Firefox startup page

Matthew East mdke at ubuntu.com
Tue Apr 11 15:03:45 BST 2006


Apologies for sending this mail twice, but the first time, I sent it
accidentally before finishing it. Ignore that, this is the real one.

On Tue, 2006-04-11 at 08:42 -0500, Michael V. De Palatis wrote:
> Developers,

Hi Michael,

This discussion would be more profitable on the Documentation mailing
list, because the Documentation Team looks after that page, and there
are a number of documentation issues which arise out of what you say.
I'll cross-post this email, when you reply, please remove ubuntu-devel
and leave ubuntu-doc.

> Recently on ubuntu-users, there was a discussion about usability
> issues for new users. The original thread is located at
>
[ https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-users/2006-March/070874.html ]. Through the course of the discussion, some ideas were raised, in particular, that the Firefox startup page is somewhat lacking (see [1], [2], e.g.).
> 
> The current Firefox startup page is somewhat lacking in that it
> doesn't really help new users -- it only tells them the philosophy
> behind Ubuntu, which if they've gone through all the trouble of the
> install process, they're sure to already be well aware of. In that
> respect, the Firefox startup page seems rather redundant and useless.
> 
> Thus, I propose an overhaul of the current startup page. Rather than
> simply telling the user thing about Ubuntu that he already knows, the
> startup page should have, at the very least, links to frequently asked
> questions that new users have, such as, "How do I play MP3s?" Of
> course, these questions in particular should also include the reason
> why MP3s aren't playable by default, but since users don't really care
> (they just want to play their music), it would be nice to have it easy
> for them to quickly find out how to get it setup without having to
> search Google first (if they don't already know about the Wiki -- Yes,
> the current startup page references the Wiki, but that doesn't mean
> that Joe User will scroll down and see it when he sees "About Ubuntu"
> at the top and thinks, "I've already seen this.").

First of all, a question: are you talking about the start page in Ubuntu
5.10, or Ubuntu 6.06? The page has changed enormously in the latter, the
top three lines explain about Ubuntu's philosophy, and the immediate
next section deals with getting help with Ubuntu. This links to the
Official documentation (which explains clearly how to add mp3 support,
flash in the browser, etc), as well as the forums, chat support, and
community documentation (wiki). It then explains how to participate in
Ubuntu.

To be honest, I do not think that the firefox front page is a good place
for containing documentation, at all. Firefox is a web browser, and
Ubuntu includes a help view, accessible from the new (and excellent)
System->Help menu. The web browser's front page should be short and
simple. This is something we hope that we've achieved with the new page.

Now, users may not always see the help menu, which is why the "Getting
Help" section in the firefox front page is there.

It's very late in the release to change the front page: the
documentation is frozen now, and translation has begun.

Another really cool thing about the firefox homepage is that it will be
translated for Ubuntu 6.06: so users will get the information it
provides in their own language.

If you're not convinced, you should definitely join in the discussions
which will happen for the start page for future versions of Ubuntu.
Maybe we can draw up a specification for the next developers'
conference.

Matt
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