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The 'Back' Button the Most Clicked Firefox Icon 267

Posted by timothy
from the whatchu-clickin'-about-willis? dept.
darthcamaro writes "How many times did you click the 'Back' button in your browser last week? According to a new study from Mozilla, it's likely that you clicked 'Back' a whole lot. 'Across Windows, Mac and Linux 93.1 percent of users clicked the button at least once over the course of a five-day period. In total the study reported that users clicked on the back button 66 times over the course of five days. The next most used button is the 'Reload' button with 73.2 percent usage and 22 clicks on average per user over five days. Other areas of the main window that were heavily used include the Search Bar where users input search queries. The study found that 67.9 percent of users used the Search Bar for an average of nearly 16 clicks per user over the course of five days.'"
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The 'Back' Button the Most Clicked Firefox Icon

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  • Why it was made big (Score:5, Informative)

    by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:04PM (#32781118) Homepage

    Old news. This is why they made it bigger in 3.0.

    • by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:19PM (#32781300)
      I never use the back button. I hate having to wait for pages to load/render/whatever, so I got in the habit long ago of opening most links in new tabs so they load while I'm reading something else.
      • by spazdor (902907) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:53PM (#32781578)

        Sometimes links won't open in a new tab because they're implemented with some Flash and/or Javascript fuckery. When this happens, I just regular-click on the link and then middle-click on the 'back' button - thereby opening up the previous page in a new tab instead.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          When this happens, I just regular-click on the link and then middle-click on the 'back' button - thereby opening up the previous page in a new tab instead.

          I didn't know that, spazdor. Thanks. That's a good one.

        • by berwiki (989827) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:18PM (#32781822)
          If I had mod points, I would have modded you up purely for using the word fuckery. Bravo.
          • by Barny (103770)

            Would have been a tough one, was it informative for the tip, or was it insightful because of the use of fuckery or just plain underrated?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by voodoowizard (1557839)
          Ahhh wow, I never tried that middle mouse button... damn that is nice. You just opened up a new world for me and I have been using FF for years. Learning is fun.
        • by mysidia (191772) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:38PM (#32783068)

          Yeah, but oftentimes with the flash quackery, the back button doesn't work anyways.

          Breaking the back button is one of the most serious design mistakes a webmaster can make. Since, as we can see from just these observations about FF, the back button is one of the most frequently used functions by a large majority of surfers.

      • by Threni (635302) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:11PM (#32781738)

        I hate Back taking ages cos it's reloading the screen. It's in memory - just show what you showed last time. I don't care that it might have changed. No, I don't want you to resend the message - just show me the bloody page you showed me just seconds ago before I accidentally clicked/changed my mind.

        • by bunratty (545641)
          That's what Firefox has done since version 1.5, when they implemented the back/forward cache (bfcache).
        • If a web page uses "nostore" for a value in the HTTP Cache header, then Firefox won't store it for the back button. Unfortunately, PHP sends the nostore value by default when the page runs "session_start()", so lots of pages end up fucked up like you say.

          The solution I have found is to run sed on libxul.so. Replace every instance of "nostore" with some random alphabetic garbage of the same length. This causes Firefox to only fuck the page if it finds that exact same random garbage in the cache string, which

      • I rarely us the back button either.

        All links get opened in tabs, so my tab bar becomes a readily-accessible history trail all immediately visible at any time. Using 'click'+'back' feels too much like wandering along a dark tunnel.

        • Nor me. I use the right-click to open a menu and select back

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ircmaxell (1117387)
            Nor me. I use a 5 button trackball at work (back, left, wheel, right, forward), and my Lenovo laptop has dedicated forward and back buttons. And before that, I installed gesture support (Right click and drag left to go back, drag right to go forward). Seriously, I don't understand how people use the actual button on the top of the screen...
    • 'Across Windows, Mac and Linux 93.1 percent of users clicked the button at least once over the course of a five-day period. In total the study reported that users clicked on the back button 66 times over the course of five days.

      Now, I'm no statistician, but that seems to indicate that there are (66/93.1% =) 70.9 people who use Firefox. Probably less, since some users would have clicked more than once.

      • by Mr Z (6791)

        Erm, that's an average of 66 clicks per user I'd imagine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Threni (635302)

          > Erm, that's an average of 66 clicks per user I'd imagine.

