Firefox 4 Design Challenge – The Home Tab

Mozilla Labs has announced their Winter 2009 Design Challenge. It is focused on improving the starting experience for the “Home tab” for Firefox users.

In the upcoming releases of Firefox, we’ll move the Home button to be a “Home tab” instead. We will keep the existing functionality where you can display a web page of your choice — or disable it altogether — but since we’re moving this page to live in Firefox instead of on the web, there are some interesting opportunities.

This page will have access to a lot more of the user’s information since it never leaves the browser — history, add-ons, bookmarks, and pretty much anything you can see in Firefox at the moment. This opens up a lot of possibilities, and we’d like to see what you can do with this new-found superpower.

I’m thinking this might be a fun design challenge to create a prototype and submit. The challenge has an explicit non-goal that is not to build a clone of My Yahoo/iGoogle/Netvibes, but to look at building something new. Something beyond the thumbnail/speed-dial interfaces we’ve seen in Opera, Safari and Chrome.

An explicit non-goal of this challenge is to design something like My Yahoo, iGoogle or similar start pages that let you put widgets/gadgets. This is not because we don’t think this use case is valuable, but we’re much more interested in what a browser start page can do with full access to the browser. An interesting example is something like the about:me extension, which shows you trends in your browsing habits. Unlike mainstream portals like Yahoo and MSN, the locally hosted Firefox home tab can potentially offer users an experience that is innately personal, and tailored to each user’s incredibly unique personalities and interests.

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  • davidcrow

    It also has me thinking about the Newsmap treemap visualization of Google News. But this is a visualization without data, the question is what data would you visualize for a personal start page?

    Mike Elgan suggests there are 5 tasks that the start pages are good at including:

    1. Capturing and categorizing links easily
    2. Sharing links with others
    3. Discovering new quality links
    4. Displaying and providing access to links efficiently
    5. Getting a current “snapshot” or “overview” of what's happening right now