How do they get all those apps?

When people think about “app stores” they tend to think about buying apps and browsing for apps, maybe even reviewing apps and rating apps. There’s an important step before any of that stuff can happen though,  that’s developers submitting apps into the store to be bought, browsed, rated and reviewed.

As we move closer to the launch of Firefox OS, the Firefox Marketplace team has been thinking a lot about how developers submit their apps. I’d like to share some of that thinking today, as a preview of the submission process we’ll be rolling out soon.

It all starts with research Back in January, we ran a usability study on the existing Marketplace submission flow, to see how it was and wasn’t working for developers. We gathered a great group of developers from Brazil, France, The Philippines and Singapore to help us test the existing flow and identify places we could improve the experience. Here’s what we found:

  • The submission flow on the old Marketplace homepage was hard to find
  • The privacy policy field was a big hurdle for our participants, they didn’t know how to write a privacy policy
  • The breakdown of platforms wasn’t clear, clicking all four platform options, they assumed their app would run with no problems on all supported platforms.
  • Pricing information for an app was confusing, especially submitting a free app that has in-app purchasable content.

Bringing it all together

Mozilla Marketplace Developer Homepage before and after

One we had identified problems with the existing Marketplace submission process, we went to work trying to fix them. We revamped the developer home page to make it clearer what was documentation and what was an entry point into the submission flow.

App Submission before and after

We worked with the Product Management and Engineering teams, who were already aware of the gap in the way we presented deployment platforms to users and the way the system actually worked, to create a more accurate more usable experience. This “Unbucketing” design replaced the four platform options that existed in the submission process (Firefox OS, Firefox, Firefox Mobile, Firefox Tablet) with a representation of the technologies, displays and input methods an app is compatible with, and then lets developers know which platforms their apps will run on. We also made the pricing information more straight forward with this redesign. You can actually play with a prototype of it now! Let us know what you think about it in the comments.

We’re still working on ways to make a Privacy Policy easier for developers to make for their apps and we’re also still working out some of the details with pricing around the world; the web is never finished. We want to make sure the apps experience is great for consumers and developers, because an ecosystem is only only as good as the apps that are in it.

4 comments on “How do they get all those apps?”

  1. Steven Hoober wrote on

    Privacy policy creation should be easy. Really, just boilerplate should work: offer developers some checkboxes to help offer up the most applicable one, they can edit it them as they wish past that.

    BUT, this is totally worth checking out:

    Visual, iconic, what-we-do vs. terrible disclaimers. Several steps past even just speaking english to people. I encourage everyone to do this. Look at to see the big companies behind it, so maybe someday we all change the world, instead of always doing the long terrible lawyerly one.

    You should think about joining, and making everyone who submits use this instead.

    1. Tony Santos wrote on

      Hi Steven,

      These are great resources. We’re actually underway working with Mozilla Legal to make sure privacy policy generation is not an overwhelming issue for apps developers. I’ll make sure I add these to our list of privacy policy resources that we will hopefully be rolling out very soon :)

  2. Robert Kaiser wrote on

    One thing I feel we don’t embrace much right now is that those developers doing open source apps usually feel very highly about the licenses they chose and right now we don’t offer any way for them to display that.
    I also have heard people from free software groups request that we should have some kind of search for openly licensed apps, as they might not want to install proprietary software.

    1. Tony Santos wrote on

      You’re absolutely right Robert. We’re looking into licensing details for apps in the Marketplace. Do you have any specific licenses you think would be best to include? Creative commons and the usual OSS licenses are the ones I’m currently thinking about.