How People Use Firefox

Jason Kottke points to Alex Faaborg‘s interesting discussion of how people use Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

firefox-heat-map

In the heat map we can see that the menu items that are used vastly more than all others are the user’s bookmarks, copy and paste.

I use copy and paste all the time, of course, given that I spend a large chunk of my online time writing blog posts.  Interestingly, however, while normal users use the bookmarks menu more than anything else, I seldom use it at all anymore.  I’ve got maybe a dozen items on my taskbar menu — two thirds related to blogging tasks — but otherwise use the URL window and its auto-complete function or the Google search function to find most sites.   I find it quicker to type in “nyt” and click than to scroll through the bookmarks for the New York Times website.

Regardless, the Firefox developer team is apparently taking the study to heart and working to change the browser accordingly:

For the common edit commands like Undo, Cut, Copy and Paste, we are looking into possibly placing these directly to the right of the Firefox button, but only when the user has focused a text field. The benefit is that they are even easier for mouse-based users to access, while maintaining an otherwise streamlined design. The downside is a slight amount of peripheral visual noise as they appear and disappear, which we may try to mitigate with a very light visual design.

We are considering grouping extension menu items that otherwise would appear in the tools menu together into one area at the bottom of the Firefox menu to make them easier to find.

Ten years ago, I loved innovation in software design.  Nowadays, though, I’ve become such a creature of habit that I find most changes aggravating.  (I still hate Office 2007, for example, finding it much less user-friendly than Office 2003.)   Frankly, I’d rather Firefox developers invest their time in making their browser suck less — that is, not crash constantly for no goddamn reason — than tinkering around with the location of menu items.   But maybe that’s just me.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Frankly, I’d rather Firefox developers invest their time in making their browser suck less — that is, not crash constantly for no goddamn reason — than tinkering around with the location of menu items.

    That is why I am boycotting BOTH the census and Firefox.

    They are typical examples of liberal ineffectiveness.

  2. rodney dill says:

    but otherwise use the URL window and its auto-complete function

    I do this most of the time too, though I’ve typed ‘out’ and hit return too quickly for outsidethebeltway to expand, far more times than I’d like to think. (… it gets you to http://www.out.com)

  3. John Burgess says:

    I’ve simply never, ever used the Firefox menu for cut-and-paste! I either use a right-click on the mouse or keyboard Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V, whichever happens to be easiest at that precise moment.

    I do, on the other hand, use Bookmarks constantly. I try to keep my bookmarks organized in folders to make access quicker, moving the most frequently accessed ones toward the tops of the lists. I’ve also a couple dozen on the Bookmark Toolbar, but those are the ones I use several times a day.

    Next-most-often is probably the Tools menu to get to the add-ons that go out of date every time Firefox updates itself. That is a nuisance that almost pushes me away from Firefox. If another browsers offered the same/similar add-ons, I could bolt. That’s not yet the case.

  4. capital L says:

    Does anybody else happen to use the Vimperator Firefox extension?

    Who needs menus or toolbars when you’ve got 101+ keys (and a thrilling capacity to forget some of the most crucial keystrokes…)?!

  5. James Joyner says:

    I’ve simply never, ever used the Firefox menu for cut-and-paste! I either use a right-click on the mouse or keyboard Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V, whichever happens to be easiest at that precise moment.

    I usually do the former but hardly ever the latter. There are times when I have to use the browser cut/paste in that the specific application I’m in (especially the Atlantic Council’s Drupal backend) won’t let me do an ordinary paste.

  6. Django says:

    Frankly, I’d rather Firefox developers invest their time in making their browser suck less

    Exactly the reason I switched to Chrome a year and a half ago and never looked back.

  7. Eric Florack says:

    I use copy and paste all the time, of course, given that I spend a large chunk of my online time writing blog posts. Interestingly, however, while normal users use the bookmarks menu more than anything else, I seldom use it at all anymore. I’ve got maybe a dozen items on my taskbar menu — two thirds related to blogging tasks — but otherwise use the URL window and its auto-complete function or the Google search function to find most sites.

    Same here.
    And like yourself, my tendency is driven by blogging. I find that bookmakring stuff isn’t quite as productive as is simply dialing up the tend engines…(Say, Memeorandum, for example) and going from there. Mostly because of their lack of usefulness I find organizing bookmarks anymore to be a monumental waste of time.

    I do tend to use the keyboard shortcuts almost all the time, now, though, a habit developed in Widnows V3.11