new processes and community governance models to scale our work to Mozilla’s growing product line. I’m envisioning a community where hundreds of people around the world help with everything from writing support articles that are read by tens of thousands of users, to helping users directly where our users are — the forum, social media, and in person. While I’m incredibly proud of the community we’ve been able to build so far around SUMO, I know we can do more.

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 15.46.20

SUMO superhero and his butler — awesome artwork by Sean Martell.

Thanks for reading thus far. If you haven’t already, please join our community and help us shape the future of the mobile web, get more involved with Mozilla, and help our users! It’s dead simple, fun, and can take as little as a few minutes to make an impact to thousands of people around the world.

Congrats, you made it to the end of the blog series about our Mozilla Support goals in 2013!

SUMO in 2013: Firefox OS

You’re reading the second part of the SUMO in 2013 blog series, and this time the focus is Firefox OS!

  • Part 1: Delight our users
  • Part 2: Firefox OS — you’re reading this one right now!
  • Part 3: Firefox Desktop
  • Part 4: Firefox Android
  • Part 5: Summary

So what exactly is Firefox OS? From mozilla.org:

Firefox OS will produce an implementation of new Web standards to free mobile platforms from the encumbrances of the rules and restrictions of existing proprietary platforms.

We’re collaborating with OEMs and carriers directly, giving them more influence to meet the specific needs of their users and market. Users and developers aren’t locked in to one platform, so they can access their info and use apps across multiple devices.

Developers will no longer need to learn and develop against platform-specific native APIs. [...] Consumers who use devices powered by Firefox OS won’t be locked into one specific platform giving them more choice, flexibility and freedom. With Firefox OS, the Web is the platform.

Create best-in-class mobile support experience for Firefox OS v1 launch

firefox-phone2013 is going to be an incredible year for Mozilla since it will be the year when Firefox OS and the open mobile web get into the hands of users around the world. At SUMO, we’re working hard to prepare for this and to ensure we’re ready to support users if they run into any problems.

However, some things will be a little different for us compared to how we’re supporting Firefox users. These Firefox OS phones will be sold in brick and mortar stores, and the user will have actually paid with real money for it. This raises the bar of the kind of support they expect for their device, and we need to be prepared for that.

Partner with carriers & OEMs

Luckily, we’re not the only ones who care deeply about Firefox OS users — since the phones will be sold in stores, we will rely on our partners for the first line of defense in supporting Firefox OS. This is a great start, but we still need to make sure that those who do come to our site get the best possible answers to their questions.

We also want to make sure that our partners have the best possible support material for our product so they can delight their customers just as much as we will. This means we’ll be working on delivering high-quality support documentation and training material as part of writing our knowledge base articles for users. In fact, we’ve already started and would love to see you join the efforts! Contributing to SUMO is a great way to influence the future of Firefox OS and to be a part of this brand new mobile phone experience.

Build localized support forums and communities and supply them with needed tools

Our support forum platform view from a mobile device.

For local communities who don’t already have a support forum and are ready to support Firefox OS users, we will be building the foundations to support localized forums on support.mozilla.org itself. This is actually something we’ve wanted to offer for a long time, so it’s very exciting that it will finally become a reality for the local communities who need it! Note that this foundation will also work for all of our other products like Firefox, but we’re building this primarily to support the Firefox OS v1 launch.

Another thing we did last year in preparation for the Firefox OS launch was to redesign the forum interface to look awesome on small screens. You can check this out today by navigating to support.mozilla.org/questions from your mobile phone.

Ensure excellent first impression by answering all user questions during our initial launch

You only have one chance to give a first impression, and we want ours to be an excellent one. We’ll be making sure that everyone gets an answer to their questions on SUMO, regardless of whether they found our site directly when searching online, or if they were sent our way by our partners.

We’re collaborating with our local communities such as Mozilla Hispano to ensure that we’re all ready for this big launch. Mozilla Hispano have done an amazing job already with preparing their community and website, and they’re just as excited about the launch as we are.

