I’m super-late to this but wanted to shoot the link out there since I’ve also written about this before. Over on evilbrainjono.net, acknowledgment that Firefox updates are driving users away from the browser.
In particular, I love this paragraph:
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the fundamental disconnect between the developers and the users. I think it comes down to: Software developers have a perverse habit of thinking of updates/new releases as a good thing.”
[Edit] Jono also has a follow-up post with some juicy bits. My favorite:
“… Let me revise my statement: Rarely is a UI change such a big improvement that the efficiency gain from adopting it outweighs the efficiency loss from relearning. Designers tend to overestimate the benefit of a change and underestimate the importance of habituation. That’s what I was trying to say.
“Look down at your hands. Are you using a DVORAK keyboard? Why not? It’s theoretically more efficient, right?”
I think Chrome has it right here, the user generally never realizes the browser is being updated.
Scott – I absolutely agree. (And Jono makes that point as well.)
For me personally, it’s less of a pain that the UI changes a bit. The state of the art in web browser UI hasn’t changed all that much, and while I prefer the cleaner look that Chrome has, UI changes in Firefox never bothered me that much.
What drove me absolutely bonkers was the fact that the browser wanted to relaunch with every update, and that updates often broke plug-ins. If the plug-in API were more solid, and if they paid more attention to backward-compatibility I may not have switched.
But at this point winning me back to Firefox will take either a monumentally awesome update that leapfrogs Chrome, or a sizable f*ck up on Google’s part, or both.
Users can be fickle, as they should be. I’m no exception.