Were all taught as kids that we should never judge a book by its cover. If you werent, then you should have a talk with your parents. Im going to choose to ignore this valuable lesson, though, and say the following for everyone to read: Firefox, youre kind of ugly.
I have three browsers installed on my system. I mostly use the Firefox nightly builds for my day to day browsing, but I also have Internet Explorer for random compatibility issues and Chrome for fulfilling my inner-geeks desire to tinker. I wish I could say that I also have Opera and Safari installed, but Opera tends to annoy me and Safari just runs like a dog. Id apologize to the Opera and Safari fans that may read this, but theyre just browsers, guys.
Anyway, Internet Explorer 8 (beta) looks as native as can be in Vista. Microsoft followed its own interface guidelines very well and created a browser that blends into Vista beautifully. Chrome, while not following the standards, is also very nice to look at with added animations that really spruce up the presentation and increase the initial wow factor. Then, we have the "ugo" of the group, Firefox. Its the only one to use a window menu, still. The default theme, even if you download an extension and remove the menu, looks like a cheap knock off of a Vista minded theme. It takes the Vista blue menu color and applies it to all of the toolbars at the top of the window. It just doesnt look right.
Right away, I know what you are probably mumbling to yourself. I bet some of you are even half way through typing out a reply lambasting me for forgetting the fact that Firefox lets me (and any other users) choose from a wide variety of third party skins so I can make it aesthetically more compatible with my own personal tastes. I tried that. I tried my hand at a few themes including a very nice Chrome theme. The Chrome theme, one that makes Firefox look almost identical to Googles little browser, actually slowed down performance of Firefox by a noticeable degree. Sorry, but I want the best of both worlds because Im simply selfish like that. It has to look good and perform well or it just doesnt count.
If youre still not following me, allow me to compare the three browsers in question to girls you would see in your every day ventures. Internet Explorer is a pretty nice looking girl whos slowly, but surely, improving her life. She can be a little ditzy at times, but shes good enough to get the job done. Chrome is that gorgeous co-worker who amazes people with her beauty, but loses them with her lack of talent. She can do the basics well, but theres nothing special beyond that. Firefox is the plain Jane girl. Shes not much to look at, especially when standing next to the other two, but she makes up for her lack of physical beauty with a nice amount of intelligence and the ability to adapt and grow with you. Of course, in public, you may deny that you even know her or, before going out, encourage her to throw on a few pounds of make-up to cover up your shame.
Before you beat me with sticks for insulting your favorite browser or collect as an angry mob and storm my apartment with torches because Im being sexist, you have to understand that I like Firefox. I wouldnt use it if I didnt like it. Im just not blind enough to lie to myself and say it looks good, at all. Sure, the Mac version is nice enough looking, but the Vista version is just horrendously ugly. Theres too much blue to be tolerable. There needs to be some kind of differentiation between the various aspects of the browser window and, overall, less bulk. Internet Explorer and Chrome have both proven that the window menu is no longer needed, so that should go first. Once thats kaput, lets color up that address bar with a new, sleeker design. Nothing gaudy is needed, just something simple like the other guys are wearing these days.
The guys at Mozilla can fix this. If they can manage to make a browser that makes a sizable dent in Internet Explorers market share, they can surely make that piece of software look somewhat presentable. There are hundreds of talented artists out there who contribute to open source projects all of the time. How about some of them get hired? You dont need to buy stock in Revlon or Versace to make that girl look good. You just need to get her out of her ten year old sweats and into something a little more modern and respectable. If you dont do it for her, do it for me, please. Until that happens, though, I hate to say it, but, Firefox, youre kind of ugly.
"Bang On" is a regularly occurring column written by Christopher Vendemio. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Neowin.net