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Creating an Identity for the Mozilla Developer Network

We’re in the process of building the Mozilla Developer Network to be a useful resource for developers working on the various Mozilla-based software projects and the open web in general. Obviously, we can’t do this on our own, but with an IT support company in London like Mustard IT on our team, we were quick to get the ball rolling. It’s a big, far-reaching project so, as Jay Patel noted last week, it’s important that we establish a strong brand identity for the MDN. We have also been working on implementing a stock VPN solution into Firefox, but many keep asking us – is nordvpn good? Is it even fair to include an externally branded VPN solution? It’s merely an idea at this stage so there are still a lot of questions around it.

Anyway, the first step is to create a logo that will represent the MDN to developers around the world (and also look great on a t-shirt, of course). To do this, we’ve once again turned to the talented folks at Studio Number One and Webcreationuk, who last worked with us on the logo for the Mozilla Creative Collective, and this time again gave us their fair prices for website design. And, as usual, we want this process to be as open and participatory as possible…in other words, we need your help!

The intended audience for this logo and the MDN in general is most definitely developers. As Jay’s creative brief notes, “the MDN brand will serve to unify our diverse developer communities and represent the innovation we bring to the world through the people, products, and technologies that define Mozilla.” Beyond that, the direction was pretty wide open – the key thing being that the MDN logo would feel both connected to Mozilla’s identity and history, but also be distinctly separate as its own unique entity.

Posted below are some early stage design options from Studio Number One (including different variations on similar themes). At this point in the process we need to start focusing on one for further refinement. Which one should that be? What stands out to you and why? Try to envision these on a website, t-shirt, poster, sticker, etc and let us know what you think by Friday, February 19. Any and all feedback is encouraged.

Thanks!

Creating an Identity for the Mozilla Developer Network

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Browsing Without Borders

Today’s launch of the first-ever mobile version of Firefox is definitely a big deal. So, like we’ve done with other Mozilla big deals, we created a cool design to help celebrate the occasion.

To make it happen, we turned to our friends at the Royal Order and the Delicious Design League. After some discussion about what type of sci-fi direction the illustration should take (we settled on “philosophical and psychedelic”…think 2001), they came up with the artwork below.

You’re certainly encouraged to share this with anyone you think might enjoy it, and you can also download a larger version if you’d like to print a copy for yourself. Here’s to browsing without borders!

 

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Firefox 3.6, Mozilla.com and You

Firefox 3.6, Mozilla.com and You

Big news from the world of Mozilla: we released Firefox 3.6 today!

(I’ll pause for a moment while you go download it.)

As always, we made a bunch of site content updates in an attempt to convey the full awesomeness of the new browser. Here are a few of the highlights (Laura Mesa also has more details over on her blog):

* Personas: uplifting Personas from an add-on to the product was one of the biggest consumer-facing features in 3.6, so we made sure to cover that news in a variety of spots. Most notably, Tara Shahian and Mary Colvig masterminded a great video to show off what Personas are all about, and we added functionality in a few key spots that lets 3.6 users demo some sample Personas with a simple rollover.

* WOFF: another cool 3.6 feature is support for the new WOFF font standard, and we put that to good use by showing off the WOFF version of Meta on the newly redesigned First Run and What’s New pages.

* Security: keeping users safe is always a major priority, so we revamped the Firefox security pageto reflect all the latest goodness (including the plugin check – another new 3.6 feature). As an added bonus, the page also includes a new security-themed illustration…of a walrus teaching a squirrel to surf, of course.

* Customization: building on the new Personas content, we also created a new Customization pageto spread the word about Collections and other ways to personalize your Firefox.

* Download Pages: the various versions of the Firefox download page received a variety of content tweaks to support the key features and benefits of 3.6, and to roll out the “world’s best browser” messaging.

These projects (and dozens of others) wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of people’s very hard work. Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to the website portion of the release, including (but not limited to): Tara Shahian, Laura Mesa, Steven Garrity & silverorange, Tim Hogan & the Royal Order, everyone at Addis Creson, the Delicious Design League, Ivo Gabrowitsch & FontShop, William Slater, Melissa Shapiro, Johnathan Nightingale, Nick Nguyen, Mary Colvig, Alex Buchanan, Mike Morgan, Irina Sandu, Kohei Yoshino, Pascal Chevrel & the l10n community, Stephen Donner, Raymond Etornam, Jeremy Orem, Chris Blizzard, Ken Kovash, Rainer Cvillink, Mike Beltzner, Chris Beard, Sean Martell and more

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Building Online Communities: A Chat with Markos Moulitsas

As we work towards the upcoming launch of the Mozilla Creative Collective, a site dedicated to building our visual design community, I’ve begun reaching out to experts in various fields to learn from their experiences. Since the topic of community is always a hot one around Mozilla, I thought I’d share the conversations on this blog. For the first installment, I’m pleased to present a chat with Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos.

Moulitsas evokes strong feelings among people who follow U.S. politics: to those on the left, he’s a hero who galvanized the progressive movement and has helped get dozens of liberal candidates elected, and to those on the right he’s pretty much the worst guy around.

Whatever your political persuasion, however, there’s no denying that he knows more than a thing or two about building online communities. The Daily Kos attracts around a million visitors every day (much more during election season) and is an undeniable force in modern politics, and SB Nation – the network of sports blogs he co-founded – now includes more than 200 successful sites dedicated to practically every team in every sport.

Our recent conversation (held over IM) is below, with my questions in bold. Read on and enjoy…and many, many thanks to Markos for taking time out of his busy day to share his knowledge.

I read an interesting quote from you about open source: “Open source politics, open source activism, open source journalism — the aggregation of thousands on behalf of a common cause. Bloggers and their opinions might be mildly interesting, but the ability to pool our efforts on issues that capture the collective imagination is what really gets me excited.” That was back in early 2005…how has the open source movement changed things in the last 4 years?

We have a black president with the middle name of “Hussein.” That was kind of big.

Do you think that would have been possible without open source and the culture around it?

Nope. On Daily Kos, my copyright notice used to be “steal what you want” until someone pointed out that they could steal my trademarked name “Daily Kos” and get away with it. So I had to tighten my copyright notice a bit, but it still allows people to use whatever they want from the site for any reason. I don’t care about attribution or compensation, I just care about getting the word out. I think it’s an ethos that has allowed our little movement to grow exponentially at a time that traditional media, and their closed system, is atrophying.

You see that mostly in people’s desire for aggregation. The old media propensity for hoarding its content, and refusing to acknowledge or reference that of their competitors, made them vulnerable to people like me and Google News who are about giving people what THEY want.

It’s interesting how you see that same pattern repeating itself in so many areas – you could say the same thing about Microsoft and Mozilla, for example.

Of course. I wonder if anyone would choose a MS browser if it didn’t already come pre-installed on their PCs.

When you started the Daily Kos site, the whole notion of blogging and even building communities online was still pretty new. What were your expectations when you started the site?

None. The biggest liberal blog at the time I think was Atrios, and it was getting maybe 600 visits a day. There were some other “big” liberal sites like Media Whores Online, but they didn’t have traffic stats or comments. So, those of us writing at the time couldn’t possibly have expectations of anything. There just weren’t any examples of anyone striking it big with the medium.

What prompted you to start it, then?

Frustration that liberal voices were completely absent in the traditional media. As much as conservatives whine about “liberal media”, the post-9/11 media environment was one big infomercial for George Bush and his pet war in Iraq. For anti-war voices, they would purposefully find marginalized figures, like Janeane Garofalo. “Serious” people knew Bush was right and had to have unfettered power to do what he needed to do. And people like me scratched our heads and wondered where all the sanity had gone.

At what point did you start to sense that the site was moving from you just publishing blog posts to a genuine community of people? And was that something you had set out to do, or did it just happen organically?

Kind of instantly. I watched other political communities self-destruct. First was Delphi forums during the 2000 prez race, then a dude named Olivetti who quit. Then Taegan Goodard’s Political Wire which had comments at the time, then MyDD…and all of these sites were overrun by flame wars between partisans of both sides to the point their proprietors shut down the sites in frustration (well, not Delphi, they just became obsolete). When MyDD shut down its comments in late 2002, I think it was, everyone rushed over to Daily Kos.

Having learned from the failures of the others, I immediately announced that dKos was a progressive community, and that conservatives would be on a short leash. There was a lot of crying about “free speech” and whatnot, but I made clear that cons had plenty of places to go online – Free Republic, Lucianne, etc – and liberals didn’t, and that Daily Kos would be a safe haven for progressives. I aggressively cleaned out the conservative troublemakers, and what do you know, liberals liked their little safe haven

Having been through the process more than once now – both with the Daily Kos and the SB Nation sites – what would you say the keys to building a community online are?

A safe community environment, and patience. Like a city, if you grow too quickly, it fractures the community. The best growth is organic. Of course, the Huffington Post might prove otherwise, but I still believe very strongly in organic growth.

Can you explain by what you mean by ’safe’?

