Building MDN into a world class repository of high quality Web documentation is one of the most valuable things Mozilla has done for Web developers. Now we’re looking to double-down on that work, and solidify MDN as the single best resource for Web docs. To support that effort, we’re starting some updates to the MDN brand and website. In this post I’m going to lay out what to expect, and why we think it’s so important.
MDN’s mission today is to provide developers with the information they need to build things on the open Web. However, when MDN was first started, it didn’t differentiate between Web standards documentation and product documentation for Firefox, Gecko and other Mozilla products. Over time, as Web documentation was expanded on MDN, it became clear that it provided value to a much larger group of developers than our internal product documentation. We have been investing to improve the Web documentation ever since.
Changing the Name
MDN is clearly a web documentation reference, and in no way is it a developer network. We want the name to clearly reflect the purpose and mission of MDN, and so we’re going to be updating it to: MDN Web Docs.
“Mozilla Developer Network” simply isn’t accurate. Furthermore, pretty much no one refers to MDN as “Mozilla Developer Network.” It’s always “MDN.” However, there is a lot of love for the name “MDN” and we don’t want to get rid of all of that, which is why we’re giving it the IBM / KFC treatment and keeping the iconic abbreviation and commonly used name, while no longer using the words that the acronym used to stand for. We’re not getting rid of MDN, we’re being clear about what it is – it’s MDN Web Docs.
We’re already working on what the MDN Web Docs logo will look like when rendered in the system of the new Mozilla brand, and here’s an early look:
Separating Product Documentation
Currently the home page of MDN has links to both web documentation and product documentation (like Firefox, Developer Tools, Add-ons and more), but about 95% of traffic goes to the Web documentation. Additionally, many searches can be confusing because a Web developer looking for something about CSS may end up on a page about XUL, for example CSS Grid vs XUL Grid, and ultimately can’t find the thing they were looking for. We will be splitting out the navigation for the product documentation so that MDN can be fully dedicated to helping people find the Web docs they need. We will also be investigating ways to ensure that search results direct users to exactly what they were looking for without confusing Web and product documentation.
Site Design Refresh
Along with a brand identity refresh, we’ll also be refreshing the site design. You will be able to see as pieces of this get completed, and you can also give feedback as we work over the coming weeks by becoming a beta tester on MDN. We’ll also follow up with future articles once there is some work to share about the new look of the site.
More Content and Features To Help Web Devs
Lastly, but most importantly, we will be working to add more content and features to help Web developers. We’ve already started a couple of experiments like putting examples at the top of the article, and looking at including editable code snippets within the articles. Research has told us that our documentation is excellent and thorough, but often Web developers are looking for quick examples before having to read through extensive articles. Doing more to help developers find faster and more efficient ways to learn from the documentation is a critical area where we hope to improve, and you can expect to see more experiments like this. If you have other ideas about ways that our documentation could be more valuable or easier to use, we’re open to hearing more ideas!
We’re incredibly excited to make MDN officially about Web docs, and to make it more comprehensive and easier to use and learn from for all of the web developers who have come to love it as a resource.