New Firefox Icon: Q&A

Lovely screenshots. I don’t see any Linux ones. Is Mozilla ever going to learn? Don’t you remember the whole visual refresh issue that happened on this very blog?

My apologies for the delay, updating the icon on linux was slightly more involved, partly because we were adding support for additional resolutions, and partly because I had no idea how to update an app icon on linux (David Dahl wrote the patch). Anyway, here are the screenshots, and please don’t read too much into them being posted late. It was just an implementation issue and not at all meant to convey anything other than that.


(note that the launcher icons are controlled by the distribution, so they won’t show up if you are testing a Release Candidate).

You nailed it. Honestly can’t think of any more improvements. Great job!

Thanks, but credit really goes to Anthony Piraino at the Iconfactory, as well as the very long list of talented designers who privately provided feedback and creative direction throughout the project.

Nice icon.
Could you now address the 5-year-old printing bugs in firefox?

If by “you” you mean me personally, then probably not without first getting entirely up to speed with our printing code. However if by “you” you mean the Mozilla community in general, yes there are people working on that. However, I think having separate teams that work on different aspects of a product is a good way to make sure that user experience doesn’t get de-prioritized under a long list of low level implementation bugs.

In your last post, pretty much everyone said they liked 11 or 12-1 and due to too much gloss and the weird line that extends past the right side of the nose…yet you pick the glossiest icon with the weird ass line. The head also looks very, very fuzzy on the 16px icons.

Alex, maybe [you’re] only reading the first dozen comments on your blog each time and not checking back the next day to see what all was posted overnight.

I’m reading every comment as they arrive (with occasional breaks for sleeping). However, feedback is coming in from a lot of places beyond the comments section of this blog, and overall more than half of it has come in through private email. This leads to the unfortunate situation where people may feel like we aren’t listening. The other consideration is that while we are very interested in getting as much feedback as possible, we aren’t trying to create an environment where we are running the design purely by committee. So this means that while I’ve been processing all the feedback that comes in, I’ve also been giving increased weight to our overall goals for the project, and the opinions of other designers, like Stephen Horlander, Stephen DesRoches, Sean Martell, Steven Garrity, and Daniel Burka (who have all contributed significantly to founding Mozilla’s visual identity). We also received a lot of useful feedback from Mike Beltzner, Asa Dotzler, John Slater, Paul Kim, Tara Shahian, Alexander Limi, and Jennifer Boriss.

Shadow looks out of place on windows — it has light coming from 12o’clock (straight above), all the other windows icons have light coming from 10.30 or 11 or so (upper left, so shadow is below and to right).

We ended up going with a consistent shadow across platforms since we didn’t want to adjust the light source for each type of shadow (causing a lot of visual changes). It’s a little inconsistent with platform conventions, and I think we’ll want to customize the icons to each platform’s visual style more in the future.

Looks nice, but does it look good on Windows 2000? I believe, Windows 2000 is now the only supported OS, that doesn’t support the alpha blended icons.

Here is the icon on Windows 2000, with no alpha blending, and going all the way down to the retro 4 bit. My apologies to the Windows 2000 users testing an earlier build with the application icon that accidently didn’t render, we got that figured out pretty quickly.


In general I think these changes are too conservative. It’ll look fine on the Firefox homepage but on your desktop the change will be too subtle for most people to notice.

We are being really cautious to avoid confusion as users attempt to locate the Firefox 3.5 icon in order to access the Internet. Refreshing icons can of course be problematic because it is part artwork, and part road sign.

Could you also include a screenshot of the Windows XP installer. It has very large close up of the icon on the first page.


Ok… lets say that program icon looks good. How about mime types? I hate XP-style icons in Vista.


Thanks to Boriss for getting these assembled, the background page images for Windows and OS X were made by Sofa. Linux has the standard behavior of using the html document icon supplied by the desktop environment.


  1. Nicely done on handling all of this Alex. There must have been an overwhelming amount of feedback to read, sort, and process. No, I don’t just mean from me. :) It was a lot though.

    Thanks yet again for providing the opportunity to participate.

