Today is my 5 year Mozilla anniversary. Back in 2010, I joined the support team to create awesome documentation for Firefox. That quickly evolved into looking for ways to help users before ever reaching the support site. And this year I joined the Firefox UX team to expand on that work. A lot of things have changed in those five years but Mozilla’s work is as relevant as ever. That’s why I’m even more excited about the work we’re doing today as I was back in 2010. These last 5 years have been amazing and I’m looking forward to many more to come.
Back in July, I mentioned working on making download pages offer a reset (now named “Refresh”) when you are trying to download the same exact version of Firefox that you already have. Well, this is now live with Firefox 35 (released yesterday) and it works on our main download page (pictured above) and on the product support page. In addition, our support documentation can now include refresh buttons. This should make the refresh feature easier to discover and use and let people recover from problems quickly.
This is a proposal for an experiment that I would love to see us build. At the very least I think there are some good ideas in here that might work as experiments on their own. But to be clear, we’re not removing add-ons, customization or anything else from Firefox.
I created this video about bookmarks for Firefox 29. It’s in English and has closed captions for a few languages, including German. But you can see from this audience retention data that German speakers don’t watch the video as much as English speakers.
So, with Kadir‘s help, I made a German version (above). You can see that this video performs much better in German speaking locales. Of course this is what we expected but it’s cool to see how plainly it shows up.
Note: Rewinding and re-watching can result in values higher than 100%.
I’ve been working on a number of things over the last couple of months and I wanted to share two of them. First, bookmarks. Making this bookmarks video for Firefox 29 reminded me of a long-standing issue that’s bothered me. By default, new bookmarks are hidden away in the unsorted bookmarks folder. So without any instruction, they’re pretty hard to find. Now that we have this fun animation that shows you where your new bookmark went, I thought it would be good if you could actually see that bookmark when clicking on the bookmarks menu button. After thinking about a number of approaches we decided to move the list of recent bookmarks from a sub-menu and expose them directly in the main bookmarks menu.
Another project that I’ve been focusing on is Firefox Reset. The one, big, unimplemented piece of this work that began about three years ago, is making this feature discoverable when people need it. And the main place we like to surface this option is when people try to reinstall the same version of Firefox that they are currently running. We often see people try to do this, expecting that it will fix various problems. The issue is that reinstalling doesn’t fix many things at all. What most people are expecting to happen, actually happens when you reset Firefox. So here we’d like to take two approaches. If the download page knows that you have the same version of Firefox that you are trying to download, it should offer you a reset button instead of the regular download button.
The other approach is to have Firefox detect if it’s just had the same version installed and offer you the opportunity to reset Firefox.
The nice thing about these approaches is that work together. If you determine that something is wrong with Firefox and you want to fix it by reinstalling, you’ll see a reset button on the download page. If you use that, the reset process takes just a few seconds and you can be on your way. If you want to download and install a new copy you can, and you’ll have another opportunity to reset after Firefox has launched and you’ve verified whether the issue has been fixed. This presentation explains in more detail how these processes might work. This work isn’t final and there are a few dependencies to work out but I’m hopeful these pieces can be completed soon.
Yesterday I was on another episode of The Web Ahead. This time, talking about the videoblogging movement that I was involved in starting back in 2004. It was then that my friend Ryanne and I created Freevlog to teach people how to get video on the web (we later turned that into a book). Firefox was a really big thing for us back then and it was the beginning of my love of the Mozilla mission and eventually led to me working at Mozilla.