Add-ons and extensions: The future of web browsing.

Nine browser add-ons we can't live without.

By Craig Cartwright15th October 2015

With the right tools, completing web-based tasks can be real simple. We've surveyed industry professionals and have identified the browser add-ons that will make your life easier. Because now a browser is no longer a browser. It's much more.

Over the years, web browser functionality has significantly grown (maybe even changed) from just viewing websites, to becoming a productivity tool. Business users now find that majority of their computer-based tasks are all completed within a browser-based environment.  With the introduction of Google docs, Office online, several systems are now moving to an on-demand approach – more and more is moving to the browser.

Even heavy-duty CRM and ERP systems such as SalesForce and MS Dynamics are now working ‘in the browser’ in favour of native windows applications, helping to provide a true cross-platform solution. Though these applications are still leading the way, their browser-based alternatives are picking up momentum. And there are now thousands of these add-ons, plug-ins and extensions available (for consistency in this post, we’ll call them add-ons.

So what is everyone using to complete their daily tasks?

The browsers.

We spent some time surveying people from within the industry, as well as the staff, to find out about people’s browsing behaviours.

Before looking into browser add-ons and plugins, we wanted to find out the most popular web browser for PC/Mac. An overwhelming 87% responded with Google Chrome. This doesn’t come at a complete surprise, though. Its speed, stability and interface makes browsing seamless and towers over its closest competitor Firefox.

Interestingly, we also found out that 60% of our respondents never use “full screen” view. It's no wonder that the new Windows 10 OS, for example, has improved multitasking capabilities that avoid full-screen apps. I’m sure Microsoft has plans to do similar with its new Edge web browser, which, by the way, only received 3% of our audience’s blessing.

The add-ons.

After determining the favourite browser, we then look at the favourite add-ons.

We surveyed a range of people from web developers to graphic designers to marketers. The results that came back are diverse. So whatever your profession, there will be an add-on that will help you complete your daily tasks; that will make you work smarter.

Let’s reveal nine of the most popular.

Pocket.

The average internet user visits 10 different web pages per day. That’s approximately 300 per month. Pocket allows you to save the good websites and web pages that you want to go back to with a single click. A basic function, yes. But one that's very handy in this fast-paced browsing world.

Postman.

Postman is a developer tool that speeds your API (application program interface) workflow. Not one for the non-developer, but it's an add-on that can help build, test and document your APIs if testing is one of your issues - so you spend less time on the boring stuff.

YSlow.

YSlow will analyse web pages and suggest ways to improve them. It works on a range of pre-defined rules that align to improve a page’s performance. This add-on will also display key statistics about the pages, giving you a complete overview of how fast or slow pages are.

SEO Quake.

This one is for the marketers. For a glimpse into how a web page is built for search engines, SEO Quake will reveal various SEO parameters such as Google PageRank and Google Index. The most useful aspects, though, is its breakdown of information about backlinks, page structure analysis amongst other keyword-based factors.

Page Analytics.

Google’s Page Analytics gives you an indication of how your website is performing right there on the website. It gives you a snapshot of the basics when it comes to web analytics, as well as how visitors are interacting with these pages without having to go to your main analytics dashboard.

Awesome Screenshot.

The name says it all. If you want to take awesome screenshots, this is your add-on. Awesome Screenshot lets you capture any part of a web page, and then add annotations, comments along with other edits, and then store that image on its servers.

WhatFont.

It’s not easy to decide upon a font. Usually, you have to see a font in action to decide whether you’d like to use it for yourself or on your own web pages. With WhatFont, you can inspect fonts on websites by just hovering over the text. Every designer should have this add-on running.

BuiltWith.

Ever found a website and wanted to know what applications and systems it was built with? With BuiltWith Technology Profiler, it's now possible. With a click, the add-on will list all the technologies it can find on that page.

AdBlock.

And finally, to the most popular add-on: AdBlock. The last thing users want whilst browsing is ad after ad slapping you in the face as you go from website to website. Now that can stop (for good) with this handy add-on; bouncing off everything unwanted during your browsing experience.

With these add-ons, you'll be getting more out of your browser. You'll be making it work harder, whilst your own work will be easier to complete. This is an area that has real potential for development and I anticipate further advancements within web browsers in the near future.