MDN Product Talk: Business Context

This post is intended to frame the business context that MDN operates in. This is not a product strategy. It is the second in a series of posts.

One of the questions I asked in my introductory post was, “What does solving problems for MDN’s audience accomplish for Mozilla?”. In other words, what opportunities make this investment worthwhile?

It’s not always comfortable to ask such questions, but they’re important. We operate within constraints; everything we do has an opportunity cost. Why MDN? I’m glad to say it is easy to answer.

MDN is a public service sponsored by Mozilla, a mission-driven nonprofit. Mozilla does not measure success by revenue, we measure success by our global impact. Products at Mozilla are expected to deliver impact on Mozilla’s mission and support at least one of Mozilla’s main product lines.

Mission Impact

Mozilla’s mission is to build the internet as a global public resource open and accessible to all. Web developers are critical to the mission. They choose the platforms and technologies they use to build products:

  • Deploying to the web is a developer choice.
  • Using open web standards is a developer choice.
  • Building content that works across a multitude of devices is a developer choice.
  • Making content accessible to a broad, global audience is a developer choice.

The success of Mozilla’s mission depends on these developer choices. Developers make choices pragmatically — they choose the possible. MDN makes building open and accessible on the web more possible. MDN empowers all developers to make choices aligned with Mozilla’s mission and thereby create the web the world needs.

How do we measure this impact? Look to future posts for more discussion of this.

Top-line Organizational & Product Support

MDN supports Mozilla’s top-line goal to create meaningful relationships with Mozilla product users worldwide. MDN’s current audience contributes approximately 1-2% toward Mozilla’s overall relationship goals; this number is naturally limited by the size of MDN’s market.

MDN is naturally aligned with Mozilla Learning. Mozilla’s learning products build contributors to the web. MDN empowers expert and professional web makers and is uniquely positioned to address those who aspire to be expert or professional web developers. MDN’s alignment with Mozilla’s learning initiatives is obvious, but only recently intentional; in 2015 we will experiment to learn more about how to directly support Mozilla Learning.


In 2015 MDN will focus on three segments — two of them new.

MDN historically has served web developers who want to build standards-based web sites. After a decade of providing high-quality information about web technologies on its documentation wiki, MDN is considered an authority among these developers. (For instance: Instructors at several “web developer bootcamps” in my town tell me they actively guide students toward MDN, away from MDN’s competitors, because they only trust MDN.) MDN serves more of these developers every month and now serves 25-50% of the global market. These developers are MDN’s core users and the choices they make directly impact Mozilla’s mission.

MDN’s authority, expertise and capabilities position it uniquely to serve web learners who aspire to be web developers. The job market for developers is strong and growing. The number of jobs in both web development and software development is expected to grow by 20% or more in the U.S. by 2020. Global growth is expected to follow a similar trend. MDN can match these new web developers with product features that will help them become web developers building standards-based web sites.

MDN’s authority, scale and unique content position it to serve professional web developers who want to build standards-based web sites professionally. Recent surveys indicate that more than half of MDN’s visitors meet that description. A large number of these professionals say they are motivated to build web products that embody Mozilla values like accessibility, compatibility, and security, but are under-served by tools to make doing so feasible. MDN can build new products and features to fill the gap, increasing these professionals’ ability to build standards-based web sites on deadline.

2015 Goals

Considering those opportunities, in 2015 the MDN team has committed to…

  1. “Relationships”: Support Mozilla’s overall goals by continuing the (double digit per year) organic growth of our original segment, web developers who want to build standards-based web sites.
  2. “Teaching”: Support Mozilla’s learning initiatives by exploring and implementing new capabilities that will serve a new market and segment, web learners who aspire to be web developers.
  3. “Services”: Add a new product, “Services” to serve a new segment, professional web developers who want to build standards-based web sites professionally.

KPIs for these live on the Mozilla wiki with other information about the MDN team’s overall vision, mission and objectives.


Can you put a TL;DR at the bottom of a post? Let’s find out. After this post and yesterday’s, we can now say…

MDN is a product ecosystem that serves an audience whose choices are critical to the success of Mozilla’s mission. MDN serves them at a scale unique within Mozilla and in the market. In 2015 MDN will continue serving web developers who want to build standards-based web sites while building prototypes and experiments to solve problems for web learners and professional web developers.

MDN Product Talk: The Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Business Context
  3. The Case for Experiments
  4. Product Vision
  5. Reference Experiments
  6. Learning Experiments
  7. Services Experiments
MDN Product Talk: Business Context