Browser Notifications in Content Area

Edward Lee

Studies have shown that users tend to ignore traditional browser notifications that are located in the peripherial view. Additionally, users are easily convinced phishing sites that use fake security indicators displayed in the content of a website.

We propose that notifications can be placed in the content area of a browser - the area where users are already looking. These messages to the user can be made to train the user of its importance while keeping it low-key enough to not interrupt normal usage patterns.

To demonstrate these ideas, we have come up with a prototype for Firefox that displays the domain name of the current website when the user navigates to a new domain. This text that shows up will then move towards the location bar to highlight the corresponding portion of the URL. This domain display will help users realize the importance of the domain name and notice that they've potentially ended up at a domain they were not expecting, e.g. a phishing site.

For this idea to be useful, we need to do a user study to answer several questions:

  1. Is the notification effective at getting the user's attention?
  2. Does the user learn what the notification means?
  3. Can the user be trained to look for the domain name?
  4. How disrupting is the notification for typical browsing patterns?
  5. Will phishing sites be able to take advantage of the in-content aspect?
  6. What notification design tweaks (duration, speed, size, color) are better?

Loading a URL for the first time, so the domain shows up.

The banner animates and shinks towards the location bar; train the user to look here.

Notice that the banner covers existing chrome - something a website cannot do.

Highlighting of the domain shows its importance to the user.

Fade the banner away to return things to how they were before.

Navigation to a new domain causes the domain name to show up again.

Demo of the domain text in motion.