Expand our support offerings to include third-party Apps developers

UI Tests for Firefox OS (by tuuux)

The beauty of Firefox OS is that the platform used to run native apps on it is the web itself, completely unencumbered. This is huge for developers, because it means all they need to know in order to write apps for Firefox OS are the same skills they use to write websites: html5, javascript, and a bit of css. In fact, many developers already write mobile apps using these technologies on other proprietary mobile OS platforms like Android and iOS to make their apps work cross-platform. So the learning curve for developers to include support for Firefox OS will essentially be zero, because with Firefox OS, the web is the platform.

That doesn’t mean that no developer will ever need support, so we will be joining forces with the Developer Engagement team and implement a solution for those needs. This includes both administrative and purely development-related support.

That was an overview of what we’re working on this year around Firefox OS support. It’s all very exciting! In the next part of the series, I’ll present our goals for Firefox on the desktop. Stay tuned for more…

SUMO in 2013: Delight our users

In case you’re still hiding in that safety bunker and missed all the fireworks, it’s actually 2013 now and we all survived (well, most of us; that you’re reading this is a good sign that you’re likely still around). This is big news for Mozilla, because 2013 is the year of Firefox OS on the mobile! It’s also big news for SUMO, because we’re going to provide kick-ass support for this phone OS in ways the world has never seen before — while continuing to excel with Firefox desktop and Android, as well as exploring new opportunities with Apps & Marketplace.

This post marks the beginning of a mini-series outlining and explaining our SUMO high-level goals in 2013. I’ll start at the highest level and then I’ll drill down into the specifics for each product we’re supporting (or will begin to support this year) on support.mozilla.org.

  • Part 1: Delight our users — you’re reading this one right now!
  • Part 2: Firefox OS
  • Part 3: Firefox Desktop
  • Part 4: Firefox Android
  • Part 5: Summary

To kick this off, let’s start with our overarching mission this year:

Delight our users.

Delighting users means going above and beyond and delivering product support that is better than they expected. It means making sure everyone visiting our support will get an answer to their question. But it also means that they take something with them from the experience of getting helped that they didn’t expect — something that delights them. For example, learning about a neat trick with the product that enhances their experience with the product, or just being pleasantly surprised with the speed and accuracy of the answer, or maybe that our support community was the best and most friendly community they’ve ever experienced.

Michael and Michelle helping a Firefox user.

Let’s look at our 2013 goals that apply to all of our known products: Firefox desktop, Firefox for Android, Firefox OS, and Apps & Marketplace.

Implement a cross-team proactive user education strategy

This will be a big part of our “delight our users” promise, because we’ll use this proactive type of support before the user even thought they needed help about something. You can do this in many different ways, for example when you’re on the support site and you’re trying to solve a problem, we can take the opportunity to teach about something else too. Or when you’re launching Firefox for the first time, we could feature an interactive walk-through of the components of the UI. Or if you like our Mozilla Firefox page on Facebook, we could seed it with useful tips to make the most out of your product experience.

Because of the many ways of educating users, this goal will be a coordinated approach lead by SUMO but involving aspects of marketing, engagement, support, and the product itself (UX, etc). The sky is the limit on this one, and that’s what’s making it so exciting! Michael shares some more thoughts on user education on his blog.

Ensure that users with problems know that SUMO exists

What good is our support if people don’t know how to find us, let alone that we exist? A survey that we conducted some time ago revealed that we still need to do more to ensure maximum visibility of our support offerings for those who need it. Our goal is that anyone that has a problem with our products should know where to go to get help.

Drive quality improvements to our products through powerful user advocacy

Part of what makes SUMO great is that we listen carefully to what our users are saying to us in our various channels. This leads to better support, since we continuously fine-tune our content to match user demand — but it also leads to better products, since we share our findings with the rest of the organization. We call this User Advocacy, and in 2013 we’ll ramp this up significantly to ensure that our products are meeting our users’ expectations since that will also reduce the need for support — a win-win-win situation (users, SUMO, Mozilla).

