Firefox Design Values

Madhava Enros

What are the attributes of Firefoxiness?

This question has been with us on the Firefox UX design team for years, but it really came to the forefront when we started designing Firefox for Android. The goal was not just to create a great mobile browser but to create mobile Firefox. We realized, as we looked for guidance, that the only map we had was the terrain itself — Firefoxiness meant “like desktop Firefox.”

We worked and intuited our way through that design process and found a balance, but it made the need for a crisp articulation of Firefoxiness extremely clear. And it’s coming up more and more; as we design new features for our existing products, take Firefox to new platforms, and create new products, we will want to be sure: is what we’re making a clear expression of what it means to be Firefox? What will make it more Firefoxy? What will we not do because it’s not true to Firefox?

To that end, the Firefox UX designers and researchers convened and did some soul-searching, post-it-ing, and clustering. I took the results and teased out a set of Firefox Design Values.

Here are the short versions of what they mean:

Takes care of you
Firefox champions you – your security, privacy, and the quality of your online life.

You help make it
Firefox is only a perfect fit once it’s in your hands and can make it your own.

Plays well with others
Firefox never locks you into particular services or providers; instead, it gives you choice and independence, along with great suggestions.

Firefox is human, fun, whimsical, and joyful.

There’s a real diversity of use and need across the globe, and Firefox cares about these differences.

Finely Crafted
Firefox is made by people who care about the details.

Balances power and simplicity
Firefox will never overwhelm you with interface, but it will also give you the satisfaction of using the web with mastery.

Makes sense of the web
Firefox focuses on real human goals and activities and gives you the tools you need to accomplish your ends.

High user-performance
Firefox is viscerally responsive; highly tuned and eager to browse.

We have the full descriptions and further detail here, as well as a PDF of them in booklet form.

So far, the values have been very well received — Mozillians across the community have let us know that the set we’ve produced makes sense to them and is helpful in framing discussions. Best of all, they recognize their own beliefs about Firefox in the set we’ve produced. UXers are using the values to explain the whys and hows of the designs we’re pursuing; in fact, the set of interface changes in Australis were shaped and focused by them.

In the end, design values don’t necessarily tell us what to do — that comes from user needs, mission, and market strategy — but they remind us of how we should do it. As we do more, we should make sure that it’s true to Firefox.