          He's no statistician.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stjobe (78285)

        Since the study was made with a Firefox plugin, I think you'll find that 100% of the Windows, Mac and Linux users in the study use Firefox.

  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deesine (722173) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:05PM (#32781136)

    it's the most used gesture: Right button down, drag left.

    • Is that in FireFox by default? It doesn't seem to do anything on this machine (Win/FF3.6.6).
      I know I can add it by using e.g. http://www.mousegestures.org/ [mousegestures.org] , but do add-ons count?

      A sibling poster already mentioned the alt+left arrow.. I wonder how many ways there actually are...

      1. Back button
      2. Alt+Left Arrow
      3. menubar: History - Back (and thus: Alt+s, B)
      4. Right-click (context menu) on any blank area of a page - Back (and thus: Right-click, B)
      5. Backspace button (maybe Win only?)
      6. Shift+Mousewheel Down

      Ca

      • And this is why I don't bother with "shortcuts". I would waste more time trying to memorize all those different buttons, commands, gestures than if I just clicked on the back button, or used the dropdown menu.

  • IE (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:08PM (#32781166) Homepage Journal

    For Internet Explorer, Ctrl+Alt+Delete is tops

  • There aren't that many buttons to click on anyway.

  • by siddesu (698447) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:12PM (#32781212)
    I'm using Vimperator, you insensitive clod!
  • Zero Times (Score:5, Funny)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:13PM (#32781230)

    Zero times, I use vimperator.
    I don't need to move my hands from the keyboard like some ape.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      I do it gamer/modeler style. One hand on mouse, one hand on keyboard.

      Backspace is my back button of choice (I tend to mouse left-handed when I do stuff like surf)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The heatmap will be updated over the course of the Firefox 4 beta program. Hopefully, this visualization will help us understand how the various UI changes affect user behavior, and ensure that these design decisions are in fact improving the product for our (beloved) end-users."

    "Now that we know how users are using FF3, we can figure out how to pessimize FF4's UI. It'll look like Office's Ribbon, or Chrome, or Opera, but whatever it is, it won't look or feel anything like FF3. But it'll look good on o

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      Are you saying that you know better than professional UX people how a UI should look, feel and behave?

      You say they are contradicting themselves, but so are you. First you complain about how the UI will get worse because they are just following trends without considering usability, and then you admit that you just don't want Firefox to change.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:20PM (#32782326) Journal

        Yes. I know better than anyone else what I find useable. A good UI should have sane defaults and be customizable to what I need. Once I configure it properly, it should not change. UI designers should focus on giving us as many options as possible, and setting them to sane defaults.

        In any case, horribly broken defaults that can be customized to something I like is far, far better than moderately acceptable defaults that cannot be customized at all.

    • by adbge (1693228)
      In my opinion, Firefox could definitely use some work on their UI. I would like the default install of Firefox to take up less screen real estate, but I can see where power users might be uncomfortable with drastic change. It's obviously a balancing act: don't become antiquated, but at the same time don't make large UI changes all at once. However, I'm more interested in performance. When it comes to a web browser, performance probably means more to me than the polish of the GUI (within reason).
  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:18PM (#32781288) Homepage

    I informally studied the habits of websurfers at my websites with Google Analytics. I found that for almost every page, the most clicked link was whatever I put at the top left.

    My hypothesis was that our eyes were just drawn to any graphic at the top left, no matter what it was, and so we'd click on it.

    I'd be interested to see some behavioral UI studies about this.

    • I informally studied the habits of websurfers at my websites with Google Analytics. I found that for almost every page, the most clicked link was whatever I put at the top left.

      My hypothesis was that our eyes were just drawn to any graphic at the top left, no matter what it was, and so we'd click on it.

      Alternate hypothesis: all those people were trying to click the back button, but missed.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        Alternate-alternate hypothesis: people who clicked the back button were actually trying to click the top-left of the webpage.

        Or maybe there's a bit of both going on there, the two are hardly mutually exclusive.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      There are some studies about what people actually SEE on web pages at http://www.useit.com/ [useit.com]

      Don't let the site's plainness and 1996 colours put you off, it's got a LOT of good info.