To learn more about how the SUMO group is organized, including the formation of the User Advocacy team, read the SUMO Staff Organization Changes blog post from last month.

Establish Firefox User Sentiment Report as a primary release-to-release product quality measurement for Desktop, Android, and Firefox OS

In December we piloted the first Firefox User Sentiment Report (or FUSR for short) for desktop Firefox, which is a real-time snapshot of our user’s joy and pain as reported from our user feedback channels. We got great feedback about it already, including of course rooms for improvements. Ultimately the goal of this report is to make Firefox better by ensuring that our distilled user feedback is accessible, understandable, and above all actionable. Our vision is that teams like Engineering, Product, and UX — the awesome people that make our products — will be able to look at our reports and quickly determine if there are any major issues to address across our release channels.

The December installment of the report was just the beginning — as we gain experience in creating these reports, we hope to include forecasting based on previous releases to ultimately give us the ability to predict the quality of a new version of Firefox before it leaves the Beta phase. And as we fine-tune the accuracy and visualization, we’ll make sure reports deliver on our promise of being actionable.


Push Recoverability features and user-demanded fixes into product roadmaps

In 2013, we’ll continue what we started last year with highlighting user-demanded fixes and getting them into our product roadmaps. We’ll also expand these efforts to all of our products, including of course Firefox OS, where the need for high quality user advocacy will be huge.

Make SUMO the primary entry-level community for Mozillians

This is an area where we have a lot going for us already, but we can do even better, and in 2013 we will. By the end of this year, we will have made significant strides in this area, and we will have grown our community as a result!

The first contribution on SUMO should be a success, and it should be a fun and straightforward experience. There are lots of ways we can make this possible: better online tools on support.mozilla.org, better documentation, mentors and experts in our community who can help, etc.

And once you’ve joined our community, we want you to get more and more involved and engaged in our mission to delight our users. In many ways, being part of the SUMO community is a way to get closer to the products and the teams working on improving them. We love this part of SUMO and view it as a place to grow. This means that some will move on to contributing in other projects after a while, like QA, WebQA and web development — and that’s a great thing! Others (like myself) continue to contribute directly to SUMO, which is awesome.

That was a summary of the high-level SUMO goals in 2013 that apply to all of our products. In the next part, I’ll walk you through the goals we’ve outlined specifically for Firefox OS.

SUMO in Berlin

While we serve millions of Firefox users every week with our support website, it’s sometimes a good change to speak with users face to face about their Firefox questions and our community. I have the chance this week, so this post is being written from the LinuxTag in Berlin. The LinuxTag is one of Europe’s biggest OpenSource events and brings together users and contributors of OpenSource software.

We already had some very interesting questions about Mozilla, how it is different from the competition, Firefox 4 and Firefox Sync in particular.

If you are in Berlin today, please come by and speak with us directly in Hall 7. We can offer you Firefox buttons and Mozilla contributors interested in listening to you. :)

Image: Thanks to Brian King for his awesome photo skills!

Help one user per day in the Firefox support forum!

If everyone reading Planet Mozilla helped just one person in the Firefox support forum per day, there wouldn’t be a single user with their question left unanswered. And answering one question generally takes less than two minutes!

It’s actually very simple to help people, too. But just to be on the safe side, we’ve prepared some instructions for how to get you started.

How to make one Firefox user happy per day:

  1. Set aside two minutes of your time. Some tips for how to do that:
    • Stay away from pointless activities like Farmville or Mafia Wars (and avoid Facebook in general).
    • Skip reading that “fun” e-mail one of your colleagues just sent.
    • Don’t click this link. It’s not worth it, and no, you can’t even interact with the cat.
  2. If you haven’t already, get a SUMO account by filling out the form on the registration page.
  3. Scan the list of unanswered forum threads (btw, that’s a great page to bookmark) for a question you think you know the answer to. Click it and respond. That’s it!

Don’t even have two minutes to spare? Try looking for a question that has an obvious answer, like AOL hijacked my start page, posted earlier today (the solution is already documented).

