The Browser Company wants you to build your own internet home
Every web browser has features that seek to set it apart from its competition. Arc, on the other hand, speaks a totally different language of navigation.
When you first open the Arc installer, you’re not greeted with basic setup instructions – import your bookmarks, log in to your account, set it as your default browser, etc. . – but rather by a multi-step tutorial rendered in lush colors and intricate detail. The installation ends with a personalized Arc “membership card”. You have completed the training; you are in the club.
This is The Browser Company’s “unboxing” experience. The browser created the unboxing primarily for convenience, says designer Kristina Varshavskaya. “We were onboarded manually until recently,” she says To input. “Literally scheduling a call with someone on our team to show them how to use the product.” It wouldn’t work on a large scale, the team knew that. The solution: “Let people configure the browser themselves.”
This process is necessary because using Arc for the first time is like jumping on a motorcycle after riding a manual bike your whole life. Unboxing gives you a tour of all the extra buttons and buttons so that, in the end, you have an idea of both how to use Arc and what to expect from the general design philosophy of the browser .
‘It’s in the name’Navigator‘ – they are designed be passive consumer vehicles for looking at on the Internet. We want users to participate in her, create by his side.
Arc’s functionality is underpinned by its design; neither would work properly unless the other was considered in tandem. Both rely on inspiration from outside the tech world because, as Varshavskaya says, “we pretty much figured out the right UX as an industry.” The team therefore turns to other industries, such as cinema and video games, to motivate itself.
For the unboxing experience, Browser drew deep lessons from game design theory. A fundamental aspect of game design is skill level pacing. You want the player to feel accomplished even at the start of the game before they are actually qualified. Starting your browsing experience with “small wins” by completing a gradient selection experience allows users to see results immediately.
“It’s in the name ‘browser’ – they’re designed to be passive consumption vehicles for watching the internet. We want users to participate in it, creating alongside it,” says Varshavskaya.
Karla Cole, another Arc designer, wants the unboxing experience to set the tone for the overall browsing experience. Like when you pull the ribbon off a gift and the smell of the new shoe hits you in the face, Cole wants that first opening to be special. It’s The Browser Company pulling a neatly wrapped box out from behind its back when all you really expected was a nondescript, minimalistic browser settings window.
Although this is the user’s first interaction with Arc, the unboxing was designed after most of Arc was complete. Because of this, the design team ended up working backwards to better understand what hardware should be covered in the tutorial. Varshavskaya says it often came down to figuring out “which parts of the browser make sense and which don’t.”
Color is an essential aspect of the unboxing experience. It’s the first feeling you get when you open Arc for the first time: bold, frantic color. The color isn’t in stasis because Browser wants Arc to feel like it has life – like your experience can grow and evolve.
“We wanted to play with the feeling you get at the start of a movie,” Cole said. To input. “This burst of radiant color becomes a guideline for the entire unboxing experience.”
The thing about color, Cole explains, is that it can feel very personal. This is another reason the team designed Arc to be so color-forward. They wanted you to feel like you could “put your feet up on the coffee table”. They want it to feel not just like a tool, but like a home; a place where you’re comfortable that also makes you feel like you can be better if that’s what you want – or a place to throw your clothes on the floor, if you prefer.
Of course, the unboxing is really just the prologue to using Arc, but it’s a savvy prologue, with plenty of foreshadowing of what using Arc will be like. Color – and its inseparable twin, lighting – are even more important to the browser than they are to their unboxing.
“Other browsers tried to be a the window to the Internet — but the bedroom that matters too. What else is around this window?
Lighting also proved essential for Varshavskaya when designing Arc. During the design process, Browser co-founder Josh Miller introduced her to Robert Irwin, a visual artist who had fun using scrims — drop cloths traditionally used to change lighting ( and therefore indicate time or mood) in the theater – for other artistic purposes. Irwin used scrims to change the look of a space, to draw the viewer’s attention to things they might normally ignore.
This is how Arc came to have a softly lit frame around its entirety. It’s a kind of canvas in its own right, a backdrop against which you can conduct your work and have fun in the weirder corners of the Internet. Like Irwin’s scrims, it draws your attention to the space you’re using, rather than taking it for granted, as is the case with most web browsers. The hope is that you’ll want to remember Arc is there, rather than forget it.
“It felt like there was room to show up with a little more opinion,” said Dustin Senos, Arc’s design lead. To input. “Other browsers have tried to be a window to the internet, but the coin matters too. What else is around that window?
That soft framing runs through the whole Arc experience – and it really is an experience. In its mission to reinvent the way we access the Internet, The Browser Company has carefully rewritten some of the most important creeds of the standard browser. Arc doesn’t automatically close all your tabs when you exit a window, for example.
“Arc has more memory than so many other browsers. You’re not surfing millions of URLs every day, you’re usually viewing a consistent set of tabs,” says Senos. presents itself to you in this sense.”
Arc’s colors extend to its sidebar, where users will find every tab they’ve opened, an address bar, pinned sites, and access to a variety of other tools. Presented in a vertical format, your list of tabs looks more like a file explorer than a series of actual tabs. This list is the same for all windows; all your tabs will remain ready until they are untouched for 12 hours by default. You can pin as many as you want forever, organizing them into folders for quick access.
This memory, Senos says, is also a way for Arc to grow with the user. The project is ultimately about making web browsing more personal, so Arc is designed to help simplify both your work and your playtime. As you continue to use Arc, it will give you suggestions. “We try to adapt to the user, rather than being window agnostic,” says Senos.
Arc’s insistence on perseverance is one of his greatest strengths; this is how, as Senos says, you will feel at home. (This, of course, complements Arc’s initial focus on color and aesthetics.) This persistence exists in just about every tool browser built into Arc: the Easel, for example, allows users to Effortlessly collect items and objects from the internet onto a canvas. . Arc’s memory becomes your memory.
While Senos considers Arc a home, Varshavskaya likens the browser to her office. Every inch of her desk is filled with something, she says: parking tickets, stacks of papers, notebooks, writing utensils, etc. The chaos of her everyday life is organized here, however, in a way that only she can understand. And this system of personal organization can develop as she progresses in life. She doesn’t need to keep her desk tidy, but she can find exactly the sheet of paper she needs at any time.
As personal as it is to create your own browsing experience, Browser knows the internet is better when we experience it together. The Easel feature is therefore fully collaborative – just a few clicks and you can share your Easel with another Arc user. If Arc is your new home, Easel lets you open the doors so you can give your friends a little ride. (Maybe not the most personal rooms, like your pinned tabs, but the living room and kitchen, at least.)
The Browser design team spent many, many hours building the foundation of Arc (although they assure me that all of that work was fun); now its first beta testers are moving in, picking out a few fresh coats of paint, and gradually figuring out how to best use their new space. Even so, the team is constantly reviewing their work for any cracks they may have forgotten to fill. There is still a lot of creativity to spend.
“I think we’re getting there,” Varshavskaya says. “We’re almost ready to let people reclaim the Internet.”