A place where like-minded folks can get together and discuss and argue about whatever their passions might be. For Daily Kos, that meant creating a place where liberals could gather without being harassed by people who wished them ill. For Sports Blogs, that means Red Sox fans talking and debating their favorite team without dealing with heckling from Yankees fans…and vice versa.

What about disagreements among people in your community? People who might be in the same general ballpark politically, but start name-calling or causing trouble over smaller matters. Or, in my case it might be a matter of someone saying something like “Your design sucks…you don’t know what you’re doing.”

That’s an entirely different problem. At Daily Kos, we’ve sort of ignored that stuff, though now we have a “director of community” — a longtime trusted editor — who is becoming more proactive in engaging in such disagreements before they spiral out of control. But yeah, people are ruder online than they’d be meeting in person, and it’s certainly a challenge for any community.

Do you have any general tips or advice you’d give to people looking to build communities online? What should or shouldn’t they be doing?

That’s a tough one, since I’m not sure how much of my success has been luck, and how much has been skill, but finding a niche that isn’t oversaturated is key. At SB Nation, we’ve been more successful in markets without well-established players. If someone has the juice, it’s tough to come in and build success. Even in 2002, when I started, the Bush-bashing blogosphere was full enough. My niche was elections, and I did that well enough that it kick started the site.

Second, look for a spark that will kick you off. For me it was the Iraq War. I was a rare vet in the political scene able to intelligently speak about military matters from personal experience, so I benefited from my informed commentary at the time and people gave me respect due to my military background.

Three, (and there aren’t in any thought-out order), be patient. Unless you are Arianna Huffington with a few tens of millions to throw at marketing efforts (and an amazing ability to get booked on every show imaginable), things will take time. At SB Nation, we’ve found a 1-2 year ramp up period for our successful sites, and that’s with kick ass community-centric software driving those sites.

Four, have good technology. Lots of off-the-shelf tech will get you off the ground, but at some point, you may want to think about how to best serve your own unique community. Originally, I thought about trying to save on the development of the next version of Daily Kos by borrowing heavily from development work on the SB Nation platform, but then realized both types of communities had HUGELY different needs.

Five, despite what I’ve said about my importance vis-a-vis community, you have to have a strong commanding voice that makes people want to return and hear more. People originally came to Daily Kos because I offered combative electoral analysis with an edge, and eventually stayed because of the community.

And lastly (I think), the way your site looks is important. Brand. When I started, I’d go to a site, read something interesting, and then forget what it was so I couldn’t return. All the sites looked the same, blue, using stock templates, etc. With Daily Kos, I had memorable imagery — the flag guy, the vivid oranges, etc. Lots of people hate the site’s coloring, but damn if it isn’t memorable. Daily Kos looks like nothing else on the web, and that strong branding has been a huge help in not just building my intitial audience, but building the credibility and respect that has helped grow it.

That’s really great advice! Going back to the concept and ideas of open source, what happens next? In terms of cultural, political, social impact, that is.

It just happens. I know old media is desperate to try and find a way to halt their decline, and have all sorts of crazy ideas and strategies, but in the end, the world changes and if you don’t adapt, you perish. Since open source is in essence a reflection of the popular will (people are directly engaging, bypassing traditional gatekeepers), it will always remain relevant. It’s up to other institutions to adapt to changing norms to try and stay relevant. Apple has been very good at this, Microsoft not so much.

I’m in the midst of a grounds-up redevelopment of Daily Kos that will hopefully be even more empowering to my community. If it was just about me, the current site gives me all the pedestal I’d ever need. But, the community can always do more if it has the right tools, and so I’m embarking on this major (and dangerous) project to try and give them even more ability to shape the direction of the site.

Care to share any hints on what that’s going to be like?

People want to be empowered, and open source allows that. It’s why we’ve seen so many successes in that realm. I can either try to ignore that trend, stand in its way, or embrace it. Currently, community members are limited to just a single diary a day, everyone shows up on the front page, even if just a few minutes, and they’re unable to work together without using outside tools (like Google groups, etc).

DK4 (the new version, due out in Q4) will allow people to host their blogs on Daily Kos (like blogspot), create group blogs, and there’ll be tools for internal communications and collaboration. So, no limits on writing, but at the cost of front-page access — the recent diaries list would scroll faster than a stock ticker. So we’ll have tools to find the best material and feature it on the front page (and some of that stuff in even more prominent positioning than is currently the case). Some of those tools will be software, others will be human editors.

It’s a very community-centric upgrade, which makes me excited. I long ago learned that my success doesn’t stem from my own writing, but from my acknowledgment of the power and importance of community.