Need help answering a question? No problem. We have a page of tips and resources that may be useful, or you can ask in the Contributors forum. Feel like taking a break? That’s cool, too. Go introduce yourself in the Off-Topic forum and hang out with your fellow Firefox contributors.

By the way, we’re currently working on a brand new forum system that will be faster, sexier and easier to use. Stay tuned for more details…

Introducing the fabulous SUMO Content Manager

After months of hunting, we’re very excited to announce that we’ve found our new Support Content Manager. Starting this week, Michael Verdi joins the SUMO team full time and will primarily focus on improving our support documentation to make it easier to understand, more consistent, and more engaging.

As co-author of the book Secrets of Videoblogging and the creator of the Freevlog tutorials, Michael has a lot of experience with writing software documentation that is easy to understand for “normal people” (with that, I mean people who, unlike me, don’t spend 12+ hours per day in front of a computer). He also has a passion for videos and screencasts, which will be very useful in our efforts to make our help documentation engaging and friendly for the millions of Firefox users out there. His unique skillset will be critical in establishing writing style guidelines and best practices together with our amazing volunteer community of support content writers on SUMO.

Michael Verdi

Michael Verdi, former nuclear submarine mechanical operator.

Aside from writing books, running video blogs, training for a triathlon, and doing robot talk shows — you know, the normal stuff — Michael has also been working as a mechanical operator on a nuclear submarine, been a member of a theater company for nearly 20 years, taught graphic design in a high school, and run a media program for teens. We haven’t yet figured out how we can best use all of his work experience, but there’s certainly no shortage of “been there! done that!” here. Michael also tells me that he’s been married for almost 19 years and that they have two daughters, Dylan, 16 and Lauren, 13. And yes, this is apparently all possible in just one lifetime.

If you want to get in touch with Michael, go visit one of his blogs, or send him a message: he is michaelverdi on irc.mozilla.org (#sumo) and michaelverdi on Twitter. Also, check out his own blog post about his new job: I’m joining the support team at Mozilla.

Welcome to the team, Michael!

Welcome to the SUMO team, Kadir!

We’re very excited to announce that Kadir Topal of German Mozilla community fame is joining the SUMO team today full time as our Support Community Manager. His primary responsibility will be to energize, strengthen, and grow Mozilla’s support community so we can reach out to even more users in need of help on the web.

For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Kadir, he has been around in the community since 2002, when he started the German localization of Phoenix just a few weeks after milestone 0.1 was released. Since then, he has lead and helped grow the German Firefox community, organized community events, as well as managed the German community website, support forums, and wiki.

Kadir has been studying political science and computational linguistics and is just about to finish his master thesis in applied linguistics. The subject couldn’t be more relevant to his new job on SUMO: Informal Communication in Virtual Teams. For more interesting facts about Kadir, read his own 7 Things about Me.

If you want to get in touch with Kadir (or just say hi!), he is topal on irc.mozilla.org and atopal on Twitter.

Welcome, Kadir!

Update: Kadir just wrote about this on his own blog:

Behold: the SUMO 2010 roadmap!

Back in October, we started the effort to solicit feedback and ideas from various people, including of course our wonderful SUMO community. I wrote about the three primary objectives for the SUMO project as a whole:

  1. To help people have a great Firefox (and by extension web) experience
  2. To provide key user and product insights to the Mozilla community
  3. To strengthen and grow Mozilla’s community

However, one thing that I didn’t mention specifically was our efforts in 2009 to make SUMO an open source support platform that can be used for other projects. A real example of that is the new Firefox Help for Mobile website, but other sites could follow in the future. Also related to this is our effort to improve the underlying SUMO platform to be easier to develop for, more performant, and more secure. These things all ultimately benefit our users and community and are important to focus our efforts on.

As a result, there are actually four primary focus areas for SUMO in 2010:

  • Improve the user experience
  • Get better insights about our users
  • Improve the contributor experience
  • Make the platform awesome


Based around these focus areas, we have prioritized developed a shiny roadmap for SUMO in 2010. It is primarily available in a fairly uninspiring spreadsheet, but as an alternative, it is also available in a more fancy slideshow format:

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped shaping the future of SUMO. 2010 will be a fantastic year for Mozilla!

