Firefox Preferences Redesign

Letting users lead a rethinking of Firefox settings section.

How might we apply user centered design practices to give users better control of their browsing experience?

My Role

Catalyst, Researcher, Mentor


Designers, Developers, User Researchers


Taipei/Toronto Timezone
Team new to desktop design


Card Sorting
User Surveys
User Centered Design
Tree Testing

         Firefox preferences section before the redesign

The problem and how it was solved

While user testing password management, I noticed that few users could locate much of anything quickly in Firefox Preferences section.

When the Taipei team was relieved of a major project, I proposed that we form a team to apply user centered design principles to the problem.

I conducted the initial rounds of “tree” testing to measure how quickly users could locate specific settings. Then designed a card sorting exercise to derive a user-centered grouping.

Performance of the original section, which also included time to first click

In order to understand how users perceived the groupings, we deployed a card sorting exercise to have them tell us which items fit together.

This dendrogram depicts how users grouped options.

Five variations of groupings were then tested to see which resulted in users finding a specific preference the fastest. We eventually settled on these five sections.

          The final candidates

I mentored the team weekly for the first half of the redesign, who used the research as a basis for the work which had multiple iterations documented thoroughly by Tina of the Taipei team.

I’m very proud of this project because I was able to set the direction early, remain grounded in user research, and hand off to a highly capable team who exceeded my high expectations.


Users were able to locate a list of commonly-accessed settings with a 36% increase in speed.