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Firefox's unusable minimalism problem.

Discussion of general topics about Mozilla Firefox
JAB Creations

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 8:19 am

Firefox is plagued by default by unusable minimalism. Non-internet-savvy people don't click on things without labels. Put the 'Go' back in the go button or scrap the entire Firefox 2 theme altogether to start off with a list of de-de-des.

It also wouldn't hurt to have labels on by default and to add obvious buttons such as downloads, new tab, and print in the very least. The common person will have no clue how to operate Firefox with it's unusable minimalism. I can't count how many people use Firefox with multiple windows!

Here is how I setup Firefox's toolbars for clients so they have the power to do what they would want to do if they knew what tools they had available...

http://img105.imageshack.us/img105/1217 ... arsoi9.gif

The "open pages in a new tab" option also needs to be on by default. It is not in 1.5 (not sure about the default in 2.0). What is the point to all the TAB features if normal people will never access them? That 15% barrier a lot of people are complaining about Firefox not breaching is because of the unusable minimalism issue.

Designers don't know how to design and there is a massive problem with either too much junk or an extreme reaction to the junk that follows up with extreme unusable minimalism. Let's see some usable minimalism please!

woodstock69

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 8:34 am

Picture Woodstock, 1969. Picture Firefox developers!

kryptonite

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 8:55 am

I'm using Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9a1) Gecko/20060914 Minefield/3.0a1 ID:2006091404 [cairo]

and can hover my cursor above each icon and get a description of what it is/does.

JAB Creations

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 9:09 am

kryptonite wrote:I'm using Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9a1) Gecko/20060914 Minefield/3.0a1 ID:2006091404 [cairo]

and can hover my cursor above each icon and get a description of what it is/does.


Titles are an advanced user feature. This does not help Firefox where Firefox needs the help.

My Left Hand

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 9:38 am

just wished you'd stop posting your opinion as fact.

JAB Creations

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 9:53 am

My Left Hand wrote:just wished you'd stop posting your opinion as fact.


Ask ten regular people who you've installed Firefox for (without customizing it) and post what they are doing with Firefox.

Do they have Java disabled to block viruses?

Do they use the bookmarks toolbar folder?

Are their bookmarks (much less their start menu) organized by them?

Do they know how to check if their kids have been surfing inappropriate websites using the history panel?

Do they understand Firefox blocks popups or do they still have a Yahoo toolbar or other useless toolbar installed for Firefox?

Do they type the address of a website in a search engine's search field?

I bet every penny that most non-savvy computer users don't really know what they are doing. Unlike those of us who frequent the forums these are the types of people who need to have the browser automatically setup for them from the start. The perspective of the people posting in these forums are not like theirs and thus your understanding of their perspective is with higher hope then that of which they will achieve on their own. People are still afraid of their own computers.

We (the people on this forum) have our preferences and know how to set them. They won't complain until something becomes more then just a common nuisance. Test and realize that even out of six billion people maybe at least one's 'opinions' will actually align with the truth.

Everything is easy if you know how. Assume they do not know how.

Nanaki
 
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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 10:44 am

My parents use the browser out-of-the-box and have no problem with it whatsoever.

Do they have Java disabled to block viruses?


No, and I don't either. Hey, you know, I (and they) haven't had a virus in over two years. Paranoid?

Do they use the bookmarks toolbar folder?


Hell no. But they don't care it's there, because in MSIE you had like 5x of them and they didn't even notice, heh.

Are their bookmarks (much less their start menu) organized by them?


No, not organized. Mine are also not organized. Point being?

Do they know how to check if their kids have been surfing inappropriate websites using the history panel?


What's next? Install a keylogger? That conservative no-freedom-or-trust-for-my-kids, I'm 101% against. Besides, if you wanna go American on your kids their ass, it's third party software that's recommended (prevention.)

Do they understand Firefox blocks popups or do they still have a Yahoo toolbar or other useless toolbar installed for Firefox?


Never heard a complaint. But the popup blocker could use some improvement, true.

Do they type the address of a website in a search engine's search field?


They used to, but learned on their own not to. And now they even use the search field to, heck, search.

You should do some usability tests and then reconsider your facts. Besides, that screenshot you posted: that's unusable.

JAB Creations

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 11:06 am

Nanaki wrote:My parents use the browser out-of-the-box and have no problem with it whatsoever.

Do they have Java disabled to block viruses?


No, and I don't either. Hey, you know, I (and they) haven't had a virus in over two years. Paranoid?


Not everyone goes to the same sites. They also have you there to take care of their computers and answer their questions. Most people do not.

Nanaki wrote:
Do they use the bookmarks toolbar folder?


Hell no. But they don't care it's there, because in MSIE you had like 5x of them and they didn't even notice, heh.

Are their bookmarks (much less their start menu) organized by them?


No, not organized. Mine are also not organized. Point being?


Some people are power users and if they don't like the options that are there they will know how to minimize things down to what they want them to be. It's a lot easier for most people however to see a "Bank" bookmark in the toolbar folder and that will aid their impression of Firefox rather then having to still look for it within an unorganized mess. Maybe your browser, your OS, and who else knows what is unorganized. My point is let's not add to the mess people don't know how to deal with by getting them organized in the first place.

Nanaki wrote:
Do they know how to check if their kids have been surfing inappropriate websites using the history panel?


What's next? Install a keylogger? That conservative no-freedom-or-trust-for-my-kids, I'm 101% against. Besides, if you wanna go American on your kids their ass, it's third party software that's recommended (prevention.)


