When we left off, we showed that the #1 reason why people refused the Firefox Major Update offer was their frustration/preference/confusion related to the awesome bar (or location bar). There are a few things interesting with this piece of feedback and with all the feedback more generally:
- Virtually everyone who provided feedback had previously used Fx3 and subsequently reverted back to Fx2. This was 100% descriptive of this cohort and largely described all other users who were kind enough to share their thoughts.
- Some of the issues cited have since been resolved (since last summer). Clearly, many users tried Fx3 when it was initially released, then reverted back to Fx2 shortly thereafter, and now they still won’t consider upgrading because of their initial experience (even if that initial issue has since been resolved). You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
Returning to our cohort of users not fully satisfied with or fully comfortable with the awesome bar, we’ve released a series of enhancements in Fx3.5 that should resolve their concerns. Alex Faaborg provided an extensive walk-through, and here’s one key section that should help this group of users:
Ability to Control What Appears in the Location Bar Search Results (Proactive Privacy)
When we expanded the capabilities of the location bar to search against all history and bookmarks in Firefox 3, a lot of people contacted us to say that they had certain bookmarks they didn’t really want to have displayed. In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object. Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarrassing things that Firefox can do to you. So now in Firefox 3.5, users have complete control over what types of information are displayed in the location bar (or suggestions can be turned off entirely):
So, what actions items can come of this user feedback?
If we think this concern surrounding the location bar is solely limited to existing Fx2 users, we could consider some special messaging for them. However, I would venture to guess that some small fraction of the Firefox user base currently on either Fx3 or Fx3.5 (93% of all users) share similar thoughts about the location bar. If so, then it would likely be worthwhile for us consider a couple options:
• Modify Firefox itself.
Below is a simplified mock-up of just one idea I came up with (please note that I don’t know anything about UI). I’m not sure if the average user knows about Tools->Options, so the concept here is that a person could easily understand how the location bar works and adjust it (according to their preferences) within a fraction of a second.
• Up-level messaging about the location bar and its latest enhancements.
Utilizing key touch points, such as the firstrun page, whatsnew page, or firefox.com page, could help users feel more comfortable with the location bar and its awesome functionality. For example, is it more important for us to be using these critical touch points to promote open video formats and Fx add-ons, or to highlight Firefox’s most utilized feature and how it can best help a user in his/her everyday life (and not frustrate them)? At the very least, this seems like a question we should be asking.
What are your thoughts?