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New Firefox support site targets your mom

By Shirl Kennedy on August 08, 2007 (3:00:00 PM)

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The alpha version of Mozilla's community-driven Firefox support site offers how-to and troubleshooting documents directed toward new users -- a crucial audience if the browser is to capture and maintain additional market share.

"Our target reader is someone who does not know how to use about:config, or add a toolbar button, without instruction," explains the Best Practices for Support Documents, on the new Firefox Support Contributor home page. "This means each article should not only provide answers, but instructions, and assume the user has kept all settings at their default values. In general, try to write articles in such a way, that your mom would understand."

Now, granted, some moms -- and dads -- are tech-savvy and wouldn't use Internet Explorer (IE) anyhow. But as an alternative application, Firefox has to overcome a huge wall of resistance. IE comes installed on every Windows PC; users who want something else have to make an effort to find it, download it, install it, and get it up and running. And just because someone uses a computer at work, where there is probably on-tap tech support, doesn't mean he or she wants to bother messing with an alternative browser at home, no matter how compelling its features or customization options.

Recent numbers show that Firefox has been declining slightly in market share -- from an all-time high of 15.42% in April to 14.37% in July. Mozilla sees user-friendly online support for Firefox as a key element in attracting more users.

The existing content on the alpha support site is the result of strong Firefox community input, says J.T. Batson of the Mozilla marketing team. On his weblog, he asked that current users give it a try. "We need your help to kick the tires of the new site and to tell us whether or not you think the content will be helpful for the average Firefox user."

This being an alpha site, there is still more work to be done. Batson mentions a need for more article writers and editors; the initial call went out last month. Have a look at the formal Firefox Support Requirements Document, and if you think you can help, head on over to the registration page and get started.

Shirl Kennedy is the senior editor of the DocuTicker and ResourceShelf weblogs, as well as the "Internet Waves" columnist for Information Today. She has been writing about technology since 1992.

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New Firefox support site targets your mom

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.72.129.159] on August 08, 2007 04:40 PM
"We need your help to kick the tires of the new site and to tell us whether or not you think the content will be helpful for the average Firefox user."


The point of this site is to not target the average Firefox user. The average Firefox user knows too much about browsers. The site should target the average computer user, and maby even the lower end too ;)

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Re: New Firefox support site targets your mom

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.81.218.10] on August 09, 2007 10:32 PM
Agreed. Even as an experienced user, finding where a particular development team has put various options is often difficult. And I'm willing to hunt for them. New users don't even know what options are available.


As an easy initial step, the support site should have a cross reference between options and how to navigate to them. The sorting could be based on 1) feature set, 2) alphabetical, or 3) popularity. This is not only useful, but doubles as an advertisement.


Secondly, I have never felt that Edit/Tools/whatever -> Preferences is intuitive. An entire menu of Settings makes a lot more sense and will be seen even by new users. I would include Downloads and Add-ons here because they are really related to configuration, not browsing.

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Re: New Firefox support site targets your mom

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.236.163.214] on January 10, 2008 07:03 PM
So this is for the "Fisher Price - My First Web Browser" type :)
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New Firefox support site targets your mom

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.176.24.76] on August 10, 2007 07:52 PM
From the installation instructions:

"You will be greeted with a welcome screen. Click Next to continue."

Nice to see that they want people to read the license and accept its terms before installing the software.

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