Firefox needs non-technical selling points to break in to the non-savvy user market. Mac and many software companies (Lavasoft, Spybot, etc) use cookies as an excuse as selling points (even though they are invalid) in regards to privacy. To counter it's own point I would also suggest mentioning the clear private data option but you failed to use that in your rebuttal.

Nanaki wrote:
Do they understand Firefox blocks popups or do they still have a Yahoo toolbar or other useless toolbar installed for Firefox?


Never heard a complaint. But the popup blocker could use some improvement, true.

Do they type the address of a website in a search engine's search field?


They used to, but learned on their own not to. And now they even use the search field to, heck, search.


Why? Because you probably caught them doing it and straightened out the situation.

Nanaki wrote:You should do some usability tests and then reconsider your facts. Besides, that screenshot you posted: that's unusable.


Besides the lack of text labels on my bookmarks it's dam well usable and you can't refute that. You know (or should) that you can only delete the text from a bookmark after it has been created. Don't try to make sly points but rather meaningful suggestions.

Also have you check your access logs for referring words used to find your site (assuming you have or work on one?) I suggest you check your sources please. I don't bother to talk about things I don't know about or have evidence to support. Regardless of our disagreements thank you for staying on topic!

a;skdjfajf;ak

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 11:12 am

This is not a build issue or a request for feature - Can this be moved to General ?

The Ex Omega
 
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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 11:26 am

It should be locked. Its pure flamebait.

JAB Creations

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 11:27 am

Omega X wrote:It should be locked. Its pure flamebait.


That's your opinion.

Thumper

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 4:05 pm

Splitting the toolbars was considered over five whole years ago (indeed, it was one of the primary considerations in making a better toolbar) and then deliberately rejected by people who know what they're doing. I still harbour feelings for the toolbars being split by default, and for buttons for things like history and so on being on there, but after having recommended people to Firefox for four years and having not yet seen anyone failing to do common tasks efficiently because they have to aim right a bit when they type in a URL I have to say that the decision made seems to be perfectly fine for that portion of the userbase which never uses any toolbar button except Back (which is approximately all of it).

The way you've presented this thread isn't constructive. You haven't given any indication that you're better qualified that anyone else to declare what is and is not good UI, you've made bold proclamations with only minimal backup and you've done the stupid thing, which is claim that no novice users can use Firefox because of said UI flaws. This is patent nonsense.

The incredible thing is that I actually have my toolbars laid out almost exactly the same as yours and I can barely use the browser without. But that's because I am a serious Firefox power user who needs instant access to a variety of UI features which most people don't. I've come to accept that the majority of people don't need a history button any more than they need mouse gestures, because the entire concept is unnecessary for a class of Web surfers.

For a little bit of background reading, have a read at this. This was one of the documents that got me seriously hooked on UI architecture.

- Chris

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Post Posted September 14th, 2006, 10:52 pm

http://freeform.mozdev.org/mpt_spec.html

Does support a number of John's (the OP) 'needs' regarding buttons:
The Toolbar should the following buttons by default, in this order:

* Back
* Forward
* Stop
* Reload

* Home
* Search
* Bookmarks
* History

* Mail
* Edit
Beyond what that web page lists, I could see having a New Tab button; K-Meleon has buttons for both opening a new "Layer" and closing the "Layer" that is in focus, plus the Close Layer button has a Context Menu much like the Undoclosetab extension adds to Firefox, and is in Firefox 2.0.

My opinion is that this thread really belongs in either Features or Bugs fora, instead of here in Builds.


Ed
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be

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Post Posted September 15th, 2006, 7:51 am

JAB Creations wrote:The "open pages in a new tab" option also needs to be on by default. It is not in 1.5 (not sure about the default in 2.0). What is the point to all the TAB features if normal people will never access them? That 15% barrier a lot of people are complaining about Firefox not breaching is because of the unusable minimalism issue.


totally agree.
I said ages ago that at the very least the new tab button must be on the toolbar be default and the option you mentioned has to be ON by default. It seems nobody listens. It is the selling feature of the browser and yet it's hidden by default (to the unwashed masses - the very people that can and should be driving Firefox market share to record levels now.

Regardless of what the people that make these GUI decisions think, the general public is not that dumb. They will use and appreciate the new feature they discover this way - when they see it there on the toobar or see a link open up in a new tab.

I can't tell u how many real-world installs I've done where I've manually added the tab button (and changed that tab preference) and the discoveries were automatic and they were pleased. Others, where I haven't, NEVER use them. Undiscovered waste. Tabs, with extensions like Adblock with FilterSet.G, I can't tell you how much of an addiction this combo is to the masses. Tabs need some long-overdue default attention, if only to save me from getting RSI by changing options on every install of Firefox. ;)

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Post Posted September 15th, 2006, 8:58 am

I've been using Firefox "Out of the Box" since 1.0. Experience with a program, regardless of level of expertise is something which takes time through exploration and reading. Part of the problem with a lot of software is it "dumbs" people down. Microsoft has abused people's trust for years using this methodology.
I agree that maybe some quick action icons should be in the menu bar. But I put the printer icon there and still use the one in the drop down menu under file, it's what I'm used to. Most of this seems to be stuff you are used to using. Before Firefox I was used to Netscape and before The Linux distro I run now I was used to Windows 95 and 98se.
Half the fun of using the computer is discovery and it seems to me that Firefox is fun. If you go through development and design looking at reducing users skills you lead to things like Microsoft's hidden file systems and the inability to completely remove a software which you may find contentious but whose developers decided to leave on your system partially, for whatever reason.

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