New Approaches to an Old Challenge

Convincing people to download and begin regularly using an entirely new web browser is a pretty tall task for an online ad, which is why we’re always testing different approaches to see what works.

We recently asked Nobox to come up with concepts for two online ads around the themes of security and customization (key points of differentiation between Firefox and the competition). The ads started running a few days ago…my esteemed colleague David Rolnitzky has a detailed breakdown of the thought process behind them on his new blog, so definitely check that out.

Our main request to Nobox for the security ad was that it be very benefits-focused…in other words, communicate how browser security (or the lack thereof) directly impacts the user, rather than just making a generic statement about what Firefox’s security features are. For the customization one, we asked them to explore some non-technical metaphors (besides the somewhat played-out one of souping up your vehicle) that would help explain what add-ons are and how they can help you.

Nobox processed all that and came back with an interesting approach: cartoons. When they first proposed this I have to admit I was a little uncertain, but they quickly sold me with their specific concepts, which communicated our key points in a very fun and engaging way. I feel like it’s important to be serious about what we do, but also not to take ourselves too seriously, and to me these ads do a good job of doing that. Of course, online advertising provides very well-defined results so the users will have the final say!

The landing page for the security ad is below. You can see the other landing page plus the ads themselves on David’s site.

New Approaches to an Old Challenge

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Firefox First Impressions

Like the old commercial says, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With that in mind, David Rolnitzky and I have been working to improve the Firefox first run page with the aim of increasing the post-download user retention rate.

The previous version of the page was light on concrete ‘getting started’ information, so in the new page (which went live a few days ago) we wanted to provide a few quick tips on how to use some popular Firefox features. Our assumption was that if we can educate people on these features early on in their Firefox experience, they’ll be more likely to come back next time.

The big challenge was to provide this info in an easily scannable and non-invasive way so as not to delay people from actually using their new browser. To do this, we’re exposing just one tip at a time – the rest are discoverable through a series of pretty nifty DHTML transitions. We also focused on only four very easily understandable features and tried to keep the copy as short as possible.

This is obviously a crucial page in the Firefox new user experience, so we’re considering this the first in a series of tests. Right now it’s only available in the en-US version, but once we have a better idea of what works we’ll begin the process of localizing it for Firefox users around the world.

A screenshot of one of the panels is below, but I highly recommend viewing the actual live version of the page to get the full effect.

Firefox First Impressions

Thanks to Paul KimMike BeltznerChris Beard and Jay Patel for their feedback and advice on this page. Big thanks to Alicia Patterson for her design work and Steven Garrity for his DHTML wizardry.

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Addressing Firefox Retention on the Download Page

A few weeks ago, JT and Beltzner presented their 12-point plan for improving Firefox retention. David Rolnitzky and I were tasked with point #5 – “Improve download and first run pages”, so I’m happy to say that we launched a new download page earlier today.

As a bit of context, this is the page that users see after they click the Download Firefox button, and it remains up throughout the entire download process. So, rather than just showing a promo for a messenger bag (which is what the previous version of the page did), our hypothesis is that users will be better served by seeing instructions (with visuals) on how to complete the installation process.

We plan to keep testing and evolving this page over time, so consider this more of a work in progress than a “final” page. Obviously the use of screenshots complicates the localization process, so we’re just launching the en-US version now while we actively try to figure out the best way to localize these pages worldwide. In addition to the Mac page shown here, we also created XP and Vista versions, and other OS’s may follow eventually.

Update 9/4/07: Several commenters correctly pointed out that this page wasn’t always viewable from certain key browsers. That was a known bug at the time we launched the page, and I’m happy to report that it was fixed last week.

Addressing Firefox Retention on the Download Page

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