The next big thing for Firefox and how we listen to our Users

tdowner

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Hello there everyone!

As you may know, today is the release of Firefox 28 (if you haven’t already, go download it and check out the awesomeness!), which means that Firefox Beta will be updated to version 29.  This means that beta users will be upgraded to the redesign of Firefox (code-named Australis), giving us a more widely used platform for testing and feedback. If you aren’t already, please download Firefox Beta and use it, give feedback, and enjoy!

 

User Advocacy for Australis

One of the cool things about Firefox is that we release new versions in stages, called “channels”, so that we can better integrate feedback from our users before launching the final version of the product!  We have four channels of deployment that are released in the following order over 6 week intervals: Nightly, Aurora, Beta, Release.

More blog worthy than even the release of Firefox 28, are the results of our recently completed user research from Firefox Aurora 29.  One new feature in Aurora and inspired by our Nightly feedback was a fantastic UI Tour showing the new features and changes in Australis. We were very interested to investigate how this tour was received by users and how useful it actually is.

 

We surveyed thousands of Aurora users over the past six weeks and in the process found out some very interesting things:

Overall, most users are very happy with the new design both with and without the tour. However, the data shows that the tour does a great job helping with the learning curve  of Australis,  as most of the users who took it said it answered all of the the  questions they had with the new design. The Onboarding team has also made some minor changes to the tour to reflect the feedback that we received, and will be interesting to see how this feedback improves in Beta.

 

While we set out to look at the tour in particular, many of the comments we got were about Australis as a whole, here are a few of the representative comments:

  • Welcome change. The new look is great and ahead of any other browser. Nice work.
  • This might be enough to get me to switch back to Firefox after using Chrome as my default browser for years. Excellent first impressions so far!
  • The new UI is awesome, it’s faster and it doesn’t get in the way of what you want. It’s a fresh new and lean look on what a modern browser should be.
  • Firefox looks ****in awesome now. Really.
  • It’s better faster has more abilities and AMONG ALL MORE FUTURISTIC
  • When I saw this version of Firefox I immediately switched back from Chrome to Firefox. Looks awesome!
  • Slimline menu bars are very well received.
  • I know this interface has taken a lot of flak for being different — but in all seriousness, I have switched from using Chrome to using this.

Most users seem to feel that Australis is a very welcome redesign, with common words being sleek, clean and fast. As these are some of the goals of Australis, it is encouraging to hear that the majority of users  found that Australis meets these goals.

 

Of course, as with any interface change, not everyone is happy. With a change this significant, there are some users who didn’t like Australis for a variety of reasons. Here’s some of the negative feedback that we received:

  • Miss a lot of options, ridiculous big buttons/icons.
  • Allow us to at least move the menu to the left side. Or get it where it belongs.
  • I want to have add-on bar at the bottom! I want the old design back!!!
  • I cant put the tabs via about:config back there they belong – BELOW the bookmarks
  • Seriously, the icons are too large, where is the small icons function? I can’t even move the refresh/stop outside the address bar.
  • I really dislike the removal of the addon bar. It was handy having forecastfox sitting right near the clock for a quick glance at the time and weather.
  • Removing a bunch of possible customization (e.g. Add-ons Bar, the back/forward/stop/reload buttons) and ignoring the OS theme (e.g. arrow panels and removal of Small Icons mode) is bad.
  • I would reintroduce the new menu using the Orange Firefox button to maintain the iconic Firefox brand image.
  • I don’t mind a redesign, but I do mind removing features like addon bar.

As seen in these representative comments, some of the biggest things users miss are the Add-ons Bar, the Tabs on Bottom add-on, and small icon mode. There are some add-ons that bring back some of these features for those users who want them. We are also making some in-product tweaks to help make these users happier.

 

The Future

Going into Beta we aren’t going to slow down. We already have a full battery of surveys ready for Beta, and we will use them to make sure that the changes we’ve made in Aurora continue to make the user’s experience better (Just like the Aurora audience was happier than the Nightly audience). As said before, please download Beta, use it, give feedback, and help us make Firefox better for hundreds of millions of users!

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