The UX of Firefox 3.5

By | June 18, 2009

Recently, Mozilla Firefox has been challenged on my desktop as the default browser.  I keep flip-flopping between Google Chrome and Firefox 3.5.  I was really excited to see Aza Raskin taking the UX reigns at Firefox to see what someone with creative mojo could do with such a powerful program.  At first, the ideas were flowing out like a raging river, but there has been a strange outcome.  Firefox 3.5 is about to come out and I see virtually zero new UX features from 3.0.

Sure, the HTML and JS  rendering is faster with TraceMonkey and they support new elements with HTML like <video>, but I was really hoping that the tabs would be different or Ubiquity would come standard.  In Firefox 3.5, they still don’t have the Brady bunch squares or something comparable.  I saw a plugin for Jetpack, but honestly, I don’t know what it’s for and it says jQuery all over it.  Am I missing something?

I am really drawn to Chrome for a couple of reasons.  First, the tabs design is brilliant.  The use of space is just awesome, not to mention the great interaction of dragging the tabs around or creating new windows.  Secondly, the speed is noticeable.  It launches faster and everything seems peppier.  What I hate, hate, hate about chrome are the developer toolsElement Inspector is just enormously painful to use. (I can’t find a homepage for it anywhere)

I love Firefox’s mojo.  I love that they are non-profit and are up against much bigger and better resourced competitors like Google, Apple and Microsoft.  How do they do that?  They deserve my loyalty for sure.  I also love the plugins, especially Firebug and the Web Dev Toolbar.  The thing that they need to step up is the innovation.  I feel like they got leap-frogged by Webkit.

I want to be loyal to Firefox because they share my values, but I am tempted to switch browsers because I love new shiny stuff.  Oh, the dilemma!

In case Aza Raskin reads this, I have an idea:  Try auto-hide on the top menu.  Let it collapse away when I don’t need it.  If I need to hit the back button, I would move my mouse up to the top and the menus would slide over the content. (Don’t resize the content)

8 thoughts on “The UX of Firefox 3.5

  1. mdmadph

    Glen, I really, really don’t see what the fuss is about. 😛

    1) Firefox 3.5 isn’t a major release. The big deal about Firefox 3.5 _is_ the speed increase, not much more.

    2) I like Chrome, too. I like Firefox just as much. So I use both! Firefox for development (because of the multitude of developer extensions), Chrome in incognito mode for all my browsing.

    Have the best of both worlds!

    Reply
  2. Glen Lipka Post author

    I want Firefox to succeed. I have the feeling though that they are getting out-resourced and need to keep the pressure on regarding UX innovation. I want them to be the best of both worlds on their own. It’s annoying to use multiple browsers.

    Reply
  3. Robert Schultz

    Quote: “…I don’t know what it’s for and it says jQuery all over it”

    Do you have something against jQuery?

    Just curious 🙂

    Reply
  4. Glen Lipka Post author

    Quite the opposite. I am part of the jQuery evangelism team. jQuery changed my life.

    Some experiments: http://www.commadot.com/jquery

    My point was, “I know lots about websites and jQuery and here is this jetpack thing, and I can’t figure out what to do with it.”

    Reply
  5. mdmadph

    Well, that’s the thing — why is everyone saying Chrome is so “innovative” when it comes to UX? If you ask me, all they did was _remove_ things (and Safari 4 quickly followed suit).

    Is it really innovative to just remove standard things (menus, bookmarks bar, etc.) from a browser and say, “Look at what we made!!”

    If Firefox comes out with a browser that’s just an address bar at the top of their UI, and nothing else, will it be a champion of innovation?

    Reply
  6. Glen Lipka Post author

    Some Einstein Quotes…he had a way with words:

    – Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

    – Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

    Yes, Chrome is innovative by finding a simpler way. It doesn’t reduce features, it makes them easier/more elegant. Chrome still has menus and bookmarks, but they figured out how to make them simpler.

    Funny thing about Safari, I never use it. I don’t like their version of the tabs.

    Reply
  7. Rachel Luxemburg

    “I love that they are non-profit and are up against much bigger and better resourced competitors like Google, Apple and Microsoft. How do they do that?”

    Google pays Firefox in the tens of millions annually.

    Reply
  8. mdmadph

    @Rachel

    Which makes Google coming out with Chrome all the stranger. I never even saw it coming.

    Reply

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