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Firefox Home Tab Concept

This summer I’ve been working at Mozilla with the Firefox UX team. My main project of the summer was to research what the hometab of the future could and should be. I was to give Firefox a useful path to traverse and provide some ideas about the design and experience of the hometab in Firefox.

In starting this project I came up with some predispositions (pre-project thoughts) on hometab, and how people use the internet. I then completed three major types of research: competitor analysis, academic research, and user research. This research led me to the following insights:

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Sharing in Firefox

Most of us like to share things with people that we know. This is one reason that flickr, facebook, and twitter became so popular. Sharing is huge. It’s likely that if you’ve used the internet, you have shared something with someone. Many of us share different things through many different networks. This can be quite a pain. There are many add-ons that tackle this very issue. However, the browser can make sharing easier by integrating sharing into the browser. If we know what social networks you use, by what passwords you’ve saved in Firefox, it should be pretty easy to enable sharing in Firefox.

In looking at this problem I’ve come up with the following design:

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Firefox Home Tab Concepts

As you may know, I’ve been doing a lot of researching and thinking about post Firefox 4 Home Tab during my internship here at Mozilla. I’ve taken the research I’ve conducted, my colleagues thinking, experience and ideas, along with my own experience and ideas and put together some wireframes. These sketches represent some very basic directions that we could take with the Home Tab.

It’s important to note that these concepts represent some very basic and rough ideas of what the home tab could look like in the future. These are in no way absolute directions, but rather provide some jumping off points for future work.

That being said, let’s frame these concepts a bit better.

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Perceived Speed Performace

Firefox is fast, no doubt about it. But for many people it feels pretty slow when starting up. Chrome, while only marginally faster than Firefox at starting, feels much faster. By analyzing videos of these start-up processes we can start to understand what makes Firefox feel slow.

First, last start with some definitions of browser start-up events.

  • Before Spinner: the time from when the user clicks the application icon to when the spinner starts running.
  • Spinner Running: the time while the spinner is actually running (may appear and disappear).
  • Before Window Draw: the time from when the spinner stops running until the window begins drawing.
  • Window Drawing: the time from when the window starts drawing until the title bar comes into view.
  • Drawing Title Bar: the time it takes the title bar to come into view.
  • Window Done Drawing: the time it takes for the window to draw after the title bar is seen.
  • Drawing Chrome: the time it takes for the browser chrome to be drawn.
  • Website Drawn: the time it takes for the entire website to be drawn (different websites used).
  • Close Window: the time it takes from when a users presses the close button on the browser until when the browser is no longer shown.
  • Active Icon Disappears: the time it takes from when the browser is no longer shown until the application is no longer running.
  • “Fresh”: brand new profile; standard set of plugins enabled: Acrobat, Google Update, Java Deployment Toolkit, Java(TM) platofmr SE 6 U20, Microsoft Office 2010, Shockwave Flash, Silverlight, WPI Detector 1.1
  • “Full”: fresh profile (only the history data used to create the 50 bookmarks below); standard set of plugins; 50 bookmarks (the 50 top alexa global sites); 5 tabs in the session (google, facebook, youtube, wikipedia, live.com); 2 common add-ons installed (ietab and adblock plus)

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