This has been really interesting stuff, and I appreciate it a lot. I know others will really enjoy reading this as well – thanks for all the other words of wisdom.

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Building a Mozilla Visual Design Community

The Mozilla community has achieved more incredible things than I can count, and includes experts dedicated to disciplines ranging from software development to customer support to marketing to QA and much more. But, one key area that’s traditionally lacked an organized community is visual design.

Art is such a powerful form of communication, and over the past 11 years we’ve built up such a large body of iconic Mozilla imagery, that building a true community around it seems like the next logical step. Helping make this a reality is one of my biggest goals for 2009, and between our efforts so far on the Mozilla Creative Collective and the cool stuff happening around Personas we’ve already made some great strides toward that goal (with much more to come!).

So, with all that in mind, I’m really excited about our new partnership with the folks at Infectious. As Jay Patel announced yesterday, we’ve teamed up with them and their own community of artists to create a series of pieces inspired by Firefox. To help celebrate the upcoming 3.5 release, this artwork is available in a variety of formats, including iPhone skins, laptop stickers, car decals and more at the Infectious site, plus t-shirts and personas. Definitely check it out.

At the start of this project we gave the artists a series of classic Mozilla & Firefox values – community, innovation, idealism, open source and performance – and asked them to interpret them in their own styles. It was really fun to watch these talented artists use these basic themes in such different ways to produce such diverse results.

And, we’re just getting started. Next month we’ll team up with Infectious again to launch an open design initiative based around the same concepts and ideals listed above. It’ll also coincide with the beta launch of the Creative Collective site, which will be another huge step forward for our growing community (much more info on that coming soon).

Lastly, big thanks to the five artists – ZeptonnDavid LanhamEtsu MeusyReuben Rude and Paulo Arraiano – who contributed their talents to this project. Really inspiring stuff.

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World’s Fastest Clapper, Meet World’s Fastest Firefox

Note: I just announced the launch of our Fastest Firefox community marketing project over at the Mozilla Blog. Here’s a crossposted and slightly expanded version:

Firefox 3.5 will be here soon, and it’s shaping up to be by far the fastest Firefox yet: more than twice as fast as Firefox 3 and 10 times as fast as Firefox 2.

That’s a fact worth celebrating, and to spread the word we’ve reached out to some of our fellow Guinness World Record holders, each of whom knows a few things about speed. Our first record holder is Kent “Toast” French, whose ability to clap his hands 721 times in a minute (averaging 12x/second!) officially earns him the title of the world’s fastest clapper. Along with his son Joshua, Kent put on a truly astounding display of in honor of Firefox 3.5:

We know that Kent isn’t the only person in the global Mozilla community with a talent for speed, so if you want to help tell the world about Firefox 3.5 here’s what to do:

1. Make a short (30 seconds, max) video of you doing your speediest skill. It doesn’t matter if it’s making a sandwich, changing a tire or mowing your lawn…it just has to be fast.

2. Visit www.fastestfirefox.com and follow the easy instructions on how to upload your video to us.

3. We’ll be editing the best submissions into a compilation video that really shows off what our community is capable of, so check back about a week after the 3.5 release. If we use your clip, you’ll get a Firefox 3.5 t-shirt plus, of course, worldwide fame and the satisfaction of helping the open web.

In addition to Kent and the other record holders (more on them soon), this project came together because of the effort and talents of the very worthy people listed below. Big thanks to:

Elise Allen
* Catherine Brady
* Alex Buchanan
Fran Capo
Pascal Chevrel and our truly amazing team of localizers
Delicious Design League and The Royal Order
Stephen Donner
* Alix Franquet
* Steven Garrity
* Mike Gauthier
* Paul Kim
Nicole Loux
Nobox
* Jeremy Orem
* Krupa Raj
Tara Shahian
Melissa Shapiro

Can’t wait to see your speedy videos!

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Mozilla Creative Collective: Logo Complete!

The Mozilla Creative Collective is a newish project designed to organize and grow our budding visual design community. When the site launches later this year it should be a pretty awesome place for designers to share their work, make new connections and help spread the word about Firefox, Thunderbird and the other Mozilla products.

Of course, any visual design community needs a cool logo, which is why we asked Studio Number One to help us out. And, any open visual design community needs to get people as involved as possible in processes like these, so I’ve been posting each round of the comps for everyone’s feedback.

After all that, we finally have the *official* Creative Collective logo (see below). I’m really happy with how it turned out…big thanks to Studio Number One for their work, of course, but we also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dozens of people who offered their comments (both good and bad) along the way. This is a great example of what an open process can achieve…your input had a tremendous impact on the final look of the logo. Thank you!

