Categories: end users themes

Renaming Personas

Firefox users love Personas. They’re a fun and easy way to customize Firefox and make it your own. But in talking with new users, we’ve learned that they are often confused by the name and don’t quite get that Personas are just another way to theme your browser. And more often than not, when a Firefox user describes the look of their browser, they use words like “wallpapers” or “backgrounds” instead of the proper name Personas.

We’ve heard questions from many users over the years as to why we kept the Personas name, and even ran tests that showed users are more likely to try out Personas when called by a different name. “Persona” is a good name, but is probably better suited for a different product in the future.

So, we’d like to rename Personas to something more understandable and localizable. And we’d love your help.

We’ve come up with several options for a new name and want to know what you think. Please take a look at the poll below and submit your vote by Wednesday, February 8. Your choice will play a big role in which name we choose, as well as other factors including the word’s meaning in other cultures and languages.

We expect this transition to take place over the coming weeks. Thanks for your help, and please let us know if you have any questions or comments.


42 comments on “Renaming Personas”

  1. Jivko wrote on

    Whatever you do don’t call this Personas crap a theme.

    1. bomblong wrote on

      It’s great when the first comment is constructive and offers a solution to the question.

      1. Michal wrote on

        It’s great when the second comment is constructive and offers a solution to the question.

        1. bomblong wrote on


    2. dis wrote on

      Nope, “Themes” is the way to go.

      They’ve already killed the themes and users understand “theme” already so it’s a no-brainer.

      1. FC wrote on

        No way. Themes are still being used. I think the whole browser should be themed if you use a theme, including all the dialog boxes. Personas are only changing the toolbar area. It would be a mistake to cause confusion between the two.

    3. gry wrote on

      NOT themes. Survey is now closed. 🙁

  2. Mark Erikson wrote on

    Definitely “skins”. Firefox already has something different called “themes”, and “skin” is a widely used and understood term for other applications.

    1. Christopher Bull wrote on

      Agreed. I associate “theme” with the reconstruction or reorganisation of components in the UI. Personas on the other hand essentially add a “skin” to the current construction.

  3. Stan wrote on

    How about calling them Garbage, Beards or Lame Cheap Looking Rubbish?
    Bloody useless things don’t even fit Firefox with a Navbar only setup.
    Why anyone would use a half assed skin when beautiful Themes are available is beyond me.

  4. Jon wrote on

    Skins is good … or if you want something original how about ‘cloaks’ …

  5. Lucy wrote on

    I voted for skins, but I’d be open to others. I think people are familiar with cases for their phones and laptops. I think these are also commonly called skins, but if there is another common word for that I would also vote for that one!

  6. Caspy7 wrote on

    Themes is already taken.
    In my mind skins is equivalent to themes and I think historically they’ve been used interchangeably. (Didn’t we use to call themes skins in Firefox/Mozilla Suite? If not I know I’ve heard people refer to them as skins.)
    That puts it between backgrounds and wallpapers in my mind (at least in terms of the suggested considerations).
    I like backgrounds because it seems intuitive. Personas essentially change what is “behind” the UI – to the user it’s what is in the background of Firefox.
    Also I expect the backgrounds paradigm would be more transferable from a localization standpoint.
    Wallpapers take me back to ’95. Did Microsoft retire the term for desktop backgrounds after 95 or 98? (98 I’m guessing)
    I feel like backgrounds are a more familiar paradigm nowadays as we are more likely to talk about the background of a web page/blog/etc (rather than it’s wallpaper).

    Those are my thoughts.

  7. Noise wrote on

    Decals would be my suggestion. It certainly isn’t a theme and decals would appeal to both the ollder users and the young turks. My first car, a volkwagon Fast Back (i loved it) , had an STP decal on it. A kid of a friend of mine purchsased a used car (not one you would wish on anyone but he loves it) and I discoveed that your can still get a retro STP decal for your car.

    It could inspire both help with problems and good story telling.

    1. Scott Johnson wrote on

      @Noise, @Jon: I agree that ‘decals’ is a good name. I liked the idea that Jon suggested, that of ‘cloaks’, but this seems to depict a kind of privacy thing that isn’t involved. So maybe ‘jackets’?

