Feedback on Firefox's UX changes

As far as I can tell, there’s still no setting to suppress the unnecessary “default browser” prompts that were discussed over at (Firefox to regularly nag users to change their default browser).

That aside, after updating to the recent big release, Firefox launched a popup to showcase the recent changes, including an opportunity to change the theme color and (of course) the system’s default browser.
The problem is it cannot be dismissed (no close button or ESC key support) without toggling through all options, which are completely unnecessary as far as the browser’s correct operation is concerned.
Does Firefox break down into pieces when it’s not using someone’s absolutely best and favorite scheme color, or is not the default browser for even one second longer, that it requires to hold users’ attention hostage?

It feels like Firefox development is driven by marketing rather than user experience best practices, and the number of “default browser” users is displayed on a giant screen at your HQ like in “The Social Network” movie.

Whenever Firefox boasts about reducing unwanted notifications on web pages, it feels ironic, given that the browser’s users could use a similar solution to block unwanted notifications from Firefox itself.

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I clicked a button, I think it said Later, and the overlay went away. You’re saying if you do not click that button and instead engage with the options, there’s no other way to cancel out of it?

This line pretty much sums up what’s been happening to the continuous delivery of UI refreshes Mozilla has been putting down on Firefox in the past 2 years or so.

Mozilla appears to be making every effort for Firefox to appear more modern looking by giving it the ol’ MacOS gloss and shine but they aren’t doing that by ethical means.

The keep changing things that shouldn’t be changing and in the process also break things that used to work fine the way they were. I truly don’t understand why they bother anymore.

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“Signed up” just to step in and agree with you. Firefox development/management lately does not give a single damn about what’s left of its userbase. They’ve alienated the majority of users with these idiotic and unnecessary changes that literally nobody asked for. For example, randomly changing “close tabs to the right” to “close to the left” for no reason. And a “megabar” that looked like a tumor impeding on the rest of the toolbar, that somehow preferred a random google search to a local address I typed in minutes ago. And now, we’ve got browser-wide dimming just in case you can’t see a popup, because their users have no intention of multitasking apparently. Also, ridiculous floating tab button things that aren’t attached or, well, finished in my opinion.
I have to say thanks though, the smartest thing Mozilla did was leave their previous version archive accessible so we can still use 73 or an ESR that isn’t hot garbage.
Tell you what, Mozilla. There’s a preferences page for a reason. It doesn’t hurt anybody to let us make our own choices. You wanna destroy the UI? That’s your prerogative, just don’t force it down our throats.

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Not to get personal, but this is the umpteenth thread where I see specifically @jscher2000 asking a detailed question and not receiving an answer, and then no follow-up process or notices regarding the concerns in the thread. I’m not a Mozilla developer, yet even I can understand the specifics of the objections without having to ask further questions.

Is Firefox staff mining the forum, and they see someone’s concerns are rather shrill, and then they say, “Gee, we asked a follow-up question and user never responded. Mark this issue as dead.”

Is this what’s happening here? If not, can someone explain to the uinitiated what’s going on? Because I’m starting to see a pattern here.

I can’t and don’t speak for Mozilla.

I see two issues here:

(1) Nagging to set Firefox as the default browser.

I am not familiar with that bar. Maybe the adjustments made in the following bug (to minimize repetition) are sufficient?

(2) Colorways theme promotion overlay was confusing.

I think we are beyond this now, but if not, perhaps it is a mistake to set a new theme instead of asking whether to set it as people are not reading that panel carefully enough to avoid keeping it accidentally.

There might be a more general issue, but specific items are more actionable.

I believe the issue is not about “Later” not working or such (doesn’t look like there was a “Later”, at least at first or for some users), but how Firefox shows unexpected prompts that have to be interacted with to get rid of them.

If someone is completely uninterested in the feature, even a button like Later implies that the popup will appear again at some point, leaving users feeling they have no control.

And even if there’s a Not interested button that clearly disables the nag forever, that doesn’t address the problem of the usual controls being unusable (because they’re covered by the popup’s backdrop).

Forcefully changing the flow and ignoring all best practices that would mitigate problems this may cause (dismiss on ESC, click outside, etc.) transforms a reliable user interface into a whack-a-mole game, where you don’t know where the next button (that you’ll have to click to “unlock” Firefox) will be, or when the whole thing will happen.

Firefox already uses new tabs for release notes after update - users are familiar with how tabs work, so this doesn’t introduce any out-of-band controls and buttons that have to be visually located, text-read, color-read (because usually the Dismiss forever equivalent is the non-CTA button), i.e. no mental overhead (however small you consider it to be). Why not for all the other stuff, so the fancy announcement can be ignored or closed as any other tab?

The debugging of these problems itself is difficult because they’re so unpredictable (even re-installing won’t help because some things are a time-bomb to show after X weeks of usage), so as much as everyone would like to provide all the necessary screenshots, it’s just not possible.

I don’t know if this is truly the place where the developers may hang out, but I have some assumption that someone may have the means to dig into the code and find references (starting with language strings if nothing else, but I have no experience with this type of software).

Anyway, I saw this today:

While this doesn’t promote any particular feature, it’s in the same ballpark.

It may be difficult to understand the foundations of the problem, so imagine a computer novice (usually and older person): they know they can point to the URL bar, type something and hit ENTER, and the page just shows up. Now, every so often, there’s some popup that says something about Firefox (“what’s a firefox?”) or refers to some technical feature they may be unable to grasp.
Add up everything in the tech stack - not just the browser - and you have a steady flow of unnecessary and awkward phone calls to the person who set it up for them.
If you’re that person, and have done it a few times, you probably know better and go through all the options to disable things like this, and these days have no choice but to power-cycle everything a few times because of time-bombs that don’t appear outright, but after n-th start (so that all the popups, recommendations, and other crap can be dismissed by the tech person, rather than ending up on the screen of the less-experienced victim).

A straightforward way of addressing this is adapting a strict policy to always check Recommend features as you browse for all popups, questions, sparks, and anniversary fireworks - a no-BS mode, if you will.

To sum up:

  • people don’t like to be interrupted (power users in particular)
  • people don’t like unexpected behavior (power users in particular)
  • novices can get confused when there’s suddenly 10 buttons to interpret and choose (especially stupid if user interaction is actually unnecessary)
  • UX is hard, but as a user, if feels like there are no minimum standards at Firefox

We can rid the world of cookie banners, location requests, and push notifications about viagra, but we all have to do our part.

Does absolutely anyone realize how absurd it is that Firefox markets itself as a browser that blocks popups? Anyone? Hello?


Atlest now they have not now, not blocking the entire browser. well… this is a hard problem that need to be solved by one uncheck, disable marketing tools. done.