March 15th, 2011

UX improvements in Firefox 4

We’re in the final stages of preparing Firefox 4 for release, here are some of the things the UX team has been working on in this version that are worth checking out

With Firefox 4 right around the corner — we might have the final release as early as next week — it’s a good time to take a quick look at some of the user interface and user experience improvements in the release. There’s a million (only slightly less, really) improvements in Firefox 4, and other blogs and our own fantastic engagement team will tell you about the other great improvements — but I thought I’d publish this quick “changes we think you should take a look at” post for those of you who can’t wait.

New look

As you probably know, we have an entirely new look across all our platforms — Windows, Mac OS X & Linux/BSD. Among the improvements:

Firefox 3.6 vs Firefox 4 on Windows 7:

Firefox 3.6 vs Firefox 4 on Mac OS X:

…and since I don’t have a Linux setup available for screenshots right now, you’ll have to trust GNOME and Linux hacker Jeff Waugh on this one:

More efficient menu

New single-access menu for Windows 7, Vista & Linux, which was adopted by Opera (and in a similar vein, Chrome unified their two menus into one, too) soon after we put our original designs online1 — they managed to ship before we did, which is fair game — and a side effect of doing designs in the open!1 And for the record, we think this is great — everyone wins, and we get a better UI in all browsers when this happens!

Faster, faster, faster

In addition to the impressive speed from our new JavaScript and HTML5 engines and making use of hardware acceleration, there are a lot of improvements in Firefox 4 that make the user experience much faster, especially when it comes to starting your browser:

New functionality

There’s a lot of new functionality in Firefox 4 too, here are some of our favorites:

Streamlined

Some of my personal favorite improvements in Firefox 4 are a collection of small tweaks and improvements — there are many, many — and they add up to a significant amount of saved time and reduced friction while using the browser:

& lots more. But I promised this overview would be quick, so I’ll end it here. There’s lots of goodness you should explore by downloading and testing it on your own!

We’ve already started on Firefox 5, 6 & 7 designs under our new accelerated release schedule, and can’t wait to show you what’s next for Firefox.

Now, go download Firefox 4RC already!

Comments? Find me on Twitter. Looking forward to hear what you think about Firefox 4!

Alex Limi is VP of Product Design at Highfive , a company that is transforming the way you work. Previously head of Firefox UX & Product Design Strategy at Mozilla , designer at Google & co-founder of Plone .

“No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.” —Marion Levy