    • You're presuming left-to-right languages. Some languages are right-to-left (e.g., Arabic), so of course "top right" would apply in this case.
    • by hedwards (940851)
      That's been known for many years. People tend to scan left to right across the top then diagonally to the middle of the left hand side, then diagonally to the bottom right of the page. It's a habit people picked up presumably from reading things like magazines and newspapers. Not sure what works for languages that go from left to right, but in English and similar languages it works out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      I think you have the causation backwards. They put the most useful button in the upper left because that's where it's easier to find it.

    • My hypothesis was that our eyes were just drawn to any graphic at the top left, no matter what it was, and so we'd click on it.

      I have a Google Adwords block on my personal website. Up until a month ago, the ad had been on the top right corner of the screen. I was playing around and moved it to the top left.

      From January 1 to June 1, I had x hits, y clicks, and made $z in ad income.

      From June 1 to July 1, I had almost exactly x/5 hits; I served 1.03 times more hits during that month than I had per average in the last five months. I also had .54*y clicks that month, or 2.71 times as many clicks per average month. Finally, I earned 1.42*$z last month, or 7.11 times per month as much as during the first five months. Of the top 20 highest-earning days in the last 5 years, 6 were in the last month.

      Let me repeat that: changing almost nothing but the ad placement from top-right to top-left increased my click-through rate 171% and my monthly ad income by 611%, on almost the exact same number of hits.

      Yeah, I'd have to agree with you.

  • Two types of users (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ascari (1400977) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:20PM (#32781310)

    Read once in a web usability design book that there are two types of users: The ones who are search oriented and the ones that are navigation oriented. Search oriented users use a search engine instead of the browsers navigation bar and the browsers back and forward buttons instead of the web site navigation and links. Navigation oriented users use the browsers navigation bar and the web sites navigation links.

    Of course that's an oversimplification but if that's even remotely true (which I don't know if it is) the high frequency of back button use indicates that there are a lot of search oriented users out there. And if that's the case most web sites are designed poorly or plainly wrong from their usability perspective. What I mean is that in-site navigation is a heavy part of most web sites when it really shouldn't be. Instead web design should promote the use of in-site search and back button use.

    • as you call it.

      Frankly, I never understood his reasoning. Anyway, he *ONLY* enters URLS into Google's text box. When I tried to explain to him that there's a much easier way of doing things, he flat out refused to even consider it.

      But then, he's an old curmudgeon set in his ways, just as I'm set in my own curmudgeonly ways.

  • I hope programmers don't equate "most clicked" with "more valuable" or "more useful." In my view this is a useless statistic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Screen real estate is valuable, and knowing how often buttons are used tells you which ones to make easily accessible and which ones can be buried.

      When it comes to UI's, "most clicked" should absolutely be equated to "most valuable". Doing otherwise could result in a horrid design where the simplest tasks require very convoluted and excessive steps.

      • by bigdavex (155746)

        When it comes to UI's, "most clicked" should absolutely be equated to "most valuable". Doing otherwise could result in a horrid design where the simplest tasks require very convoluted and excessive steps.

        Often people click Back multiple times to get where they want. If we could invent a "Go Back to where I wanted to be" button that the user clicked only once, this would be more useful but receive fewer clicks.

        • Often people click Back multiple times to get where they want. If we could invent a "Go Back to where I wanted to be" button that the user clicked only once, this would be more useful but receive fewer clicks.

          Agreed. But having to click Back multiple times is precisely the reason why it needs to be so easily accessible.

          And if your hypothetical button is not the "most clicked" button on the UI, then it should be demoted to provide the new "most clicked" button with the most screen area. "Most valuable" in terms of UI design does not equate to "most functionality". It means "the button people use the most often". Buttons that are clicked once every 6 months can be buried in a series of menus because people will pu

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      I hope programmers don't equate "most clicked" with "more valuable" or "more useful." In my view this is a useless statistic.

      Then thank god you aren't a UI designer.

      These are the *precisely* kinds of metrics one wants when optimizing a user interface, as "most clicked" *absolutely* equates to "most valuable", in the sense that it's the most frequently used feature, and therefore invoking that feature should be made as easy as possible.

  • Right-click & back. Never use the button on the toolbar.
    • Re:Context menu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Reziac (43301) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:11PM (#32781730) Homepage Journal

      Likewise...

