Starting in October 2012 and finishing in February of 2013, the User Experience Research team conducted the largest project in its history: a large-scale user typology of Firefox’s user base in North America. It was an exciting and unique project for our team that evinced the collaborative nature of our team (both in User Experience Research and beyond at Mozilla).
The main goal of the project was to define and delineate groups of users based on their behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and motivations. We chose to call these groups “user types” because our focus was primarily on user interaction and behavior with our products and services rather than toward another end such as marketing. (We also borrowed the terms “user types” and “user typology” from this excellent meta-analysis of similar studies.)
Beyond defining these user types, the other main goal of our study was to reveal valuable insights about our users, who they are, and how they are using our products and services. With these insights, we can build products and features based on models of how actual people will use them. We believe these user types will help all of Mozilla (not just the UX or product teams) to make decisions, set priorities, and lead new initiatives for our products and services.
We chose North America to begin with because it is the market with which our team is most familiar. Since our team is located primarily in North America, the United States and Canada allowed us to keep our travel budget limited and eased some of the logistics of recruiting and working with third-party vendors.
With our limited location in mind, we caution against applying our results in a more universal context. However, some smaller follow-up studies have shown that some of our clusters of traits can be applicable across other cultures as well as other browsers.
Our study was composed of three interconnected components:
- Twenty-four in-home interviews with geographically-distributed, demographically-relevant participants who identify Firefox as their “primary web browser.” In this study we identified relevant behaviors, motivations, attitudes, and context for how participants use Firefox. The interviews were conducted in and around the following locales: Toronto, Ontario, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Los Angeles, California.
- An online diary study with a similarly selected population of interest with forty-five participants. We used this study to gather short-term longitudinal data on user behavior.
- A quantitative survey with a 1000 member census-balanced panel to validate our observations from the first two qualitative components. We found that participants clustered around many of the traits we identified in the previous components and an additional factor analysis confirmed this result. Further, we were able to estimate population percentages for each user type.
Results: Introducing Firefox User Types
Based on the quantitative study, we know that the overwhelming majority of Firefox users (~90%) fall with varying degrees of strength into each type. Many Firefox users have traits that place them weakly or neutrally in more than one type, but ultimately those users primarily belong to one type. A small number of users are hybrids who bridge more than one type; meaning, the strength of the traits they embody exist among more than one type.
Below are the six user types we identified and the primary attributes associated with them including:
- An “I” statement that describes the user types motivations and behaviors.
- The approximate percentage of the overall Firefox population for the user type.
- Relevant demographic data associated with the user type.
I would especially like to thank Zhenshou Fang for her excellent work both designing the following graphics and drawing the illustrations associated with each user type.