This is one thing that I really hope makes it into Firefox 3: a new method for browsing your website history. The screenshot above shows a mockup that Alex Faaborg, a User Experience Designer working on Firefox 3, came up with. I have to say that I’m thoroughly impressed with the amount of usability this would offer:

In this design, browsing history is chunked into segments by time, and specific events (like typing a search, or opening a new tab and entering a URL) will automatically create a new segment. Each browsing segment is grouped under the action that initiated the series of viewed web pages. These segments could be collapsed by default to reduce the amount of information initially presented.

The small thumbnails next to page titles are generated from the top half of the page. While my point about users remembering the visual appearance of sites probably sounded like I was heading towards full sized thumbnails, I believe all of the same visual cues that larger thumbnails would provide can be effectively packed into a smaller space.

As it stands right now I’m not a big fan of trudging the search history that Firefox currently offers (other browsers aren’t much better). They do break it up by day and have a nice find-as-you-type feature, but it can still be hard to dig up exactly what you’re looking for.

Actually, the thing that I find most useful is the Google Search History. Some people would argue that using this tool is a bad thing because Google has permission to store all of your searches, but I use it so much that I am willing to give that info to Google. The Google Search History, for those of you not familiar with it, stores your searches so that you can always go back and find that one particular website that you spent hours searching for. It breaks the results up by each day and will list the query that you made along with the search results that you clicked on. Of course, this is Google that we’re talking about so you can also search your Search History, duh!

The Google Search History is not only useful, but it can also be fun. In a few clicks you can pull up trends for when you search for information the most. I’ve been using the Google Search History since April 21, 2005 and have done 19,614 searches since that time. Here is how the trends breaks it down for me:

Google Search History  

Looking at the hourly search activity you can obviously see when I’m at my computer the most. :D

So how does this tie into the Firefox History? I just wanted to point out that keeping track of websites a user visits can be really useful if it is done right. I use the Google Search History on a daily basis to find sites that I’ve forgotten to bookmark or ones that I never thought I would use again. If Mozilla goes about redesigning the history in a way that makes it easier to navigate I think more people would be willing to use it. Judging from the mockup I would say that they are definitely on the right track…I just hope that it will be ready in time for Firefox 3.

Thanks to “Jack of all Trades” for the tip!