Presenting the new Firefox Support start page

After being slightly distracted with other priorities, we were finally able to launch the new and optimized start page for Firefox Support that we designed and tested in June!

Old Firefox Support Start page

The old Firefox Support Start page

The old start page had a number of problems:

  • The bounce rate was relatively high, especially on the in-product start page (although we’ve learned since the start page redesign effort that a big reason for that is the F1 keyboard shortcut that people press by accident)
  • The search box didn’t provide example searches to encourage people to use it
  • The design wasn’t emphasizing on the fact that we are here to help and that we do provide a way to get personal support if the search doesn’t return any useful results.

For a complete list of what changed in the new start page, see the image on Flickr with notes explaining all the differences.

The new and optimized start page

The new and optimized start page

The preliminary site statistics indicate that the impact of the new start page is even bigger than we anticipated based on the A/B test. So far, the start page shows a 3% decrease of bounce rate, which is pretty fantastic.

This translates to an improved user experience for over 400,000 Firefox users (annually)!

We’ve started to work with localizers on how to update the non-English start pages too. There are instructions available for how to do this and some locale leaders have already updated their start pages:

Thanks to everyone who helped with the process of getting this new start page created and implemented!

Improved SUMO start page coming soon

In the last 10 days, we’ve been running our second A/B test on SUMO to try a slight redesign of the in-product start page (the page you get to if you select Help from the menu of Firefox itself). This test is part of a bigger goal to reduce the number of people that leave the Firefox Support website immediately after visiting the start page — the so-called “bounce rate” of the page.

There can be many different reasons why people leave a website without interacting with it. When it comes to a support website, one of those reasons can be that the website isn’t helpful enough, or doesn’t provide sufficient instructions on how it should be used. This is something we are trying to minimize on SUMO so the support platform becomes as easy to understand as possible.

In order to improve the current start page, our first step was to figure out how people are using it today and identify areas where we could improve it. chofmann dug up a lot of the initial research about common web design mistakes which our start page was suffering from, and proposed some ideas on how we could use those insights when redesigning the page. chofmann and I then sat down and brainstormed about how we could improve the page, after which I created a simple mockup of our ideas.

Before we could actually test our ideas, we needed to turn the mockup into a polished web page that we would feel comfortable showing to our users, so we turned to Mozilla’s master of design and creativity, John Slater, who connected us with web designer Naz Hamid. The result of our collaboration can be seen below:

New SUMO start page

The new start page. Click on the image to see a version of it with notes explaining the differences between the current start page.

The test turned out to be successful. With the new start page:

  • More people used the search box (+1.3%), which is the best way to use SUMO to find the solution to your problem.
  • Fewer people left the site immediately without interacting with it (-0.5%), which means that more people are able to get their problem solved.

For the full report and many interesting insights about how people interact with this new page versus the current page, read the original blog post based on the full analysis of the A/B test by Ken Kovash and Mozilla intern Eric Hergenrader: Improving a User’s Experience with Firefox Support (part II).

Our effort to improve the support experience for our users will of course not end with this test. It’s an ongoing process and a continued focus of the SUMO team to make our support platform as easy to understand and use for as many users as possible.

When looking at the results of our test, it should be noted that the bounce rate is still very high (86%). As I mentioned earlier, there could be many other reasons why people quickly leave the website. One reason, that I suspect plays an important role here, is the fact that you can reach Firefox Support simply by pressing F1 on your keyboard. My theory is that many people accidentally do this when typing on a web page, leading to many unwanted visits to Firefox Support.

F1 key

The most common SUMO bookmark?

That is one of our next things to test on SUMO: among the people that visit Firefox Support by pressing F1 on the keyboard, how many people close the website right away? Are the people that visit the site by selecting the Help option in the menu more interactive?

We will have the answers to these questions soon.