Firefox Design Moving in the Wrong Direction

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-07-08 Print this article Print

5. Ease of use is gone 

Firefox won a lot of converts because of its ease of use. In previous versions of the software, folks could easily access menus, find bookmarks and generally enjoy the efficiency of the application. In fact, Firefox was arguably better than Chrome in terms of usability. But all that has changed. Firefox 4 has jumbled menus that aren't broken out any longer. Chrome users will feel right at home, but those who enjoy having easy access to top-level menus will find Firefox 4 shocking at first glance. Firefox 4 just isn't as easy to use as earlier versions were. And that's unfortunate. 

6. Moving tabs is a pain 

It might be a small issue, but the way tabs are moved in Firefox 4 needs to be improved before the software's final build is made public. In Chrome, moving a tab is a simple matter of dragging it from one place to another. Along the way, the other tabs shift, and it's easy to see where the tab is going. But in Firefox 4, that isn't the case. The browser's tabs don't move as a page is dragged across the bar, and the only help given to the user is a simple blue arrow that is too difficult to see in Windows 7. It's nice to be able to move tabs, but if the functionality isn't smooth, it will be frustrating to users. 

7. The design lacks intuitiveness 

One of the main problems with Firefox 4 is that its new design lacks the kind of intuitive design that users are looking for. There is a prominent address bar and the search box is still to the right of it, but with different options hidden both at the upper left of the page and to the right of the search box, too much moving around and clicking is required to find the features users really want. It seems that rather than develop a design that understands what people want to do with a browser and helps them do it more efficiently, Mozilla decided to lump everything together into a couple of menus. It's unfortunate. An intuitive design is central to a browser's success or failure. And Firefox 4 doesn't have that.

8. HTML5 is nice, but expected 

The addition of HTML5 support in Firefox 4 could be the browser's most desired new feature. Users will now be able to view content in the new standard no matter where they go on the Web. But excitement over the addition of HTML5 seems rather overblown. Yes, it's nice to have the standard Apple supports, but its inclusion seems like an obvious move on the part of a company that's trying to keep up with changing Web platforms. Firefox 4 was forced to support HTML5, considering that much of the competition already accommodates it in one form or another. It's nice to have it, but let's not get too excited about it. 

9. It's simple-to a point 

Throughout the process of using Firefox 4, one issue continued to pop up: The browser is far simpler than previous versions in some areas, but in others, it's far more complicated. In other words, Firefox 4 is very much a tradeoff experience. On the one hand, thanks to its prominent address bar and useful search bar, it's simple and a viable alternative to Chrome. But when trying to, say, look at a page source or just view saved bookmarks, it becomes far more complicated than it needs to be. This is a major design flaw that should be addressed in the final build. 

10. Future potential 

When it comes time to compare one browser with another, future potential must be considered. Although there is a lot of upside to Mozilla's Firefox 4, and it provides a great starting point for even better versions of the application in the future, Chrome has the most potential of any browser on the market. Not only will the software play a key role in Chrome OS, but it's fast, it's well-designed and there are several things Google can do to improve the browser far beyond any other program on the market. If future potential is a component in deciding which browser is better, Chrome wins.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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