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Starting the Discussion: How to Make Mozilla’s Websites Better

As noted yesterday, there are many good things about Mozilla’s various websites, but the big picture of how they’re organized and work together leaves a lot of room for improvement. Entering our web universe can be really confusing for users, and the current setup limits the ways we can spread the word about all the stuff that’s happening around the organization and community.

So, to kickstart the discussion of how we might solve these problems, we held a public brown bag today to talk about the overall situation and how to improve it. Big thanks to everyone who attended and participated – it was really great to hear people’s ideas and input.

During the brown bag, I framed the solution as having four basic steps (none of which are easy, of course):
1. think about our sites as components of a larger network rather than a bunch of individual pieces.
2. tell our story effectively by making sure each site has a clear role and distinct focus.
3. group related content together so it’ll be where users can find it.
4. connect sites more effectively through cross-linking, UI elements, visual palette, etc.

More specifically, the central proposal that I put out there was that we should have a single Mozilla site (mozilla.org) that would focus on sharing the big picture of who we are and what we do, and would be a central hub for a bunch of product- and audience- specific sites to orbit around. As part of that, we would rename mozilla.com to more accurately reflect its current focus as the main Firefox product site.

The next question, then, is what to call that Firefox product site. For a variety of reasons (that will probably require another blog post to detail) my personal vote is to call it firefox.com, although there are certainly other options – mozilla.org/firefox or firefox.mozilla.org, for example. It’s an interesting discussion, although the specifics of the URL are ultimately less important than the overall goal of making our sites better.

Regardless of the name, though, there’s a lot we could do on this “new” site, such as integrating Firefox add-ons and support to create a single destination for all things Firefox. It would be a powerful communications vehicle for us, and a really useful resource for users.

Of course there are a ton of details that still need to be talked through, and some big questions to figure out. For example, where do key sites like Mozilla Europe fit into all this? Would this create an improper balance between the Firefox and Mozilla brands? What’s the right URL structure?

But, I’m confident we can answer those questions, and once we do the result will be a huge improvement for all involved: more relevant, accessible content for users; a clearer platform for communicating the mission; a better vehicle for talking about Firefox and other key initiatives like mobile, add-ons, services, etc. There are lots of really exciting opportunities, and I can’t wait to get started on them.

If you weren’t able to make it to the brown bag today (or even if you were), I’ve attached the full set of slides here, and Laura has put up a bunch of notes from the discussion session. The slides have way more detail than this this post, so please take a look and share any questions or comments in the comments section below. Thanks!

Update: David Boswell offers up some thoughts from the Mozilla Foundation perspective.

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