PixieBrix is a free extension for modifying any website

Final week, whereas looking at Amazon’s overly cluttered website, I lastly determined to do one thing about it.

Utilizing a Chrome extension referred to as PixieBrix, I started eradicating all of the superfluous widgets and distractions from Amazon’s product pages, together with the Alexa banner advert on the prime, the “regularly purchased collectively” promo under the product image, and the sponsored product listings additional down the web page. Now I can discover what I’m trying for with much less scrolling and fewer upsells alongside the best way.

The flexibility to take away the undesirable components of any website is simply one among PixieBrix’s options. It’s also possible to add customized motion buttons to your favourite websites, create sidebars that collect supplemental info as you browse, and ship webpage knowledge off to different companies like Google Sheets or Trello. PixieBrix initially launched final yr, however now it’s releasing a simplified model of its authentic product, with a market the place customers can discover new methods to change their favourite websites. (The New York-based firm is additionally asserting seed funding of $3.5 million.)

[Animation: courtesy of PixieBrix]

As a enterprise, PixieBrix caters primarily to companies that need to customise the software program their staff are utilizing. But it surely’s additionally a highly effective device for private use that’s free for people. If you happen to’re sad with the best way a website works—and don’t thoughts mucking round with a little little bit of code—you possibly can create your personal tweaks to make it higher.

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[Photo: courtesy of PixieBrix]

“The imaginative and prescient is round the best way to democratize anybody’s capability to customise the web sites that they use,” says Todd Schiller, PixieBrix’s cofounder and CEO.

Cracking the code

PixieBrix works by tapping into the developer instruments provided by Google Chrome (and different Chromium-based browsers, equivalent to Microsoft Edge). These instruments, which you’ll be able to carry up by urgent Ctrl+Shift+I or Cmd+Shift+I, allow you to scrutinize and modify the code of any website. PixieBrix provides an additional tab to this menu with a simplified interface for making these modifications, so you possibly can add or take away web page parts with out deep data of net applied sciences equivalent to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Utilizing the Amazon decluttering for example, you begin by navigating to Amazon.com and creating a “Set off” that runs everytime you go to the location. Then, you add a sequence of “Disguise” actions (PixieBrix calls these actions “Bricks”) that run as a part of the triggering occasion. For every motion, a selector device permits you to select which components of the web page you need to conceal.

PixieBrix can add new parts to pages as properly, which is the place issues get actually fascinating. With a bit extra tinkering, I used to be in a position so as to add a “Search on eBay” button to Amazon product pages, which scans the web page for the product title, then opens the eBay search in a new tab. I additionally added a number of customized search shortcut buttons to Courageous Search—at the moment my non-public search engine of alternative—letting me simply search for the present question on Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Reddit.

The PixieBrix extension additionally has its personal sidebar menu, which may pop up in response to issues which are occurring on the web page. I used this so as to add an “Agenda” hyperlink to my Gmail inbox, loading my weekly to-do record from Tweek in a sidebar menu.

As somebody who’s not a coder, I wouldn’t say the setup course of for these additions was intuitive. However PixieBrix’s sample documentation gave me a basic sense of how every little thing labored, and after a couple hours of taking part in round, I used to be in a position to arrange some shortcuts that I’ll doubtless use for a very long time to come back.

A market of mods

My early experiments with PixieBrix solely scratch the floor of what’s attainable. The corporate’s Market reveals all types of different makes use of for the software program—makes use of that I’ve but to attempt, equivalent to including knowledge from webpages to Google Sheets or a Trello Card, displaying supplemental info (like climate straight inside webpages), and filling out types robotically.

However I’m additionally not precisely the target market. PixieBrix is primarily enterprise software program, and it sees a massive alternative in areas like gross sales and customer support, the place staff are sometimes bouncing between browser tabs and cross-referencing info from a number of locations. As an alternative of making a wholly new utility to resolve these issues, PixieBrix needs to assist corporations customise the instruments they’re already utilizing. To that finish, “A variety of different corporations are constructing new purposes, which simply finally ends up being yet one more login,” Schiller says. “We predict for a lot of enterprise circumstances, this is a decrease threat, larger return on funding option to do issues.”

PixieBrix says it expenses round $50 monthly per consumer for its enterprise model, but it surely’s free for particular person customers that don’t want the service’s collaboration options, consumer entry controls, or e mail assist. And people customers will stand to profit if PixieBrix features traction. The corporate’s newly-launched Market lets customers search for new “Bricks” to change web sites, and it’ll broaden over time as extra folks create and share Bricks of their very own.

Shiller says there’s in the end no restrict to what customers can do with the software program.

“It’s going to have a profound influence on the best way that companies and customers work together with the web,” he says, “as a result of it places extra of the customization energy within the fingers of the top customers.”