  2. Thanks very much for this update Alex. The new icon looks really good in all the screenshots on all OSes.

  3. now im satisfied; html looks good!

  4. Design in the open is difficult and I applaud your efforts here, Alex.

    To those who were looking for a design by committee made up of everyone with an opinion, sorry to disappoint you but that’s never been the Firefox process and shouldn’t ever be.

    The outcome certainly wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it’s a solid improvement and I think it meets the goals of the project quite well.

    Thanks, again, to Alex for making this so transparent.

  5. overall a great job! congratulations to everybody involved!
    a nit: the icon seems a bit too big (1-2px?) compared to the other ones on the panel bar, and it feels as if it touches the edges of the bar (compare with the envelop and the round question mark icon).

  6. sorry, just noticed: the icon on the firefox titlebar on ubuntu seems chopped off on the right by the “Mozilla Firefox” label (on the last but one series of shots with grey titlebars).

  7. The new more “feathery” flames with bits of “world” peeking through on the right edge make it look “ragged” or “serrated” at lower resolutions (e.g. the shot of the icon on the Ubuntu launch bar). Is it worth smoothing that out for a consistent orange curve, at resolutions where the individual flames are too small to see?

    P.S. “Allow comment box to float next to comments” is all very well, but if the box is taller than your screen (which it is on my 1024×768 laptop) you can’t see “Submit Comment” to click it! :-)

  8. The tangoish icon looks quite good.

    The globe seems too shiny end it stand out in the menu, but the rest looks perfect.

    I wonder if you could show big launcher on desktop with its 48×48 icon or simpler – whole pack of icons ^^ .

  9. Thanks for listening and keeping this in the open! It looks great overall, although I agree with the nits in comments 5 and 6. I think they are going to be noticeable, particularly the cropping.

  10. I like the new icons, the only problem I see is on the Linux version, on the gnome panel it looks too big in comparison with other system icons. the Firefox 3.0 icon had enough padding in order to do not reach the borders of the panel

  11. I like the high resolution icon, but really hate the low resolution versions. That childish/tangoes look is not for me.

    Btw, firefox in 5 different Ubuntu themes. Common!. That only shows that Firefox’s Gnome integration is simply OK (MacOS and Win are superb), but nothing else.

    Please, start to worry about really integrating Firefox into KDE: native look and use of KDE’s apps, not Gnome’s!.

  12. Icons look really nice.
    Congrats for the work made here.

    And I’m quite impressed by the patience you have to answer every questions in a such polite way. :)

  13. I’m loving the shiny globe – is it available anywhere as a standalone graphic?

  14. @Miguel:
    Better choose another browser. Mozilla for years ignored KDE existance. First Qt port was dead years ago, then no long after that the GTK+ version was more and more becoming Gnome HIG like with the ridiculous Cancel|OK scheme for buttons etc. The second port for Qt4 was started and almost finished by Nokia heck it’s even merged into Mozilla main branch , yet Mozilla doesn’t want to support it. Their stance is :” GTK+ is the only official build on Linux”

    If they posted screenshots of Firefox in KDE it would be admiting how big failure this browser is on that platform, with worse integration with each release … Heck if you want to use Firefox under KDE you either will have to hack it use external themes and apps like kgtk and it will still feel wrong under KDE…

  15. @val-gaav
    Unfortunately you’re absolutely right.

    I just hope that any of the new browser alternatives in Linux landscape is able to introduce usability to their designs. Or, better, that Konqueror evolves in this regard.

  16. patrickjdempsey

    I’m a little sad that not all the changes that were discussed got implemented but I think overall it looks good. At first I was a little put-off by the redder color of his head, but I do like that the redder coloration helps keep the icon distinct from the older icon. This makes having 2 Firefox icons on your desktop easier to distinguish which is useful for Add-ons testers! Also, the redder color makes the icon look much better in limited icon color mode… I use that mode on my antiquated laptop to conserve juice! Overall a welcome refresh.

  17. Thanks for the post and screenshots. They are so detailised. I liked them very much. As for me, whereever I have a problem I try to find the answer with the help of blogs or videos. Try it next time.