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Moving the Needle

Visual design can be such a subjective thing that it’s always nice to get some quantifiable data that either validates your approach or suggests ways to improve.

Recently my esteemed colleague David Rolnitzky did a little number-crunching and found that the redesigned and reconfigured Firefox 3 first run page has so far been more enticing to visitors than its Firefox 2 counterpart. That’s good news, because as the initial page that new users encounter when they launch the browser, it’s an important one to our retention efforts.

Of course, most people who hit the first run page just want to get started with their browsing, but it also gives us a great opportunity to present the concept of add-ons (through our Get Personal page) or introduce them to interesting sites that show off Firefox 3’s capabilities (through our Getting Started page). The more familiar people become with these ideas, the more likely they are to become regular Firefox users.

The older version of the page was centered around providing some quick tips on how to use the most basic Firefox features (like tabs). From May 1 to June 16, 96% of the people who visited this page exited without clicking any additional links.

Firefox First Run page - panel #1

When we redesigned the page for Firefox 3, we worked with Mike Beltzner and the UX team on reconfiguring it so it would be less about the features and more about giving you a few simple options on things to do next. From June 16 to August 22, this version of the page saw 90.3% of the visitors exit, with 4.4% clicking Getting Started and 2% clicking ‘learn more’ to access Get Personal.

Firefox 3.0 first run page

Although a ~6% improvement may not seem huge, when you consider that millions download Firefox and visit this page every month, that’s actually hundreds of thousands of additional people who’ve been introduced to useful concepts like add-ons.

So where do we go from here? We have further site optimization ideas in the works for the rest of the year, so stay tuned for details on how we’ll be continuing to refine this and other key pages on Mozilla.com. And if you have suggestions of your own, please don’t hesitate to let any of us know.

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