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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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Life on Mars

For the final project in my Experience Design class, my team created a museum experience of what life might be like on Mars. My team started this project out by visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. We read multiple papers, and looked at research that had been done about Mars and what life might be like on Mars. From there we created a prototype experience and ran some user testing. We iterated and tested our design several times until we came to this final design. Although our design targeted families with children, we had a design constraint to be universally accessible. In order to better understand accessibility issues, each member in my team prototyped a handicap of some kind. The video also shows these disability prototypes, the insights we gained, our prototyping experience, and our user testing. In this video we attempt to show what the experience of our exhibit might be like for visitors.

I’ll be posting this design, along with more detail about our process on my site soon. For now, I hope you enjoy our final video of Life on Mars.

Life on Mars from John Wayne Hill on Vimeo.

Firefox User Experience

Firefox IconWoo hoo!

This summer (actually I already started) I will be working with Mozilla on the Firefox User Experience team. I couldn’t be more excited or happy. Firefox is a great product that has around 370 million users worldwide. This is a huge audience for which to design and will come with many challenges. I look forward to tackling these challenges head on with all that I have learned about design. I also hope to learn more than ever about designing in the real world, working with real people, on  stuff that will actually be in the world and used by millions. It’s scary as hell and I love it!

Reflection Thus Far

In thinking about the past (almost) two weeks, I can already seen how things have changed for me a bit. I’ve started to understand how UX teams might work in real world companies, specifically companies that are developer centric. Furthermore, I’ve started to understand the unique challenges that come with designing open source software. There are so many people involved, so many opinions, and so very many valid use and edge cases. It’s superbly interesting and a little overwhelming. I’m starting to look through my toolset and understand what tools I have that can best be used within a community such as Firefox. My colleagues (wow, that’s awesome to say) have blogged about some of these things as well. I work with really smart and amazing people. I’m very grateful for their help and support thus far.

You might want to have a look at what Alex Faaborg, Jennifer Borris, Aza Raskin, and Alex Limi are saying. It’s awesome!

The first week here I was a sponge, running around trying to soak up as much information as possible. It also happened to be an intensive work week where we had all of our remote people in the office. It was a really great week where I learned quite a bit about how things work at Mozilla and the direction that Firefox was taking. I also got to participate in many quick design meetings where we discussed and ideated on designs. Furthermore, I was able to give my opinion on some Bike Sheding issues and I really felt welcomed.

This week (my second) I’ve started my first project and helped the team on some other stuff. Limi and I filled a bazillion bugs for the Firefox Papercuts issues (see his presentation on the topic). So now I have a great grasp on filling bugs within bugzilla. My new project involves doing a good amount of research on what the next generation “home tab” might look like for the web. I really like this project thus far as it really allows me to stretch my imagination and think about the future of the web and how it can be better designed for people.

Mozilla Foundation Logo

So far, I’m having a great time. The Bay Area is fantastic. Mozilla is really great, and I love the people on the UX team. Plus I’m working for an organization that has a dino head for a logo. How cool is that!

Life is good.