Firefox is now the second most popular web browser in the world, with a roughly 20 percent share of the market, no small feat considering that just a few years ago most users didn't even know other browsers besides Internet Explorer existed. It still has a lot of potential growth ahead of it, though, but, with five browsers competing for users, Firefox will have to keep innovating while at the same time keep improving the user experience. Mozilla knows this, of course, so it launched a new project called Test Pilot to help improve the browser by taking advantage of its best asset, the community.
“Test Pilot is an opt-in program that everyone on the Web can join to improve the Web experience by participating in usability related tests,” Jinghua Zhang wrote on the Mozilla Labs blog. “As a Test Pilot, you will not only be able to try out the newest features and user interface ideas before anyone else, but also see and learn how those results may contribute back to the product design. For now, we will start the Test Pilot program with a survey to understand what type of Web users this pilot community represents.”
The program was announced at the beginning of this year and finally launched last week. The aim is to test new features and different interface tweaks to see which ones would bring the greater benefits in real usage scenarios. Mozilla wants to get a representative sample of about 1 percent of the Firefox users involved in the Test Pilot program and users with a varied background and technical knowledge.
Those interested in joining the program have to install the Test Pilot Firefox add-on after which they will be notified every time a new test is available. The tests will be varied in nature, from simple surveys, like the first test, to new products or features that have to be installed. After completing the tests users will have the choice of submitting the data and privacy is high on Mozilla's agenda for this new program. Users will also be able to opt out of the program at any time and review any data sent to Mozilla. The first new-feature tests will start to be rolled out soon.
The Test Pilot Firefox add-on is available for download here.