When Developers Conduct Usability Testing

I do not know whether the Firefox developers performed any serious usability testing with their Australis interface. I suspect not. I suspect mostly the frustrating philosophy of “maximizing screen real estate” affected their design choice.

Those developers messed with my Firefox usability.

The Firefox developers eliminated the menu bar. Easy to restore but not intuitively discoverable. Call me an old crony but I like a menu bar.

The developers moved the toolbar icons to the right. Probably most Firefox users never thought twice about that choice because the majority of people are right-handed. While I am right-hand dominate and not fully ambidextrous, I use my left hand more than most right-handers.

When computer mice first became popular I immediately noticed a work flow challenge. Right-handers have to release the mouse to write. Within only a day of using my first mouse I switched to using a “left-handed mouse.” That is the term used for swapping the primary and secondary mouse buttons. Because I use my left-hand more than many people I adapted easily. I have used a left-hand mouse for almost three decades.

As a left-hand mouse user, when the Firefox developers moved all the toolbar icons to the right side of the app, the buttons all were on the wrong side of the screen.

So much for usability testing — if there ever was any such testing with the Australis design.

Developers should be encouraged to explore new ways of doing things. They are always wrong when they dictate to users their own preferred choices. The only correct development model is to always provide users the final choice.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Firefox, General

Next: Left-Handed Mice

Previous: The Presumption of Unlimited Bandwidth