Skeema is a digital workspace that helps users handle complex online tasks by decluttering their browsers. Coming from the Knowledge Accelerator at Carnegie Mellon University, Skeema thrives on rigorous academic research and strives to matures rapidly to bring structure and efficiency to every single browsers.
How many tabs do you have opened right now? Chances are you have multiple other tabs in your browser that you plan to get to at some point.
People have a love hate relationship with internet browser tabs: some use them to multitask and keep their work organized, while others struggle with tabs cluttering to an overwhelming number that eventually crash their browser.
Joseph Chee Chang and his team at Carnegie Mellon University recently conducted the first in-depth examination of browser tabs after over a decade of neglect, revealing that a significant number of people are grappling with tab overload, and the root cause being that while tabs serve various functions, they often do so inadequately.
Attempting to answer the question, The Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU followed the browsing habits of 10 people for two weeks and conducted online surveys with 103 more people. They discovered several common explanations for why people couldn’t close their tabs: mental load clearance, digital memory storage, and quick references. The most important takeaway, however, was a phenomena fundamental to human minds: the fear of missing out potential opportunities.
The industry has proposed various solutions trying to address the problem, such as browser features that set aside or "freeze" tabs, software integrations that automatically manage tabs based on usage patterns, and alternative layout for easy switching, previewing, and searching.
But these approaches all seem to miss the forrest for the trees: they only focus on presenting the tabs differently and neglected the connections between them. Users need tools that offload our brains in a way that captures the rich structure inside and allow them to move beyond these units of information.
People are attached to tabs because they view them as opportunities. They’re kind of like opportunities for a better life: gathering more knowledge, getting a better job, becoming enlightened. People are queuing up these things and hoping to get to them because no one likes to lose out on opportunities.
Skeema offers a solution for cleaning up your digital workspace by providing users with a system of organization, labeling, and prioritization for saved web content. By saving tabs in Skeema, it automatically closes them in your browser. The digital workspace operates under three principles: easy organizing of tabs, eliminating the need for copying and pasting data from web pages, and the ability to work with others to jumpstart tasks.
During the course of five months, I worked on improving the user experience and interaction design for the Skeema chrome extension's core functions. I studied several common use cases, such as trip planning and online shopping, and participated in user research to uncover pain points. Based on the gathered insights, I designed and prototyped multiple features to improve the overall user experience.
We evaluated the products and strategies of leading tab management solutions, which serve both as benchmarks and inspiration for new features.
We examined market trends and growth drivers and conducted a SWOT analysis of the productivity software market, providing insights into the market landscape and identifying key patterns in consumer behavior.
We looked at products from other industries that solve similar problems, such as Notion and Google Docs, to identify design patterns and functionality that could be applied to Skeema.
We performed semi structured interviews, think aloud protocols and surveys to gather feedbacks on Skeema’s usability and ideas for innovations.
We established common use cases for Skeema, such as trip planning, online shopping and research work collaboration.
We constructed user personas for Skeema to understand our target audience's needs and motivations, and identified common patterns in user behavior and preferences.
The design process involved presenting several sketches for review, consolidating the best elements into a unified final design that reflects the collective expertise and insights of the team. This iterative approach ensured that every design solution was thoroughly considered, leading to a high-quality final product.
We created interactive mockups and prototypes in Figma, incorporating clickable elements that allows for understanding of the design’s real world functionality. The team also updated the UI kit library with new approved design components, ensuring consistency in the design and ease in future reference.
Users have a view of their currently open tabs in a panel on the right. Moving a tab to Skeema closes the open tab
Feedback: Dragging and dropping one tab at a time was awkward and time consuming.
Insight: Analogous product research provided inspiration for familiar mult-selection patterns when dealing with a large number of items.
nstead of havina to drad and drop tabs ndividualy to their desired locations. checkboxes and a "Move Tabs" button were added so that users could selectmultiple tabs and move them to the same area.