Mozilla wants to make bookmarks more usable
Bookmarks have been part of web browsers for a very long time. They basically allow you to save a web page url in the browser to open it at a later time either by clicking on the link in the bookmarks or through search if the browser includes bookmarks in the list of suggestions.
I used to bookmark a lot of pages in the past, but recently switched to a different model. I only bookmark pages that I know will be useful to me in the future. Everything else I keep open as a tab in the browser which offers several advantages over bookmarks, including the back and forward history of the tab the website is displayed in.
A Mozilla project looked at the bookmarks feature of the Firefox web browser and how and why Firefox users were making use of bookmarks in the browser.Â Brian Groudan came to the conclusion that bookmarks were broken in the Firefox web browser due to a number of factors including complex interactions, inconsistent visual elements and confusing terms used to describe bookmark related elements in the browser.
According to his study, the prime purpose for using bookmarks is to save the information for later use. He identified six use cases, consume, use & reuse, share, organize, nothing and clean up and looked at how common these cases were on different devices.
The most common types for desktop users for instance were consume, reuse and doing nothing, while smartphone users preferred reusing and sharing.
There are also big differences how Firefox users bookmark. According to a survey of over 5000 Firefox users, the most common method of bookmarking is by using the star icon in the browser's address bar, followed by selecting bookmark this page from the bookmarks' menu and dragging and dropping the favicon from the url bar to the bookmark toolbar.
Four design principles came as a result of the study in regards to bookmarks:
- Bookmarks need to be readily accessible on all devices of choice regardless of location and in a form that is usable directly.
- Cover all types of contents, including videos, feeds and news articles
- Confidence in the system, so that users know where to find the bookmarks and that they are always accessible
- Use or do not use, it is up to the user.
One of the design sketches that came out of the project is Dropzilla, which looks a bit like Firefox Panorama. It is basically a dedicated area in the browser that favicons can be dragged to for safe keeping.
I'm not a huge fan of this approach for a number of reasons:
- While it may work with a couple hundred bookmarks, the space seems awfully limited
- There is no "sub-folder" structure available. Say you want to separate school work into the courses you take.
- The favicon approach does not work if you save multiple pages from the same website.
Besides that, it is not really covering contextual information about a page, e.g. how you got there, which you do get when you keep the page open as a tab in the browser.
Do you use bookmarks or another way to save pages for later use?Advertisement