February 2017 Onboarding Test

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube (6 min.).

Over the last year we’ve done a lot of work on Onboarding and in mid-February we’ll be launching our next experiment. In this video I’ll walk you through the things what we’re testing and why.

There’s much more work planned this year – especially leading up to our big release. I’ll be posting more about those plans, our experiments and the results as our work progresses.

Fun fact: I used a couple of framer.js mockups to make this video. If you’d like to click through them yourself you can (sadly these don’t work in release Firefox). Current flow. Our test flow.

Hello 2017

Oh hey. It’s been nearly 2 years and a couple of domain switches since the last post. Probably about time for a blog post soon. 🙂

5 Years at Mozilla

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.

For fun, here’s some video from my first week.

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Refresh from web in Firefox 35

refresh
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.

Lightspeed – a browser experiment

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.
This is a presentation that Philipp Sackl and I put together for the Firefox UX team. It’s a browser experiment called Lightspeed. If you want the short version you can download this pdf version of the presentation. Let me know what you think!

Notes:

  • I mention the “Busy Bee” and “Evergreen” user types. These are from the North American user type study we did in 2012 and 2013.
  • 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.

Recent work on Bookmarks and Firefox Reset

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.

bookmarks

With the design done, this is currently waiting to be implemented.

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.

reset-instead-of-download

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.

reset-on-reinstallation

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.

User Education in everything we do

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

At the Mozilla Summit, Mitchell and Mark talked about education as one of the pillars that underlies our mission. To paraphrase Mark,

“We need to make sure that the whole of the web understands what the web can do for them so they can use it to make their lives better.”

One way we do this is through Webmaker. Right there on webmaker.org it says, we’re dedicated to teaching web literacy. The big Webmaker projects right now (Thimble, X-Ray Goggles, Popcorn) are mainly focused on the “building” literacy. I think the other literacies – exploring and connecting – are also extremely important and possibly relevant to a wider group of people as they include the very basic skills of using a browser (navigation, search, security, privacy, sharing and collaborating).

I also think we have a great opportunity to address exploring and connecting, not only as Webmaker projects, but built right into our products and the experiences that surround them. For example, one of the findings of our North American user type study was that simplified, integrated (in the browser as opposed to the help site), help and support would be a direct thing we could do to help Evergreens and Busy Bees. And, taken together, Evergreens and Busy Bees (plus hybrids that include these types) are our largest group accounting for about 36% of users.

So what would it look like to build user education into everything we do? Well, this new update experience is one example. It might also look like Facebook posts, newsletters, search results, installation dialogs or the product documentation on mozilla.org. This year I’ll begin to work full-time on developing and testing approaches. As a former teacher, the exciting part for me will be what we learn from people. As Mitchell says in the video above,

“Most good teachers will tell you that if you try to teach, you end up learning.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Building a new Firefox update experience

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Last week I introduced the new Firefox update experience that we’re working on. Since then, we’ve had a few days together in San Francisco to work out a new version (the first version was done last summer). So check out the video above for a walk-though of our progress and the video below for a few scenes of us working together this last week.

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Making the user manual disappear

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

Some fine morning next spring (or next fall for the other side of the earth), people will open Firefox and find that it has a whole new look. A gorgeous new tab strip that makes it easy to focus on what you’re doing. A bookmark star and bookmark menu sitting right next to each other and a new, visual Firefox menu that’s super easy to customize. And on that day, they’ll also see a message drop down from the new menu button, inviting them to take a tour of these new features. This week I’m super super excited to be in San Francisco to work with a bunch of great people (Zhenshou, Holly, Jen, Laura, Michael, Alex and Blair) on building that tour.

So let me tell you my version of how this came to be.

This is a slide from a Kathy Sierra presentation. It’s my favorite presentation slide ever. This is what I came to Mozilla to do. Actually, what I’d love is for people to not even realize they’re reading the manual. Have it so integrated into the whole Firefox experience ecosystem that it kind of disappears.

Over the last few years I’ve been working on that in a couple of different ways. One is that we re-purpose or link to support stuff everywhere. All over Firefox, the website, our blogs, Facebook and Twitter and even sometimes in the stories written about us by others. It’s become a whole thing now that just happens and I don’t always hear about it until after the fact. Like the time Facebook did it and sent millions to one article.

Another project I work on is the Firefox Reset. When I first started working on support, the last resort for helping someone was often creating a new profile and migrating their important data over. That is Wizard level stuff! So with the Reset we turned it into a super fast, one-click-easy thing that even a Busy Bee can love. And now if Firefox takes a long time to start or if you try it again after having given up on it for a couple of months we’ll suggest you use the reset to make Firefox brand new – but without loosing all the stuff you care about. How cool is that?

Ok. Still with me. Here’s the thing I’m getting at. This update experience, like those other projects, is part of my master plan to make the user manual disappear.

A little more than a year ago, knowing that this new version of Firefox was happening, I got a bunch of people together to start talking about what we could do to get users excited about it and make sure they saw the new features. So there will be a whole coordinated effort to talk about it before, during and after. Of course, as part of that there’s a ton of new support material that will need to be created – new articles, screenshots, videos. But the big new thing that I’m super excited about is this new update experience which is key part.

The idea is, when Firefox starts up after having updated, a message will drop down from the new menu button inviting you to take a tour. Of course you can dismiss it but in the process of doing that, you just learned about that new menu. You see what we did there? And if you choose to take the tour well show off few Firefox tricks. But check this out. Our web-based tour is able to interact with Firefox – like we can open that new menu and highlight stuff in there. I think it’s going to great.

So is it marketing? Is it support? A website? The product? The UI? The UX? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! It’s all of that and more. Like getting chocolate in your peanut butter or peanut butter in your chocolate.

So check back next week for demo time! And then soon, hopefully for lots more – like a new, new user experience.

The importance of user education and onboarding

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube.

I’m at the Mozilla Summit in Brussels this weekend. This afternoon during the “Framing the Future” session, a question was asked about what we’re doing to help less technical users and what we’re doing to avoid alienating existing users. This video has David Ascher talking about what was learned from missing the opportunity to educate and onboard users for the Thunderbird 3 launch. He goes on to talk about how important it is that we get better at this and that he expects that we’ll be doing this with the introduction of Australis (Firefox redesign).

This is something that I’m deeply passionate about. I wrote about this last December just after I had begun organizing a cross-functional meeting to see what we could do to solve this very issue. I’m super excited to say that we are moving ahead with building an brand new update experience for Firefox users that we’ll use to help smooth the transition to Australis when it launches early next year. I’ll be sharing more about that soon.