Is Copying Chrome Taking Firefox in the Right Direction?
I saw a stat today that suggests Google Chrome's market share may pass Firefox by October. A quote from the report got me thinking:
There is also a new innovation initiative to bring back a perception of a browser that not only copies features Chrome is pioneering, but lives a culture that delivers unique new features.
Yeah. Copying features from Chrome. The first two things that came to mind were two of the things I like least about Chrome (which are part of the reason I still primarily use Firefox).
Tabs on Top
By default, Firefox now, like Chrome, puts tabs above the address bar. While this is perfectly logical (after all, the address being displayed is the address being shown in the tab -- it's logically odd for clicking a tab to change the address above it), it's annoying from a usability standpoint. I have to move my mouse farther to switch between tabs.
If I frequently clicked the address bar, I might feel differently. But I don't. I type Cmd-L (or Ctrl+L if I'm on a PC) to go there without having to touch my mouse.
Fortunately, Firefox gives me the option of turning off "tabs on top" (it's in the "View > Toolbars" menu). Please, don't take that option away from me guys.
No Traditional Menu
On the Mac, thankfully, since there's always going to be a menu bar on the screen, neither browser maker has decided to slim down the number of options on it. But on Windows, by default, everything that used to be on the menu bar is now crammed into a single "Firefox" menu on the title bar.
I get it. You want to save space. And for most of the menu items, that'd be okay. But there are a few that I use regularly: bookmarks, history and tools. And I don't want to have to go through and extra click-and-find-the-submenu to access them. Not to mention the fact that I can't even find where some of the stuff from the Tools menu has gone (like the link to launch S3 Organizer).
Which raises a weird question: why not just move all the menu items into the Firefox menu, organized just as they are? Why rename and rearrange there? I guess they weren't happy with the old organization, and decided this was a good opportunity to change it.
Again, thankfully, I have the option to bring the menu bar back (it's at "Firefox > Options > Menu Bar").
The Basic Principle
The problem with both of these changes is that it make it more difficult for me to access things that I click on often. If you want to squirrel some of the minor features away somewhere, that's fine. But please, always remember this basic principle: the things that are accessed most often should be most accessible.