A Better Add-on Discovery Experience

People who personalize Firefox like their Firefox better. However, many people don’t know that they can, and for those who know it isn’t particularly easy to do. So a few months ago, we began rethinking our entire add-on discovery experience—from helping people understand the benefits of personalization, to making it easier to install an add-on, to putting the right add-on in front of people at the right time.

The first step we’ve taken towards a better discovery experience is in the redesign of our Add-on Discovery Pane. This is typically the first page users see when they launch the Add-on Manager at about:addons.

Add-on Discovery Pane before Firefox 48

Add-on Discovery Pane before Firefox 48

We updated this page to target people who are just getting started with add-ons, by simplifying add-on installation to just one click and using clean images and text to quickly orient a new user.

Disco Pane One Click Install

It features a tightly curated list of add-ons that provide customizations that are easy for new users to understand.

Add-on Discovery Pane starting with Firefox 48

Add-on Discovery Pane starting with Firefox 48

We started with a small list and collaborated with their developers to ensure the best possible experience for users. For future releases, we will refresh the featured content on a more frequent basis and open up the nomination process for inclusion.

Our community of developers create awesome add-ons, and we want to help users discover them and love their Firefox even more. In the coming months, we are going to continue improving the experience by making recommendations that are as uniquely helpful to users as possible.

In the meantime, this first step toward improving the Firefox personalization experience will land in Firefox 48 on August 1, and is available in Firefox Beta now. So download Firefox Beta, go to about:addons and give it a try! (You can also reach this page by going to the Tools menu and choosing “Add-ons”). We would love to hear your feedback in the forums.

19 responses

  1. Joe Ertaba wrote on :

    Displaying a few selected add-ons doesn’t seem to be a good idea. Note that it is really hard to find “useful” add-ons that fit to all the community. To me the discovery page should be grid like with different sections to offer various add-ons and hence covers more tastes.

    P.S: Having a search box in the discovery page is a must have. I know there is a search box in the Extensions tab, but it is going to be really hard for a new user to catch it.

    1. Scott DeVaney wrote on :

      I really like the grid idea. In fact that very concept has come up in separate discussions about a potential AMO homepage redesign.

      And YES, a more prominent search box would be ideal. I’ll ensure our UX team has this noted. Thanks for the comments!

      1. Charles wrote on :

        The searchbox is and has been always independent of the pane selected on the left; explicitly hiding it in (only) this pane only makes it more inconvenience for people used to it.

        1. Charles wrote on :

          …and the same applies to the gear menu button; seriously, hiding these only for the sake of “clean design” is not good.

          1. Markus Jaritz wrote on :

            You are right that for add-on users, search is relevant, and for more advanced users, even the gear menu is important.
            For these people that know how to use Firefox Add-ons, the extensions and themes sections remain as they where. And if they close about:addons on one of those sections, they will return to that section the next time. Which will search and gear without additional clicks.
            This discovery page however is for people that visit about:addons the first time, people that do not know what add-ons are, or what it means to personalize Firefox. I wonder what they would search for, or what they would use the gear menu for?

  2. Raymond Hill wrote on :

    > Our community of developers create awesome add-ons, and we want to help users discover them

    I fail to see how an (extremely) “tightly curated list of add-ons” is helping people to *discover* add-ons. This new “feature” contradicts completely its stated purpose. No thanks for making the alternative solutions to your hand-picked ones *less* discover-able.

    I will speak for myself as a developer of add-ons on AMO: this new “Add-on Discovery Pane” is making my add-on *less* discover-able (to the benefit of the hand-picked one in the same category), as opposed to when showing the default “Add-ons” page. I am sure the hand-picked ones (aka “tightly curated”) are very happy about this — all the others in the same category however have become *less* discover-able.

    This new “feature” is dubious at best. If the goal was really to assist a new user to *discover* add-ons, you would have offered a choice of categories, and expressing an interest in a specific category would have offered a *choice* of solutions.

    1. Scott DeVaney wrote on :

      This is valid feedback. But I’ll try to shed more light on how this initial phase of the design came to be… this new discovery page is primarily designed to entice users who have never installed an add-on before, so we wanted to offer a very streamlined browsing experience that doesn’t overwhelm with a sea of choices, but rather focuses on just a few key use cases, and one add-on per.

