Firefox 3 “find” UI blunder?

I was searching for words within a page today using the new Firefox 3 on a Mac when I ran into what looks like a bizarre user interface blunder.  The “Next” and “Previous” buttons to find your search term on the page appear to be switched from the standard left=back and right=forward configuration.

I think it would be OK in the Japanese version of the browser (because Japanese is read right to left).  However, on all English versions of the browser the buttons should be swapped.

(Now that I think about it, the same goes for Spanish, French, German, etc…)

Am I crazy or is this really odd?

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10 Responses to Firefox 3 “find” UI blunder?

  1. Will says:

    Now that’s a good find. Let’s give them an extreme benefit of the doubt and assume their logic was to put the most frequently used button closer to the text box… at least this way you don’t have to move the mouse *over* the “previous” button which seldom gets used.

    For me, I just keep hitting enter to search forward, and shift-enter to search backwards. ~shrug~

  2. Dave says:

    Yeah, I was completely puzzled. I’m taking bets on whether or not the buttons will be correctly swapped when 3.0.1 is released in the near future.

    Any takers?

  3. G says:

    I’ll take that bet.

    In Firefox 2 they had that same ordering…the search box, then next, then previous. The difference is that in Firefox 3, they try to present it as two sides to the same button…a left and a right. In Firefox 2, they presented it as two buttons with arrows…a down arrow and an up arrow.

    Basically, I think they have to keep the order as search box, next, previous. But they need to get the metaphor back to being down and up instead of left and right.

  4. Dave says:

    Interesting. You’re right about the order of the buttons in FF2. I checked the order of the buttons on a PC and they are indeed the same as FF3.

    The notion of UP and DOWN must be more powerful than the odd positioning of the links in FF2.

    The connected “next & previous” buttons in FF3 really confused me at first because I instinctively moused over the button on the right without reading the text.

    I wonder if they did any user testing on that part of the interface. I suspect I’m not alone in my mouse confusion.

    Or maybe it really IS just me.

  5. Bill Shirley says:

    After you type something in and search, the next thing you want to do is hit next, so it’s closest to the search field (less to move your mouse).

    Previous is like used only very infrequently.

    Their relative locations is collectively saving us untold mouse movement a year. So, I’m with G; I’ll take that bet, Dave.

  6. Dave says:

    Bill, I agree that the most important button in the find-in-page UI is the “next” button. This makes sense with regards to Fitt’s Law. However, we’ve been trained like rats for many years to instinctively look to the right for new things and to the left for old things.

    Even our language presents words to us in that order. However, the “up/down” arrows in the FireFox 2 UI changed that concept. We understand that “new” stuff will be “down” the page, so the down arrow should be first. That makes sense.

    However, when they replaced the arrow icons with rounded buttons they lost the “up/down” concept of the page. Now we are left with the “left/right” concept to search and that intuitively feels reversed to me.

    Or am I crazy?

  7. Brian says:

    Dave, you may be crazy, but this is not evidence of it. Bill, your response on the other hand doesn’t do you much good.

    Previous is to the left, Next is to the right. Look at, oh say, CD player.

    I noticed this mistake on my own and went to see if anyone else found it. I’ll see if someone beats me to filing a bug. Considering how bad their UI is in so many places (the “awesome bar” is the “stupid bar”) I’ll bet they close the bug report and say it is perfectly fine.

  8. Cow says:

    I’ve used “Find” a fair bit on Windows and never noticed anything unnatural about the ordering. But I agree it does look odd on the Mac Screenshot you posted: probably because the two buttons are explicitly grouped together with a common border & highlight. Perhaps it would be better to split this into two ungrouped buttons/

  9. Jim Blandy says:

    To get completely distracted by a toss-off remark:

    Japanese is a confusing case, because both an English-like direction (words left to right, lines top to bottom), and a traditional direction (words top to bottom, lines right to left) are in common use. So clearly “next” should not be “up”, but just about any other direction would make sense in at least one context. Most Japanese I’ve seen on the web uses the English-like directions.

    Hebrew, on the other hand, does have words going right to left, and lines going down.

    Earth-shaking stuff.

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