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Firefox for Windows 8 Touch(AKA Firefox Metro) was a touch-optimized browser designed from the ground up for Windows 8 platform. I started working on Firefox Metro since the first day the project was born. Firefox Metro released on Nightly channel to Beta channel from 2013 till early 2014. It was titled one of the best Windows 8 browser by laptopmag.com, including the best UI design.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

1. Embrace Windows 8 gestural language

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2. Designed for touch but cursor-friendly

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3. Constraint-based UI

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4. Reflect Firefox personality & branding

 

PROCESS

Prototyping for a new platform

During the first few months generating design concepts, I found it hard to simulate the W8 touch experience in a quick and dirty way, without building a functional product. In order to get the experience out and gain enough feedback to iterate, I created a Video Sketch of Firefox Metro using Keynote.

This prototype was produced early stage of the project in May 2012, thus some design details have evolved since then. The video prototype was extremely well received by the public with 68K views on Vimeo. I also wrote a blog post on Mozilla UX to explain the process of creating video sketch.

 

Usability Testing

In November 2013, I conducted a usability study of live version of Firefox Metro with potential v1 adopters (Firefox users who have Windows 8 devices). I set up a usability lab in a conference room and captured participant's gestures, face, and screencast. Each session included a Windows 8 usage interview, scenario-based testing, product reaction cards. The full report is available online: http://swipe.to/7697k.

 

Agile Collaboration

I worked closely with a team of eight engineers, one product manager, and one program manager in an agile & distributed environment. Metro team was the first Mozilla team that adapted agile development process in 2012. The process was tremendously helpful for milestone planning and keeping stakeholders aligned and informed.

I set up a communication channel with front-end developers, organized design spikes for future product release, invited stakeholders to observe usability study. As a result, those activities helped encourage stakeholders to express their opinions about UX and increase their engagement and sympathy with the product experience.

 

RELEASE UPDATE

Firefox Metro was successfully released to Beta channel. The product won a title of the best Windows 8 browser by laptopmag.com, including the best UI design. Since March 14, 2014, Firefox Metro was no longer available, due to lack of consumers on Windows 8 platform, see the official announcement from Mozilla. While it was an unfortunate decision for the product, I had a great time learning to design for this new platform and building something cool with a group of awesome people.

These awesome people are (by IRC names, the mozilla way):

  • Metro Engineering: ally, bbondy, emtwo, fryn, jimm, jwilde mbrubeck, mfinkle, rsilveira, sfoster, timabraldes
  • Product and Project Management: asa, kar, marcom
  • Firefox UX: madhava, mmaslaney, shorlander
  • QA: juanb, kjozwiak
 

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