      That said, we absolutely intend to iterate on this page, enhance it, and in fact add more content to it. I appreciate you sharing your candid thoughts on the page and we’ll definitely bring them to the table as we work on its subsequent updates.

  3. Ragnar wrote on :

    I absolutely join Raymond. You are featuring already have millions of users add-ons which are mostly company add-ons and disposing the all other sections like “Up & Coming”.

    I especially recommend “Up & Coming” section because individual developers do not have marketing money to promote their add-ons. It is a good and small section that would allow Firefox users to install fresh ideas and while giving chance poor developers to access thousands of Firefox users. Users and developers both benefit this section mutually. By removing “Up & Coming” section and only promoting hand picked company add-ons, you are literally killing ecosystem and making big fish more bigger while keeping small fish to diminish and haunted.

    About:addons page is the place most Firefox users install new add-ons. Nobody cares to type “addons.mozilla.org” in address bar and check Addons Mozilla web page to install new add-ons. It is sure that when people see the new design, they will complain because current one contains only 5 add-ons.

    I mean design looks good. But only 5 add-ons will make new users to think that Mozilla does not have any good add-ons to promote or something is wrong with the page. Look at the Chrome Web Store. There are almost 150 add-ons promoted on main page.

    If you want to entice users who never installed add-ons, you should run a campaign for them. Offer a notification box or toolbar panel when Firefox first starts up and lead them to your small pretty page on Mozilla servers as a “landing web page” with call to action buttons.

    But please for the sake of God, do not replace this design with the older one.As you said it is for newbies, and you know Firefox users are power users. They will very complain. This 5 add-ons design is not ready to be replaced with the old one.

    Old one is functioning pretty good, you can improve the styling, it is OK, some fancy is good, but keep the integrity of the page.

    1. Ricky Smith wrote on :

      This is actually a valid point. “Up & Coming” to the best of my knowledge is one and the only place for new developers to show off their fresh ideas. To keep new developers interested in Firefox, we need to make sure their work are presented somehow.

      1. Markus Jaritz wrote on :

        Indeed, making sure that not only popular becomes more popular, but also new add-ons get a chance is important. I fully agree. And so is to make sure that quality gets promoted.

  4. Noitidart wrote on :

    I think this is cool. Only the very very easy to understand addons get here. It makes sense that this featured section and the regular feature section are different. This featured section has a different target audience, it focuses on people that don’t even know what addons are.

    I really like the touch of the progress bar inside the switch. Very cool!

    1. Raymond Hill wrote on :

      > it focuses on people that don’t even know what addons are.

      This is *exactly* what makes the current page dubious.

      ABP is presented as the add-on of choice to “[b]locks ads”.

      People who “don’t even know what addons are” will of course believe this. However the *hand-picked* add-on, ABP, does not do this by default: to really turn it into what its namesake suggests and what it’s description on the new Firefox add-on page suggests, one has to overcome the anti-user pattern of *opting out* of “Acceptable ads” by accessing a setting which is *not* prominently featured on the first-run page.

      Users are presented with choice of blocking spyware, malware, social widgets on the first-run page, which is pro-user, but the choice of *really actually blocking ads*, aside being opt-in, is not prominently featured: you need to be sure you read carefully the text in the first-run page, and then click the offered link. This is typical dark pattern.

      This is unarguably anti-user: the beneficiaries of the new Firefox add-on page are those who paid for being part of “Acceptable ads” and Eyeo GmbH (no doubt they are very pleased with this new Firefox add-on page), not the “people that don’t even know what addons are”.

      I can’t see this as anything else than Firefox using anti-user patterns to prop up the interests of the for-profit corporations (Eyeo GmbH and its customers who paid for the whitelisting) at the expenses of users — especially those “who don’t even know what addons are” who will of course believe that the hand-picked add-on to “block ads” actually does what it’s name and description suggest.

      1. Noitidart wrote on :

        You make great points. So maybe a better solution would be to place multiple choices in each block that scrolls. And users can pick the one they want to go with. (This extra complication on how to pick the one might be the reason the Firefox team didn’t go for this way though.)

