March 27, 2008

The AMO Experience

The new version of AMO (addons.mozilla.org) went live overnight:

Basil and Morgamic have already blogged about it, and what's new, but I wanted to pipe up and add my congratulations to the AMO/webdev team, AMO editors, and localizers for the really tremendous effort that's gone into overhauling the site.

This release is particularly exciting for me, partly because the wireframes and interaction-model for the site were the first things I worked on when I arrived at Mozilla. Also, though, because alongside the re-skinning and reorganization of the site, I think we've managed to improve the user-experience of finding and installing add-ons in a number of interesting ways:

  • Being smarter about version compatibility
    In the past, a user has had to check to see whether the current version of his wanted add-on was compatible with the version of the browser he was running. I suspect that most users don't really know what version of the browser they're running (especially in a world with auto-updating) - nor should they have to! Comparing numbers is one of those tasks for which we have computers in the first place.

    We've built some logic for this into the new "Add to Firefox" buttons — we detect what you've come to AMO with, and present you with more human-friendly options:


  • Making search more prominent

    A majority, or very nearly, of people looking for add-ons will search for them. In the past, our search field and controls have been hard to find. There's no missing it now:


  • Making it easier to see preview images
    For a user browsing through the add-ons catalog, there's really nothing that delivers quicker understanding of what an add-on does than screenshots. A preview image is now a prominent part an add-on's listing, wherever it shows up; thumbnails of an add-on's preview images are visible at a glance on its details page; and users can bring up full size versions of each thumbnail (and advance through a slideshow) without ever navigating to another page.


There's more that's new, of course, and Basil's post does a great job of itemizing them.

Between the new AMO, the recent additions to the Add-ons Manager, and cleaning up the install process (a clearer install confirmation dialog and doing away with the install whitelist), I think that it will never have been easier to customize Firefox with add-ons.

Posted by madhava at March 27, 2008 01:57 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Why would I want to see search results that didn't work with my version of FireFox? With the latest nightly, hardly any of them match. Why should I see long lists of extensions that don't work to find the few that do?

Posted by: Aubrey at March 27, 2008 04:12 PM

Aubrey -

We may well want to have a switch to only show compatible add-ons, I agree. For the moment, though, the huge majority of the problem is because most add-ons aren't flagged as compatible with nightlies, and never will be. It should be less like that for a beta, and much less like that once Firefox 3 is out and add-ons have caught up.

Posted by: madhava at March 27, 2008 04:23 PM

Anybody know why I get "Download Now" when I'm logged out, and "Add to Firefox" when I'm logged in?

Posted by: FP at March 27, 2008 04:27 PM

Using latest nightly that is.

Posted by: FP at March 27, 2008 04:29 PM

Since an older version of an add-on might have a security hole, or a leak, or something bad, do you really want to be allowing/encouraging users with older versions of applications to take that risk (on top of risks they might be taking by using older versions of the applications)?

Posted by: Smokey Ardisson at March 27, 2008 05:49 PM

This new version is far from efficient.

The home page do not list the new and updated release.

Modules classed by dates do not show the date.

The older version was easier to use for finding new version of modules.

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Posted by: gary at March 27, 2008 06:21 PM

I'm missing one important information: Which versions of Firefox are supported for a given add-on?

Really bad timing. I wanted to check my favorite add-ons to see how far they are and if I can switch to FF3 as soon as it is released.

Posted by: Stefan Scholl at March 29, 2008 04:15 PM

Copy of email sent to http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/author/pkim@mozilla.com:


Hi,

I was disappointed to see that comments are not allowed at http://blog.mozilla.com/blog/2008/03/27/mozilla-add-ons-site-redesigned-available-now/. A curious decision for a supposedly user-focused, web-based company....

With regards the new addons site design - I'm not impressed, like many others.

* where are user comments? This was an extremely valuable source for communicating with user and devs. This must be reinstated ASAP
* preventing installation of addons which have not been bumped for current version is just stupid. I now need to change user agent string to install addons in to FF3 beta. Provide a warning but don't block installation
* supported version is no longer displayed. Why would someone decide to remove this?
* locating 'Advanced details' at bottom of screen serves no purpose, it just makes navigation disjointed. Also, developer comments, home page and changelog are hardly 'advanced'
* it seems changes have been made for the sake of change. Changing UI without clear and compelling benefit is bad - see Vista. Was any user testing done before this was released? I find it hard to believe there was....

These are just a few criticisms from the hundreds pouring in at http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=642440.

Madhava Enros: "... I think we’ve managed to improve the user-experience of finding and installing add-ons in a number of interesting ways."

What are these 'interesting' ways? I don't want 'interesting'. I want useful, transparent, click-reducing, value-added. I see little evidence of this, and many changes which have harmed the user experience, as detailed above. It's unfortunate that his website is called 'egotism', because that could be one explanation for the poor redesign.

Regards,

David.

Posted by: DavidONE at March 31, 2008 10:37 AM

Hi, I have registered and logged in to download an experimental extension. But it was not possible, instead Mikogo Add-on, it downloads a html file with this content:



The add-on you're looking for is in the sandbox, which you do not have enabled in your user preferences.



The add-on you're looking for is in the sandbox, which you do not have enabled in your user preferences.


This is a bug, because there is no checkbox "Show Sandbox" in My Account. Please fix

Posted by: Georgi Gochev at April 3, 2008 04:30 AM

The new site feels dumbed down. At least show what versions an extensions works with, instead of just saying that it doesn't work. And why do we have to register just to download something? Do you want to make it cumbersome for users to get extensions?

Posted by: Steven C at April 4, 2008 07:27 AM

"At least show what versions an extensions works with, instead of just saying that it doesn't work"

EXACTLY!

I am not planning on upgrading to ffx 3.0 until I know that all my major extensions are compatible. I need to know what versions are acceptable for any given extension.

Please, please, please, bring this back!

Posted by: Steven Lloyd at April 6, 2008 02:03 PM

Overall I think the new sites looks good, and I like most of the changes. But when I am developing extensions, that "Add to Firefox" button has caused me a few problems.

Right now I'm running 3 version of FF: 2.0, 3b4, and 3b5. Here are a couple problems I've run into:

1. I was trying to download Spectator. At first I tried with 2.0, because I didn't realize that Spectator was for FF3 only. But then when it didn't work with 3b5 either, I was really confused.

2. Sometimes I just want to download the extension, either to see how it works, or maybe to see if I can get it working with the latest beta. I ended up having to resort to using wget to do it. It would be nice if there was a direct link to the XPI somewhere that I could right click and "save link as."

Posted by: Patrick Dubroy at April 10, 2008 04:48 PM

I think teenagers shouldn’t be allowed here. They don’t have a clue about life, why are they trying to look smart?

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