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FireFox 4 First Impression: It Sucks

I downloaded the new version 4 of FireFox and installed it on my 1 GHz Asus Eee PC Netbook.  I have to tell you that I am extremely alarmed by what I see.  The very first thing that caught my eye was that although FireFox was describing this version as faster, it was noticeably slower on my lil’ netbook.  That does NOT bode well for me.  On top of this, I just plain hate deceitful advertising.  My web pages were loading at least 1/2 speed.

What struck me next was the new interface.  Why is it that developer’s ignore design?  Why is it that when guy does one thing another guy has to follow suit? Since when does Mozilla jump into a “Monkey see, monkey do.” attitude.  This is pure idiocy!

When Microsoft’s IE8 came out and misplaced the refresh/reload page button to the right side of the browser address bar, it was Internet Explorer’s death knell.  This was such a huge user interface navigation mistake that it helped usher in a new age where FireFox became the predominant browser of choice because so many people were absolutely frustrated with the IE8 interface that moved everything around where no one was used to them.

Guess what?  Mozilla does not want FireFox 4 to be a familar tool that works well, anymore.  They have decided to follow suit and copy IE8’s pathetic user interface by hiding all the most often used controls in plain sight.  Once again, the page reload button is relocated to the right of the browser’s URL address bar.  This gives me great pause, to realize that corporations are so secure in their knowledge of what is best for us in terms of the human interface experience.  So I wonder whether it will be Google Chrome or Opera that we migrate to?

Safari has already made the jump to a right side refresh/reload button, so I don’t think that they will ever be a factor in the browser wars until the iPhone becomes a significant web browsing platform.  And it just may, they already dominate the smartphone market.  Furthermore, I think that the impact of small device web browsing has not yet been felt.  Mobile device web browsing is, afterall, not yet in the hands of everyone.  Nor is anyone making it affordable for everyone, yet.  But once someone realizes its potential, we will all be jumping on it because it is so convenient, in order to accommodate our growing digital lifestyle.

Why is placing the refresh/reload button on the other side of the address bar such a navigation nightmare?  This practice is breaking simple user interface friendliness guidelines.   The issue is not that the button has been moved to the other side of the browser bar, the issue is that the user interface has not been moved to the other side of the browser bar with it.  The forward, back and reload buttons offer the most used rudimentary control over surfing.  To separate any of these navigation devices simply decreases their convenience.  To not understand this one aspect of the user’s navigation interface experience is quite simply shamefully stupid.

There will be those who will take issue with the last three lines in that last paragraph.  Their argument will be that all a user has to do is type a return in the browser bar.  But what they fail to realize is that not everyone is like them.  Not everyone thinks or does everything the same way and the complete failure to either understand or provide for these alternate minded people is complete insanity.

Let’s face it, we have been doing things certain ways for years.  People are accustomed to them.  They are used to clicking buttons, they are used to finding all their navigation in the same area.  It makes no matter that “Instead you can…” that is not an argument, that is an excuse.  Navigation, whether on a web page interface, or in a software interface, should never be separated.  Especially when it all performs a simple derivative of the same function (GOTO: back a page, same page or next page).

Developers are thinking logically while creative types are thinking creatively.  For an anal mind to dictate how a user interface is setup without consulting a creative mind shows true lack of vision for the big picture.  Straight out of the box, FireFox 4 not only fails to impress, it offends me.  Don’t get me wrong, I am only speaking for me.  But it does.  It fails to take into consideration any alternate view of navigation or user friendliness.  It separates the navigation buttons and discombobulates the system, completely.  I, as a designer of friendly interactive web page navigation systems myself, consider this UI a sinful, evil thing.  It amazes me that they would ever allow this interface to ship as it is.

OK, there it is, my first impression after downloading, installing and running the new version 4 of Mozilla’s FireFox.  It just plain sucks.  It looks like crap and it scares me because it makes assumptions on what I need and takes liberties with a user interface that worked.  In my view, it is less useful and extremely unfriendly as a user interface.  My web pages all load slower now, and that also ticks me off. I am not impressed.

That’s my first impression.  FireFox 4 sucks.  I hate it.  But that is only after my first impression.  Mozilla says that it is completely customizable.  That will be my next post, can we fix this piece of crap?  All it really needs is a few tweaks.  Or is it completely broken?

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Brands, Computing, Devices, Graphic Design, User Interface eXperience, Web Design & Development | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments