Localized screencasts perform better – go figure

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

I created this video about bookmarks for Firefox 29. It’s in English and has closed captions for a few languages, including German. But you can see from this audience retention data that German speakers don’t watch the video as much as English speakers.
english

So, with Kadir‘s help, I made a German version (above). You can see that this video performs much better in German speaking locales. Of course this is what we expected but it’s cool to see how plainly it shows up.
german

Note: Rewinding and re-watching can result in values higher than 100%.

Recent work on Bookmarks and Firefox Reset

I’ve been working on a number of things over the last couple of months and I wanted to share two of them. First, bookmarks. Making this bookmarks video for Firefox 29 reminded me of a long-standing issue that’s bothered me. By default, new bookmarks are hidden away in the unsorted bookmarks folder. So without any instruction, they’re pretty hard to find. Now that we have this fun animation that shows you where your new bookmark went, I thought it would be good if you could actually see that bookmark when clicking on the bookmarks menu button. After thinking about a number of approaches we decided to move the list of recent bookmarks from a sub-menu and expose them directly in the main bookmarks menu.

bookmarks

With the design done, this is currently waiting to be implemented.

Another project that I’ve been focusing on is Firefox Reset. The one, big, unimplemented piece of this work that began about three years ago, is making this feature discoverable when people need it. And the main place we like to surface this option is when people try to reinstall the same version of Firefox that they are currently running. We often see people try to do this, expecting that it will fix various problems. The issue is that reinstalling doesn’t fix many things at all. What most people are expecting to happen, actually happens when you reset Firefox. So here we’d like to take two approaches. If the download page knows that you have the same version of Firefox that you are trying to download, it should offer you a reset button instead of the regular download button.

reset-instead-of-download

The other approach is to have Firefox detect if it’s just had the same version installed and offer you the opportunity to reset Firefox.

reset-on-reinstallation

The nice thing about these approaches is that work together. If you determine that something is wrong with Firefox and you want to fix it by reinstalling, you’ll see a reset button on the download page. If you use that, the reset process takes just a few seconds and you can be on your way. If you want to download and install a new copy you can, and you’ll have another opportunity to reset after Firefox has launched and you’ve verified whether the issue has been fixed. This presentation explains in more detail how these processes might work. This work isn’t final and there are a few dependencies to work out but I’m hopeful these pieces can be completed soon.

Videoblogging 10 years later

Yesterday I was on another episode of The Web Ahead. This time, talking about the videoblogging movement that I was involved in starting back in 2004. It was then that my friend Ryanne and I created Freevlog to teach people how to get video on the web (we later turned that into a book). Firefox was a really big thing for us back then and it was the beginning of my love of the Mozilla mission and eventually led to me working at Mozilla.

I LOVE this education piece on the Firefox home page

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

As part of all the work we’ve done letting people know what’s great about the new Firefox, we started running a campaign on the default Firefox start page last week. The first piece was about bookmarks – this week it’s customization. I love this Space Invaders animation and the page it links to. It’s fun, it’s engaging, it gives you enough detail to be truly helpful and it links to the full documentation on the support site.

User Education in everything we do

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

At the Mozilla Summit, Mitchell and Mark talked about education as one of the pillars that underlies our mission. To paraphrase Mark,

“We need to make sure that the whole of the web understands what the web can do for them so they can use it to make their lives better.”

One way we do this is through Webmaker. Right there on webmaker.org it says, we’re dedicated to teaching web literacy. The big Webmaker projects right now (Thimble, X-Ray Goggles, Popcorn) are mainly focused on the “building” literacy. I think the other literacies – exploring and connecting – are also extremely important and possibly relevant to a wider group of people as they include the very basic skills of using a browser (navigation, search, security, privacy, sharing and collaborating).

I also think we have a great opportunity to address exploring and connecting, not only as Webmaker projects, but built right into our products and the experiences that surround them. For example, one of the findings of our North American user type study was that simplified, integrated (in the browser as opposed to the help site), help and support would be a direct thing we could do to help Evergreens and Busy Bees. And, taken together, Evergreens and Busy Bees (plus hybrids that include these types) are our largest group accounting for about 36% of users.

So what would it look like to build user education into everything we do? Well, this new update experience is one example. It might also look like Facebook posts, newsletters, search results, installation dialogs or the product documentation on mozilla.org. This year I’ll begin to work full-time on developing and testing approaches. As a former teacher, the exciting part for me will be what we learn from people. As Mitchell says in the video above,

“Most good teachers will tell you that if you try to teach, you end up learning.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The bonuses of really short videos

One of the nice things about using YouTube for videos on support.mozilla.org is that we get audience retention stats. Here’s what they look like for a minute-long video I made about two years ago.
video-drop-offThis video answers the “How do I set my home page?” question at about 23 seconds in. After that the audience really starts to drop off as the video goes into supplementary topics.

The newer videos I’ve made focus mainly on one thing. This video is only 21 seconds long so it gets right to the point. In this case the average viewer watches the entire thing. Pretty cool!
video-success2

So shorter is better in this case. Tell me something I don’t already know. Well, my point is that a minute long video is generally considered pretty short. Turns out you might want to think about making videos WAY shorter.

And here’s another bonus for super short videos. They’re much easier to localize. I made this 29 second Firefox OS video as an experiment. After creating an English version, I was able to re-shoot it with the interface in Spanish and drop in localized narration (recorded while I re-shot the video) in about an hour. That’s so awesome. I want to do much more of that next year.