I’ve enjoyed following the thought pattern of Stephen regarding the major iteration of the Firefox user interface and experience here. This latest post walks through the general clean up of the title bar, menu bars, address bar, and bookmark bar in Firefox.
I must say that the new proposals for Firefox finally take the UI from a all-too typical layout to something modern, hip, and clean. A web browser should not interfere with the one task it is intended to perform: view and interact with web pages.
For normal browsing (and not development) I use Google’s Chrome browser nearly exclusively, and when I don’t use it, I switch to IE 8. That combo works well enough (and best handles sites that are more IE friendly than they are web-standards friendly).
I particularly like Chrome’s clean approach to full screen web browsing. Admittedly, having more than a couple dozen tabs open tends to make the tabs a bit unwieldy (I’ve got 44 tabs open in Chrome right now).
Compared to Firefox (one of the proposals and the current 3.5 shipping UI), the proposals definitely modernize the user experience of Firefox, yet not quite maximizing the web application experience like Chrome does so well (Firefox images grabbed from Stephen’s web site):
I’m not sure that the orange Firefox button is really necessary though for the average user (at the cost of a significant amount of horizontal and vertical pixel-estate). What kind of actions would users expect to find there? But more importantly, what would the UI for the drop down look like?
It would be a big failure if it was nothing more than a cascading drop down menu, for example, like I’ve configured in Firefox 3.5 with some extension who’s name I’ve forgotten.
Overall, I do consider this progress though, and appreciate the transparency of the design process with the next version of Firefox.
And I, unlike some of the commenters on Stephen’s blog, feel like it’s more important to make progress rather than be artificially held back by old designs, and not giving into lots of options and configuration choices which cater to vocal groups (so that they can never change). In this case, I’d follow Apple and Google’s lead (and even Microsoft’s to some extent when it comes to applications): make it good, make it simple, don’t put it lots of bells and whistles and don’t make it too configurable.