New download and install flow for Firefox 55

It’s been quite a while (January!) since I posted an update about the onboarding work we’ve been doing. If you’ve been using Nightly or read any of the Photon Engineering newsletters, you may have seen the new user tour we’re building but onboarding encompasses much more than that and we shipped some important pieces in Firefox 55 today.

The experiment we ran back in February (along with a follow up in May) went really well*. We had 4 important successes:

  1. The changes to the installer resulted in 8% more installs (that’s unheard of!).
  2. We retained 2.4% more of the people who went through our new experience. (combined with the installer change that means 10.6% more people using Firefox).
  3. Ratings for the new flow were on par with ratings of the existing flow. In addition, in user research, participants responded positively to the art on the new download page and installer and some were delighted by the animation on the firstrun page.

    I thought it was really cute. Especially the little sunrise at the beginning. That was precious. I thought it was kind of ingenious. It kind of implied that you’re using a product that’s pulling you into the light. Something like that. It was a cute little interactive feature which I really enjoyed.
    – Research participant

  4. Changing the /firstrun page to a sign in flow instead of a sign up flow resulted in a 14.8% increase in people ending up with second device connected to sync (which is the whole point of sync).

So today with Firefox 55 we shipped a new streamlined installer, we moved the default browser ask to the second session and we now open the privacy notice in a second tab instead of displaying a bottom notification bar. These changes join the new download and firstrun pages that shipped 2 weeks ago.

Here’s a quick video of Firefox 55 in action.

Planet Mozilla viewers – you can watch this video on YouTube (1 min.).

It is not an easy feat to build a whole new flow that cuts a swath across internal organizations and I’m incredibly proud of the work our team did to get here. And there’s a lot more to come (like that new user tour) that I’ll outline in another post.

*We weren’t able to properly test the automigration feature (automatically importing your stuff from another browser) back in February because of underlying performance issues that we discovered in the migration tool. We fixed many of the performance issues with migration but a subsequent test revealed that they haven’t all been fixed. Sadly, in a flow where we do this silently, some people just experiences a janky, slow Firefox. So we’re not going to ship automigration for now and instead we’re going to replace the modal import wizard on startup with a non-modal message embedded in Activity Stream beginning in Firefox 57.

7 Year Mozillaversary

🍻Another Mozillaversary is here (7 years!) and I continue to look forward to many more. This next year should be pretty exciting. By this time in 2018 we will have launched our onboarding experience for new, returning and updating Firefox users and it will have, hopefully, made an impact.🤞

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

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!


  • 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.


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.


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.

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 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 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.