September 6, 2004
Firefox has a grassroots marketing campaign underway where theyíre trying to get bloggers to add a Firefox button to their blogs. Asa Dotzler recently sent me an email asking me to participate.
We noticed and appreciate your repeated recommendations for Firefox at your weblog and we were hoping that you would further help get the word out by adding a small Firefox button to your blog. The image is hosted at mozilla.org and the code to add it is some very simple HTML. We depend on word of mouth (or of blog) and we appreciate your helping to spread the word with positive blog posts. If youíre interested in helping with this effort, you can find the buttons at http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/buttons.html.
Actually, I donít think I ever have recommended Firefox. I use it and do talk about it on occassion, but I think the browser has some way to go before Iíd recommend it to the general population. Something as simple as upgrading from one version to another needs to be seamless and not break things before Iíd suggest that everyone use Firefox. I understand why at this stage of Firefox development upgrades sometimes need to break things, but itís still not okay to the average user.
Aggressively marketing Firefox before it is a completely stable product is dangerous. Youíre running the risk of having people trying it out and being put off by the bugs, never again to return.
Other problems with the browser includeÖ
It doesnít entirely act like a native application on all platforms.
Popup blocking is sometimes over-aggressive. Popups launched from a positive user action (like clicking a link) should ALWAYS work. This is a tough one to get right, I know. And donít tell me about the whitelist. The average user isnít going to add lots of entries to the whitelist.
No ďGoĒ buttons next to the address bar and search bar by default. Many, many users need a button to click. They donít know that just hitting enter will do the trick. The Address bar and search fields are also too similar. ďWhy do I have two fields and shich one do I type Ďyahoo.comí into so I can start using the Internet?Ē Yes, I know you can add the button, but if I need a button, thereís no way Iím going to be able to figure out how to do THAT.
The launch problem in Windows ME needs to be solved. Yes, Windows ME sucks, but lots of people use it, and getting an error message everytime they click a URL shortcut in the OS is bad. Error messages are scary to the average user.
Firefox right now is very good for an experienced net user, but is not at all ready for the average person. If you plan on targeting the general public, you need to understand the general public.
Most Web users donít know what a browser is. That blue E they click on the desktop isnít a browser, itís ďThe Internet.Ē Or maybe itís ďYahooĒ if thatís what their home page is set to. Tell them to download a new browser and they donít understand what you mean. I put Firefox on my wifeís computer and removed the IE link. She asked why she didnít have My Yahoo on the computer anymore. My wifeís not stupid ó to her the IE logo is how she got to the Web. Without that, she didnít know how to get to My Yahoo.
Youíd be shocked how many people donít understand what a URL is and what the address bar is for. When they need to go to a site, they close the browser, re-open it so they get the MSN or Yahoo home page, and enter the URL into the search box. How about integrating the address bar and the search field? If what I entered isnít a URL, pass it to Google.
Itís time to stop thinking like developers and start thinking like users. For evidence that the Firefox team thinks like developers you donít need to go any farther than the Firefox home page. Letís look over that page and put ourselves into the userís shoesÖ
Firefox 0.9 is the award winning preview of Mozillaís next generation browser.
Whatís a preview? Does that mean I canít use it. Is it like a demonstration or something? And whatís a next-generation browser? I thought this thing was supposed to help me use the Internet.
View more than one web page in a single window
You have to be a serious power user to appreciate that feature. Many people only have a single window open all the time anyway. If they need another window, they close the first one.
Firefox keeps your computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls.
Whatís an activeX control? Whatís spyware? All I want is to stop getting all those stupid programs I didnít ask for.
Firefox is the most customizable browser on the planet.
Thereís that browser word again. What is it? And why would I customize it? Does that mean that this wonít work when I get it? Iím going to have to work on it to get it working?
Use the adaptive search system to allow you to search an infinite number of engines.
Why are they talking about engines here? I though this was something for my internet, not my car.
The new Easy Transition system imports all of your settings - Favorites, passwords and other data from Internet Explorer and other browsers.
I donít know what that means. Maybe if I get this thing, the way I use the Internet is going to change. All I want is a way to use the Internet without getting all that junk. I donít want to have to change my passwords and stuff to do that.
Uh-oh, now I know why I didnít understand all that stuff. This thingís something that programmers use.