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(Read an introduction to productization at L10n:Productization.)

Firefox Mobile is a mobile version of the popular Firefox desktop browser. It shares much of the code with Firefox (e.g., the HTML rendering engine, bookmarking and history, download and add-ons management, and JavaScript engine) but uses a different user interface, which is adapted to the mobile contexts in which it is used.

The mobile context spans both the hardware and the situation in which the user operates. These are very different from what we observe and know from the desktop experience and Firefox. To name just a few key differences:

  • screen: much smaller on mobile devices,
  • user control and input: touchscreen, on-screen keyboard, finger instead of the mouse cursor,
  • use cases: for example, quick reference look-up, price comparison, closest restaurant or ATM (in these examples the browser is used for an ad-hoc and quick information retrieval).

Similar to Firefox desktop, Firefox mobile ships with a set of default search engines. These are adapted to the needs of a mobile user. Below you'll learn the criteria used to identify these search engines.

The compatibility criterion

Services included in Firefox Mobile must render correctly on mobile devices, assuring good readability, and ease of interaction.

The compatibility criterion is important, because it lets us use Firefox Desktop’s guidelines as a base and adapt them to the mobile context. In other words, Firefox Mobile’s productization should follow the desktop version’s guidelines, making exceptions when the compatibilty criterion is not met. It thus goes without saying that Firefox Mobile should ship only with services that meet the compatibility criterion.

A few examples of effectively breaking the mobile user experience:

  • a Flash-based ad covering a significant area of the website which is difficult to close/discard (due to very small close button),
  • a non-standard input element with no accessibility fallback, which makes typing text into it difficult or impossible,
  • websites detecting a small-screen device (which as a practice is not bad) and offering a broken layout.


4 standard search engines

You should choose only 1 search engine in each of the following categories:
  • Global general search
    • ‘Regular’ global general search, much like in desktop Firefox.
  • Reference search
    • Almost all of the time, this will be Wikipedia.
  • E-commerce search
    • Both to shop online and to consult product information.
    • Stores are preferred over auctions.
  • Social search
    • i.e., microblogging platforms/feeds, social networks, etc. (no invite-only sites).
    • Only if relevant in the region.

1 extra search engine:

You can choose to use this if no e-commerce/local/social search is available.
  • Specific interest search
    • Something specific to the region, reflecting the local way of using the Web.
    • Can be from different categories, for example:
      • reference (a dictionary or a word reference recommended),
      • entertainment (imdb, youtube, music search),
      • e-commerce (price comparison),
      • Local search (e.g., “around me” search),
      • general search provider very popular in the region, etc.

The maximum number of search engine plug-ins is 4. Each search engine should be chosen from a different category, as listed above. In rare and well justified cases, we might go for 5 plug-ins total—the fifth one would be then an engine from the additional specific interest category. You can add a specific interest search engine also if there is no e-commerce, local or social search that you would recommend for mobile Firefox for your locale. Or, you can choose to go with fewer plug-ins, which is totally fine, too.

To help decide which search engines to choose for each category, use the following list of criteria, similar to what we use for all productization components across all Mozilla projects, augmented by the compatibility criterion:

  1. User experience
    1. Mobile compatibility
    2. Search quality
    3. Clean and easy-to-use interface
  2. Relevancy
    1. Popularity in the region
    2. Usefulness for locale’s users

More reading

You may want to continue reading about the above guidelines, the rationale and objectives behind them, on Stas's blog: