Firefox, The Next Generation

By | September 1, 2009

Firefox has been generally open source with their design process.  It’s an interesting approach and bound to get people interested and possibily to inspire some great ideas.  On the other hand, it’s alot of work to manage the flow of ideas.

Their latest challenge is to re-conceptualize how bookmarks, history and other data are rendered in the browser.  I think I have some ideas about this, but they would make some significant changes to the UI overall.  I should mock them up.  Generally, though, this is the gist of it:

  1. Have all controls, including the tabs, menus, etc hidden by default.  Let the actual webpage take up 100% of the window, with no chrome.  This is the direction that browsers are going anyway.  Don’t fight it.  Embrace 100% minimalism.  This raises a major question: How do you get to the other tabs?
  2. Good Question!  Have a bar appear of from the top when you put your mouse over it.  It would slide down (on top of the content) some tab-looking things.  One is a tab with the current address.  To the left and right of it are little affordances (icons) to “expand” the tabs to take up more room.  Expanding them would give you the exact same tab bar you have now, or better yet, one like Chrome.
  3. The other tab-like things are History, Settings and Bookmarks.  Possibly collapse History and Bookmarks into one.  Clicking them or hover-intent over them maybe would give increased space to manage/browse/find/click.
  4. I’ve seen a bunch of visualizations for bookmarks and history.  None of them seemed like they were good for mass audiences.  To me, there is one obvious UI for bookmarks:  Search.  Why do I need to browse through bookmarks?  Give me instant search through them and the ability to tag them and I would be happy.  It also has the side benefit of reducing the real estate needed in the UI.

I should mock these up.  Maybe in Balsamiq?  I think it would make for a good overall experience, plus it would give Firefox the maximum viewing area of any browser.  Interesting food for thought.

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