      At any rate, I think we should stay away from boring things like walllpaper and background. Background is confusing as it might be confused with some non-tech type users as the background of the web page. Wallpaper is ok, but unoriginal. Maybe if we wanted to go with that style, call it ‘paneling’ or something?

    2. Axel wrote on

      +1 from me! Decals is very good.

      I have been developing extensions for 3 years now and have been reviewing Extensions and Themes for Mozilla, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of work that goes into theme development. Some themes also support using Decals (was:personas). I like the fact that is a new fresh term, even if somewhat abstract to non-English speaking users. I think it is good to introduce a new term into the market place from time to time.

      Alternatively, one could also call them tattoos, which adds a slightly exotic flavor.

  8. Alfred Kayser wrote on

    Background, which they really are. They only replace the background with a nice image, which can be nice. It would be even more mice if we can combine Background with Theme (as it used to do initially, but then some one decides to block out themes when a Persona/Background has been selected, which is completely opposed to the ‘Open Web’ principle that Mozilla says to promote, so why block out Themes???). (as hinted by the first comment, Personas are hated for this blocking of other themes…)

    1. Benedikt P. [:Mic] wrote on

      You’re right! “Background” sounds like the term that best describes what they do (i.e. style the .. background;)

    2. Zigboom wrote on

      Alfred, you say it all, I agree with every word. It is a background and that’s it. Calling it skins is a lie, it just isn’t a skin (it’s a skin wannabe at most). How can people even think to call it a skin is beyond my understanding as a long time skinner. Skin reflects to something we all have over our bodies and it covers it quite completely. Now Imagine that your skin will cover only a very small part of your body … it won’t be pretty, that’s sure …

    3. Ken Barbalace wrote on

      Alfred is correct that “backgrounds” is the most appropriate because Personas are only really background images for the browser window. “Skins” is inappropriate because this infers that the whole UI is modified, which is not the case.

      It is wholly inappropriate for “themes” to even be on the list because there is already something called themes that has been a part of Firefox from the beginning and has a very active developer community. Personas are NOT themes in any remote way. Themes customize almost every aspect of the Firefox UI, they don’t just add background images to the browser window.

      I also agree with Alfred that Personas should be able to be applied to custom themes as users used to be able to and was promised for this past year. This issue is covered by bug 520124 (, which seems to have fallen by the wayside.

  9. marek wrote on

    Skins. Although as themes are still not skinnable, they are of a limited use. Regardless of scores of users wanting personas + themes integration without going through hacking user.js and three restarts every time…

  10. ÍByte wrote on

    ‘Skins’ sounds like a good idea, as it is already a well known term and is a decent description of what they do.

    The term ‘Themes’ is already taken. I saw the FEBE extension use the term ‘lightweight themes’ for Personas, which is also a pretty good description, but might be a bit long.

  11. Mingyi Liu wrote on

    I suggested Fashion or Vogue or Looks. Skins is the easiest understandable word, but too common.

  12. Ken Saunders wrote on

    Backgrounds please.
    Browser Backgrounds.

    Traditionally, OS, application, blog, and site themes more often than not change the majority of GUI/UI (whatever) elements. Think about it, or just research it.
    If Personas were allowed to be classified as themes, then the same could be done for desktop wallpapers.
    Skins are close to themes, but not as thorough in my opinion. Some people consider them to be the same.

    I’d imagine that backgrounds would be easy to localize.

    1. Anderson wrote on

      Browser BackGrounds is Perfect!!

  13. Dave wrote on

    Think “Originality”,something different. Can’t use “Clouds”,but an idea around that. Like”Kites,Swarms, Floats, Skies,etc,etc,! Stay with an easy one-syllable word. Catchy little titles.

  14. Laurian Gridinoc wrote on

    Covers? everyone personalise their devices with covers…
    Background alternatives could be backdrop or why not wallpaper?

    I would think of what can be visualised as a real thing applied on a real device: covers, wallpaper, foil, wrapping, clothes, make-up or tools to apply it like airbrush, etc.