      2. Markus Jaritz wrote on :

        As Noitidart accurately guessed, our focus for this page is to have as few complications as possible in peoples way to experience their first add-on. And to prove to them that Firefox Add-ons is a great system to customize their web experience. If this works, they will hopefully come back and want more or other add-ons, and will be prepared to look closer, as they by then had a first good experiences with add-ons.
        Raymond, are you concerned that ABP is on the list, but not uBlock Origin, or is it that this way of getting more people to use Firefox Add-ons will not work?
        If it is the first, we will keep the process of selecting add-ons for this page open and will change content. The only premise here is that the add-ons need to significantly improve peoples web experience and not break anything as those add-ons will be the first contact many users will have with Firefox Add-ons.
        If it is the second, I can assure you that we will have a close look on this page over the next months to see if it does what we hope, and we will improve upon it – also with modifying what add-ons are shown, to see what work best for people new to customizing their browser.

  5. Lee John wrote on :

    In my opinion
    A large tree needs to be in place with related add- ons under the main general ideas .
    Smaller branches pointing to what you are trying to accomplish with offshoots of added extras as branches of the tree pointing in a logical way to add-ons to your browser to make the browser more functional.

    All add-ons should be represented on this tree everyone is working to make the tree bigger and better.

    This way we all get free choice and no big company takes over our web browsing experience.

    All the choices should be listed and available with a few clicks Just like the web itself.
    Thank you for my chance to say somthing.Lee

    1. Markus Jaritz wrote on :

      I love the idea of seeing all add-ons as a tree. I think it comes close to what we envision for how to improve discoveryability on addons.mozilla.org . Every person should be able to follow the branches to find not only the popular add-on, but the one that best matches their personal need. Great idea. Thanks.

  6. Ben Cato Malkenes wrote on :

    Hi. FF User here. Sorry for intruding. 🙂

    Grid, or cathegories are a good idea. Short though, not like the list on the top left of the FAQ page. A new user would drown, or at least be intimidated. 2 root cathegories maybe, Themes and “Addons to change how FireFox behaves” Then, carefully list a few things a user can do/change with the most useful addons you can think of to entice a wide audience.

    I want to suggest that the user were asked to select a theme during install (3-5 choices, i understand you want to make the install process as short as possible), and his/hers first addon, like a tutorial, though he/she doesn’t know it’s a tutorial until after, when he/she’s met with a “Congratulations, you have now installed your first Addon and selected a Theme! – You can find more Themes and Addons ”

    Ideally, the addon would be something everyone uses. Maybe related to mail, dropbox, googledrive, youtube, news, bookmarks-backup, search, translate, something-thingie? 🙂

    Maybe add themes and addons as a bookmark, and have the bookmark line visible by default?
    (The first thing i do when installing FF, is enabling the bookmark line, and removing get started and most visited).

    I’ve read your discussion, but why not make a grid / cathegories / blocs with say, 3 visible addons in each cathegory, with a “show all” link?

    AND… before you answer, 🙂

    Addons which are under review, in beta or sub-optimal, are denied a chance to compete for the 3 spots.
    Then the list is like this:

    Addon1 (Feedback or stars the last 1-2 months. Eliminates old and buggy addons)
    Addon2 (WIll be demoted or removed after 2 weeks if feedback is negative)
    Addon3 (Problem is, who’s the Editor? Maybe make a suggestion system where people with common interests can vote up or suggest addons) 😛

    Not gonna charge for this, it’s from the top of the top of my head. Had the ideas while i read your discussion, so don’t judge me. 🙂


    1. Markus Jaritz wrote on :

      Great idea to consider on-boarding for introducing add-ons. We know many people love themes so that would be a great start. 🙂
      With disco pane we mad a first step towards making it easier to find your first add-on, and we selected extensions for functions we knew everyone loves. Thinking of it as a tutorial is a great way of putting it. Thanks.
      And I like your idea of having add-ons in a rotation. I agree, every great add-on should get a chance. We will definitely have to set something like that up.

  7. dommy wrote on :

    I couldn’t agree. Any more yes ppl. Now days r so helpful I don’t no what I’d do with out there advice