      Except when the entire visible area is an image, in which case there IS no "back" on the context menu, thanks to a moronic decision back when Mozilla was new, and that persists today across the entire Moz-based family.

      Seems the lead programmer thought there was too much "clutter" on the context menu, so removed "back" when the pointer was over an image. There was a huge outcry in the MozDev newsgroup, and a vote of 701 to 2 (yes, real numbers) to restore it, but his response was essentially "*I* like it this way, so fuck you. Moz isn't meant for end users anyway." (I witnessed this exchange in the newsgroup myself.)

      Someone made a patch to address the deficiency, but it was not widely distributed and seems lost to history. Perhaps someone will see fit to recreate it, for those of us who curse this decision on a daily basis (but not being coders, have no way to fix it).

  • The keyboard shortcut for reload is F5, which you hit with the left hand, but the keyboard shortcut for back is backspace (or some combination of keys involving an arrow) which is hit with at least the right hand, if not both. If you're mousing (which is handy for web browsing) then you don't want to have to take your hand off the mouse all the time. Likewise, the back button is near the upper-left corner of the window so it's easy to find.

  • Huh (Score:3, Funny)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:33PM (#32781432)

    I would have thought Slashdot's 'submit' button would have been the one most clicked in Firefox.

  • by simetra (155655)

    In Opera, it's right button down, left button click to go back, left button down, right click to go forward. Always.
    It's the same in Firefox, until Firefox gets updated and the gestures plugin is broken for a few weeks until the maintainers fix it for the new firefox version.
    Going to IE is a nightmare. Then it's right click, click Back on the right-click menu.
    Once you get used to mouse gestures, you wonder why anyone would ever waste so much mouse mileage going up to the Back button all the time.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      So... why do you use extensions to add your much loved feature if Firefox, but deride IE as though it doesn't offer the same functionality through its own add-ons? I'll grant that the library is smaller, but they exist, there's a centralized location to get them from (open the Add-on manager and click "Get more toolbars and extensions" or just navigate to http://www.ieaddons.com/en/ [ieaddons.com] ), and they seem to provide most if not all of the generally sought-after features. I have ad blocking, mouse gestures, user-a

  • Clearly this means they should make the button larger so people can find it more easily!
    • by hedwards (940851)
      Eh, screw it, just make it take up 3/4 of the screen space and remove all those other annoying buttons. The perhaps replace the URL field with a Google bar. Also it should only actually go to lolcats and pr0n sites.
  • by Zouden (232738) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:43PM (#32781496)

    Do you all just use the 3-button mouse that came with your Dell? Back and forward buttons have been common on mice for the last decade. Why click a toolbar button when you can just use your thumb?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      My use a mouse when you can use the keyboard?
      Vimperator FTW!

  • and in other news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:50PM (#32781558)

    the F2 key is the most used key in Solitaire

  • who just uses the backspace key?
    • by kent_eh (543303)
      That seems to be a windows only thing.
      I am a bit surprised there are so few mouse gesture responses, though. It's one of my first add-ons when I do a clean Firefox install.
  • You have to because some freaking idiot made it a unified/menu-like like IE.

    So instead of a single click and you're done, it's now, click, menu, choose/click the fwd/back,
    go wrong direction (possibly) or too far, click the unified button again (repeat).

    A FWD (with menu and clear direction/levels) and BKWD with the same menu and CLEAR direction.

    I HATE the way IE does it (can't seem to fix) and it's the first thing I fixed in FF3.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:53PM (#32782138)
    ... there's no "OMG! My eyes!" button.
  • I use StrokeIt and do a quick right-left swish, you insensitive clod!
    • by lmnfrs (829146)

      I swear I clicked the reply link at the top before noticing your post..
      Sounds handy so I'll have to look it up; I only have scrolling on my touch pad.

  • Interesting; I usually use 'ALT+Left', but also use 'F5' and 'CTRL+L Tab' pretty often..

  • Ok, I'm sorry if I sound dumb here, but doesn't just about every mouse these days have a thumb button which defaults to "back" in most major browsers? I know I've had mice with that button for at least seven or eight years now, and I guess I just assumed they all had it by now.

    Seriously, now I'm so used to that, that if I'm using the laptop touchpad or my 10 yr old trackball, it actually takes me a minute to remember how to go "back" without that button...

    In fact, I can't think of a single UI button

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