So, what’s next for the Creative Collective?
* Main thing right now is to nail down the full scope and functionality of the site. We’re putting the final touches on the wireframes with Airbag right now, and Tara will be sharing some details soon on some of the features we’ll be including to make participating in the Creative Collective as fun as possible.
* After wireframes, we’ll move on to the design…will be interesting to see how the logo ends up influencing that.
* Then, Ryan Doherty and our amazing WebDev team will have to build the site…no small task, but they’re more than up to it.
* If you want to follow along (and contribute along the way), then sign up for our email list or follow us on Twitter. Otherwise, just get ready to flex those creative muscles!

Mozilla Creative Collective: Logo Complete!

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Announcing the Mozilla Creative Collective

As I’ve mentioned in the past, building up Mozilla’s visual design community is one of my (and Tara’s) top priorities for 2009. There are already designers out there doing good work, of course, but the larger scale possibilities are nearly limitless if we get more organized and continue to bring more people into the fold.

With that in mind, I’m excited to announce the Mozilla Creative Collective. The idea is to build on what we started with past projects like the Firefox 3 T-shirt Contest and the Community Store by creating an online hub where our community activity can take place.

In some ways this is inspired by the concept behind wartime propaganda posters (although I should be clear that this is neither war nor propaganda): using widely distributed and well-made art to convey a message. In this case, we want to make it possible for people to cover the web with art inspired by Firefox (and other Mozilla products). We also want to create an online social environment where designers and non-designers alike can connect and collaborate in a positive, communal atmosphere.

Right now we’re still in the planning stages and are dreaming big. One way we want to encourage participation is by building in functionality that allows for regular design challenges. For example, we might issue a challenge to create art that represents Firefox’s speed, with the ‘winner’ to be determined by the ratings provided by others in the community.

Another component would be a job board of sorts, where non-designers can request design work for their Mozilla projects. The idea is that a student in India who’s hosting a download party at his college’s computer lab could request a design for a promotional flyer and have it be created by someone in, say, Poland. Then, that design could be posted publicly and be reused by community members for their own campaigns.

You can read more details about our plan on its wiki page. It’s ambitious and will be a lot of work, but should be a fun process. We’ve enlisted Airbag Industries to help us design the site, and of course the amazing Mozilla Web Dev team has proven time and time again that they can build literally anything that we can dream up.

Lastly, if you like the sound of this and want to be more involved with the Mozilla visual design community, I highly recommend signing up for our mailing list. I’ll be blogging more about this project, of course, but the list is a good way to stay very up-to-date on all the latest happenings.

That’s it for now…more to come!

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Calling All Designers, Doodlers and Other Creative Types

The term ‘community’ gets thrown around a lot at Mozilla, and with good reason: the community really is Mozilla. Without it we never would have built a browser that went from zero to 20% worldwide marketshare in just four years, we never would have served up one billion add-on downloads and we never would have set a world record with the Firefox 3 launch (among many other accomplishments).

So, following the successful examples of our developers, localizers, marketers, QA testers, etc we’re going to be making a major push to organize and grow our visual design community. I’ll share more details soon – including our plans to create a new site for posting and sharing your artwork – but if you’re curious to learn more the first thing to do is sign up for our new design mailing list.

Of course, there already is a Mozilla design community – just look at the 3,500+ people who participated in our Firefox 3 t-shirt contest or Google around for Firefox art – but there’s so much more that can be done. This is an entirely new way we can put our greatest advantage to good use, and we should get a lot of cool stuff to look at, too. The possibilities are incredibly exciting.

In the meantime, here’s that mailing list link again (we promise not to spam you!). More to come…

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Mozilla Goes Green

A bunch of Mozillians are up in San Francisco today as part of our involvement with the SF Green Festival. It’s certainly a new type of conference for us, but when you look at the core values of the various other affiliated organizations there are a lot of commonalities in terms of trying to affect change through community building and grassroots action.

We’re also using this as a platform to communicate our “100% organic software” concept, so from a design perspective this gave us a great opportunity to use one of my favorite elements from the Mozilla.com redesign: our little family of egg illustrations. They’re so bizarre and yet, so perfect.

We worked with designers Monique Johnson and Rhonda Spencer to create egg-based collateral that included a print ad for the festival guide (below), landing pageaffiliate buttons (available for download) and more.

There will be Mozilla-related activity at the festival all weekend long, so if you’re in the area definitely stop by and check it out. Mary has a good overview of the details up at her blog.

Mozilla Goes Green

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