Thoughtmarks was my Master's Thesis project designed to help users make, organize, and re-find their bookmarks and the online information these bookmarks link to.

Because bookmarks are so easy to make, bookmark collections grow quickly and need organization. Over time bookmark and folder titles become hard to remember, bookmarks becoming stale and unused, and this makes finding bookmarks difficult. To address these pain-points I redesigned bookmarks to be visual.

I first looked at the history of the design space. Mosaic's Hotlist Manager (left), Mosaic's Advanced Hotlist Manager (middle), and Firefox's Bookmark Manager (right). I felt bookmarks were overdue for a refresh.

Early mock-ups tried to make bookmark collections match users' mental models by turning bookmarks into scrapbooks and linked fragments across the web. Users felt these would need too much manual adjustment, and wanted speed over accuracy. Later mock-ups treated bookmarks like photographs and matched users' mental models enough, while still looking simple and quick to use.

I made three tablet prototypes to test interaction styles, using people's real bookmarks so they could react to their personal collections. Prototype 1 used horizontal panning, and tested best. Prototype 2 used search relevance, with less relevant results appearing smaller. Prototype 3 mapped bookmarks along both axes.

I explored sorting bookmarks using Time, Alphabet, and Most / Least Viewed, with Time testing the best.

I made video prototypes exploring order of operations, UI placement, visual metaphors for transitions, and functionality. Treating bookmarks like digital notecards came out of user testing, and animated transitions played on this by showing bookmarks getting "filed away" for safe keeping.

I created hi-fi prototypes with Unity and C# that combined learnings from video prototypes, interviews, and the previous stages of design. These led to a final working prototype I used in my thesis defense.