tom haynes


The Fall 2009 University Mozilla Design Challenge asked the following question about browsing history:

How can we make sense of this rich source of data and how do we best present this data to the user?

After brainstorming, sketching, and talking with other SI students, I came up with Timeline, a new way of displaying and interacting with web browsing history.

Browsing history can be a necessity for a number of reasons, but one common motivation is needing to find something visited in the past but don’t having enough information to simply search for it, either using a search engine or the fulltext records of the browser’s history. Perhaps the user only remember that they clicked a link from, or that it yesterday morning between checking their email and doing research at work. These are the use cases that Timeline targets.

Instead of showing web history as a one dimensional list, Timeline includes additional contextual information to help people re-find the pages they were looking for. This information includes:

  • the time of day visited
  • the duration of the visit
  • the browsing path to each page
  • whether pages were opened in a new tab or a new window
  • whether the page was bookmarked
  • the “active browsing track,” or what pages were in focus and which were in the background at any specific point in time

Mockup (click for high-res):

Early whiteboard sketch the introductory SOCHI design jam:

Short video explaining use:

Some probable necessities in the future:

  • Controls for resizing the time interval shown.
  • A search or filter interface (I’m imagining something like OS X’s System Preferences search, where matches glow and non-matches are dimmed).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.