ThunderBrowse Case Study
Client: Myself (and in the end, thousands of Thunderbird users)
Services Provided: Website creation, Content Creation, Browser Software, Software Promotion, Support, Utilities, Blog, Graphic Design, Tracker installation
After switching from Outlook, I found that I increasingly frustrated with the way Thunderbird worked. It was launching links incredibly slow, and it often brought my computer to a stop. I came to the conclusion that Thunderbird needed to handle links differently, possibly through a browser, that would allow users to quickly check websites without having to switch or open new applications. This started development on ThunderBrowse.
After I had noticed a post on LifeHacker that was showing how you could replace your start page with anything you like, I decided to investigate the possibility of Thunderbird loading web content. This led me to create a quick and crude mock up of a website loading system. I saw that other users were looking for a function similar to what I created, so I uploaded it to addons.mozilla.org to allow more users to try it out.
This version was called URLbar for Thunderbird, as originally, all the extension did was allow a user to type in a url and go to it. Within the first hour, I had 240 downloads of URLbar. The next day it was within 650 and 842 downloads. By then, users were writing for new features like history (back and forward) buttons, allowing pages to refresh, the ability to left click on links and load in the browser, button icons, full screen mode, search shortcuts, GET and POST form compatibility and such. URLbar for Thunderbird was gaining a rapidly growing user base, with users promoting and submitting it to other websites, telling their friends and sending fan mail.
This led me to start working on adding some of the user submitted suggestions. As the addon matured, I renamed it to ThunderBrowse because URLbar for Thunderbird was much too confusing. Wanting ThunderBrowse to only include quality work, I wrote to Iconaholic Design to ask if I could use some of their icons in ThunderBrowse, which they happily agreed.
With each new version, ThunderBrowse kept improving to what it has become today.
ThunderBrowse became a huge success, with a ton of downloads and a bunch of happy users, it rose to the top. It was featured on the download.com frontpage twice, given 4/5 stars from Softonic, achieved Download of the Day status from Lifehacker, became a featured (recommended) AMO extension, mentioned on a ton of blogs and websites, and made it to many users extensions lists.
Shortened to save space
ThunderBrowse now has it's own website and domain, where users can read about new developments, features, learn about ThunderBrowse and be able to download a copy for themselves.
What started as a small project became something big for many users of Thunderbird.
If you want to read more, here are some links:
- ThunderBrowse homepage
- ThunderBrowse blog
- AMO's Thunderbird recommended list
- ThunderBrowse on Lifehacker's Download of the Day
- MozillaZine Forums
- Featured on Download.com as a list of great Thunderbird extensions
- Its own feature article on Download.com (+ an editor review of 5/5)
- Listing and Review on Softonic