  15. Asa Dotzler wrote on

    Skins are slang for condoms. Let’s not do that.

    1. Caspy7 wrote on

      We’ve already got the Vibrator API. I say let’s just drop the pretense and go for it.

  16. Joe wrote on

    What do you guys think about “mini-skin”

  17. Ashutosh Singh wrote on

    what about ‘Avatar’ same Soul (browser) different look.
    or ‘Fur’ or translation of it like french – ‘fourrure’ or in Latin ‘Pilum’ or ‘Reno’

  18. Axel wrote on


    As the “skin” is actually just painted over. the more I think about it I like this over things like backgrounds or decals.

    One could of course also call it BLING, or DECORATION! :p

    Another one would be FACES.

  19. Call me Mike wrote on

    Because it gets millions of dollars from Google the Mozilla multinational decided it can make people call peanut butter strawberry jam overnight. Oh.. wait we have to make up the strawberry jam part ourselves too…

    So Google pays, Firefox gets sabotaged and Chrome becomes king? Paranoia isn’t a US privilege :-).

  20. Sum Yung Gai wrote on

    I vote for “themes”. Everyone knows what a browser “theme” is, and it’s also used in desktop customization (“desktop themes”). Not sure why “Personas” wasn’t just called that in the first place.

    1. James wrote on

      Sum Yung Gai, Well because the word “Themes” has already been in use for several years now for theming what we know as Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey (Mozilla suite 1.x). The Personas is more of a background image versus being a actual theme.

      It would be far too confusing to call Personas as Themes also when thy are two very different things as what would one call the actual Themes as in order to differentiate the two?

      trying to reply again…

    2. Ngamer01 wrote on

      Because there’s a difference between themeing toolbars and themeing the entire Firefox browser? Though if I had thought of it back when I voted, I would have suggested and voted for decals. But too late to change my vote now on the survey. <.<;;

  21. James wrote on

    Sum Yung Gai, well simply because there was a little something that existed for as much as over a decade already as “Themes” for what we know as Firefox, Thunderbird and SeaMonkey (Mozilla suite 1.x). These Themes are actual Themes while Personas is not even really a theme but more of a background at best.

  22. rack wrote on

    ‘Shape’ or ‘Shapes’ ?

  23. Alex wrote on

    I agree with ‘decals’, seeing as how anyone who is willing to make quick and simple customizations to their ‘wares usually resort to decals… I think it’s perfectly fitting.

    I noticed I was too late to vote on the new name, however. 🙁

  24. BrianZ wrote on

    I still prefer my original suggestion of “Background Aura”, or just “Aura”, if it has to be changed.
    It’s unfortunate that Personas have now fallen victim to “identity theft”. And the thief is now known as “Browser ID”, a new product being developed, ironically, to control a users online identity ( Or maybe Mr. Browswer ID would like to take on the name “Aura” instead of stealing Personas’ identity?

    It’s even more unfortunate that Mozilla decided to rename Personas to “Themes”, regardless of what the survey said (which seems now to have been more of a ploy intended to make users think they were somehow involved with determining the final outcome). I dislike the term “skins” too, even if “background skins” seems appropriate, though not in a good way (since most personas seem to be made from stolen desktop background artwork or stolen images of females wearing mostly skin).

    Apparently, Mozilla didn’t think users were confused enough when Personas started showing up on the addons menu list under “themes”, a name that was subsequently changed to “appearance” in later versions of Firefox. I wonder if they will change it back now? I also wonder what else they will do to beat up on personas. First they removed most of Personas display space from the default header layout without providing an easy way to get it back for viewing the hundreds of thousands of existing personas, and now they have stolen its identity.

    Does anybody else besides Mozilla feel like they are having an identity crisis? ;o)
    Well, one thing they got right is “No doubt there will be some confusion during this transition”. And I think before and after as well.

  25. JanW wrote on

    Just change personas to toolbar skins. Done.

    Because that’s what they are, nothing more, nothing less. Personas never was a proper name for it and calling them themes is seriously ridiculous.

  26. wrote on

    Fursonas. :p (Hey, it is a fox…)