Bringing Personality Back

We are about to start a project to create a new design for the site and we will need your help. There are no designs to look at yet, but we have started posting some information on the wiki, including a design brief and a feedback page for initial ideas and comments.

There hasn’t been a redesign in over four years and the current look does not reflect the site’s current role of being an entry point for the entire community. To fill that role the site needs to reflect the personality of the community, but right now the site doesn’t reflect much personality at all.

There are reasons why the site looks the way it does and it will provide some context for this new project to review past site designs.

A developer-focused site
1998: A developer-focused site

When launched in 1998 the mission for the site was to be a place to integrate the code and coordinate the activities of people creating their own products. Mozilla had no products of its own and users were not part of the intended audience for the site. The hack artwork and constructivist design fit this developer-focused community very well.

A brown product-focused site
2004: A brown product-focused site

As the community evolved, it started to create products that were intended for users and the site needed to evolve to make it easy for people to find, install and use those products. This change in focus is seen in the design—information about the products are prominently featured, much of the developer content is taken off of the home page and the previous visual design is replaced with a design that does not distract people.

A blue product-focused site
2005: A blue product-focused site

The brown product-focused site was soon replaced by a blue product-focused site, but the goal of the new design remained the same. Soon after this design was put in place though, the site was launched and served as the new location for presenting information about Mozilla’s products to users. For, this left a product-focused design but the site no longer had a product-focused role.

A community-focused site
2009: A community-focused site

Now that we are moving the site into its new role as an entry point for the community, we have a lot of freedom to bring a strong personality back to the design to reflect our community. The community has changed dramatically since 1998 though, so this is not just a matter of returning to the design as it was in 1998.

The community now is so much bigger (in both size and scope) than it was then. There are products being created, not just by Mozilla but also by a wide range of people using Mozilla’s code. There are also many activities going on that go beyond products and code, including design, education and philanthropy.

We don’t know what the new design should look like, but we’ll figure it all out with the community as we kick off this design project. Look for more soon.

5 thoughts on “Bringing Personality Back

  1. The things that immediately come to mind in terms of rethinking the design are perhaps centralized aggregation of our communication channels. Right now between planet,*, the wiki and irc, it is really easy to only get a fraction of the overall picture of Mozilla. We have some paragraphs explaining the various channels, but we aren’t currently syndicating or displaying a feed of the actual content.

    As you mention it would also be great to have clearer on-ramps for contribution to design aspects of Mozilla, which are just now starting to form, things like the creative collective, and (which we are hoping to get pulled together at some point).

    In terms of visual design, have you touched base with Tara at all to see what she is working on in terms of new branding work?

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