Revealing the Firefox Secret Used by Top Web Developers and Power-Browsers

Profiles are one of the best kept secrets around regarding Mozilla Firefox (my browser of choice).

In the role of web site designer, I find it useful to have Firefox set up with various Extensions for helping test compliance, keep track of Google AdSense earnings, checking PageRank and Alexa rating, etc…

However, when I am simply surfing the internet, I don’t want to be weighed down by all these tools, cluttering up my status and toolbars. I like a slick, simple browser that looks good and works quickly.

Fortunately, I am able to have both of these scenarios in Firefox, through the wonder of Profiles.

How do Firefox Profiles work?

Firefox allows multiple users to set up the browser to suit their own specific needs and tastes, from Themes and Extensions to Bookmarks and Home Page.
Upon startup of Firefox, you are able to choose which user profile you would like to use.
So, you can now have a profile for your web development needs, one for your personal surfing, and even one for the kids (allowing you to increase Firefox’s security measures).
Each profile is independent of the others, so it’s like having a new installation for each user.

How do I activate Firefox Profiles?

1. Firstly, find the Firefox shortcut on your desktop (or create one from the .exe file).

2. Right-click it, and select properties.

3. Lastly, in the Target box, add ‘ -p’ without the apostrophes to the end of the target line (so that it reads something like ‘C:Program FilesMozillaFirefoxfirefox.exe -p’), and click OK.

Now when you start Firefox through this shortcut you will be prompted with the Profiles Manager box (as long as you do not already have an instance of Firefox open). It’s all self-explanatory from thereon.

For faster start-up, I advise that you keep two shortcuts on your desktop – one to load up Firefox as normal, and this new one to execute only when you want to change profile.

Do Web Developers Avoid Scrutiny?

Due to the nature of my business I speak to many people in various industries and something is becoming more and more clear as time goes by – website and web application developers are reluctant to have the security of their work scrutinised.

I understand their dilemma – if they have their solutions security tested it will add to their costs and increase the price of their product. Or it may affect client beliefs that the products they deliver are already secure.

Then there is the hosting company who provide the hardware and infrastructure which allows websites to be accessed – some of the security issues may lie there, so why would the site developer worry about security?

Indeed, I had a conversation recently with a website development company who didn’t want their product security tested because to do so may imply that they aren’t building things properly in the first place. They went on to point out that if the client discovers a security issue in the application later, they can charge them again for fixing it!

The other problem is one of accountability. In the recent attacks against Sony, Sega and others it is the company or organisation attacked that gets the bad press and the flak, not the company they got in to develop the website or application.

This means the website developers get off virtually scot-free with the probable loss of just that piece of work or client. On the other hand, the client may end up having to deal with potentially crippling clean-up costs, compensation claims and reputational damage.

So how do we change this? What should companies and organisations do to ensure the work done for them is of a high enough standard?

Well here are a number of suggestions:

1. Ask your website developer about the security measures they build in to your solution. If they’re vague or evasive find another supplier. Have whatever response you get evaluated by an expert.

2. Ask them up-front if they have the site independently security tested or whether they are happy for you to do so once the solution is complete but before you pay for it.

3. Ask them to guarantee the site’s security, or at least provide fixes for free should security vulnerabilities be identified later. Make sure this is in the contract.

4. If they do security test the solution, find out if it is truly independent and whether the site will receive any accreditation in the form a security seal or other certificate.

At the end of the day, if you employ a website developer to create your website it’s still your data, reputation and profit that’s at risk if your site’s security isn’t up to scratch. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

Creating a Website Outline For Web Development

Creating a website outline can be a very simple and quick pre-production step that a developer, designer or any type of person can take. An outline can be in all different types of formats. Bullet points, small paragraphs, some even use their sitemaps. It really matters on the type of person and what their work flow. Having a website content outline gives you can idea of where your website is heading after the homepage.

How to Start

There really isn’t a how to outline a website, you can be as creative as you want. If you’ve done your brainstorming you know what niche or idea you want to portray. And if you’ve thought of a site map in your storyboarding process then you have even more information. You have your main category, sub categories and a page structure for you site.

Your Structure Can Be Anything

Most website content outlines start with your main category at the top of the list. Then follow down into the different sub categories and pages from there. Usually you have a bullet point structure for the outline, with indents for the different categories, subcategories and pages. Your website design outline layout can be anyway you want. Just focus on what works for you and what you will understand.

Website Outline Example

  • HomePage
    • Category 1
      • Sub Category 1
        • Page 1
        • Page 2
        • Page 3
      • Sub Category 2
        • Page 1
        • Page 2
        • Page 3
      • Sub Category 3
        • Page 1
        • Page 2
        • Page 3
    • Category 2
      • Page 1
      • Page 2
      • Page 3
    • Category 3
      • Sub Category 1
        • Page 1
        • Page 2
        • Page 3
      • Sub Category 2
        • Page 1
        • Page 2
        • Page 3
    • Site Map
    • Contact Page

Used to Help You Keep Track

There isn’t a set way to do it or a standard way to create an outline. The purpose of a website outline is to keep track as you build your different pages for your website. It also can help you visually see how your categories and subcategories are set up. Maybe you’ll see something that won’t work. Or you find yourself with have extra categories or you could add more categories. Either way it’s a good exercise to do before jumping into development.