PixieBrix: a nifty tool that lets you customize any website for your team

This wacky old World Wide Web of ours has a lot going for it, but personalization isn’t exactly its core strength.

For the most part, the Web is what it is – a take-it-or-leave-it sort of thing. And especially when your business relies on a lot of browser-based tools and services, as so many businesses do these days, it can really limit the usefulness and effectiveness of an experience you and your teammates can have.

This is precisely the problem of a startup called PixieBrix set out to solve. PixieBrix lets you take full control of the web and make it work the way you want. This means you can simplify common website interfaces to eliminate distractions and optimize your environment, on the one hand, but even more powerfully it means you can to add elements into websites and turn any standard site into your own personalized, company-specific workspace.

Sound wild to you? He is. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of what this thing can do.

A whole new way to work online

At its core, PixieBrix is a browser extension which integrates deeply with Chrome and lets you mix and match a variety of “bricks” – or building blocks, in a sense – to change the look and feel of virtually any website. Each brick performs an action, anything highlight items on a page at creating a pre-filled email. Many bricks automate tasks and/or also integrate with popular business services, such as Asana, Google Workspace, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Zapier.

It’s a noble concept to understand, and it’s easier to understand with concrete examples. So let’s get straight to the fun part and explore some of the specific ways PixieBrix might work for you – starting with some of the service’s pre-made “plans” that make website customization particularly easy:

  • Use of the service Plan “Send to Slack with page title”you can add a simple button to any website that lets you share the site’s URL and title directly into any of your team’s Slack channels, with no secondary steps or extra effort required.
  • If your company uses Jira, the Blueprint “New Jira issue from selected text” will add a special command to your browser’s context menu to create a new Jira issue from the text you’ve selected on your screen – with a drop-down menu that even lets you select the specific project and add additional contextual information on site, without ever leaving the site you are visiting.
  • The Plan “New Trello card” does the same basic thing but with cards in Trello.

Brittany Joiner shows how to use the “New Trello Card from Selected Text” plan.

These are the PixieBrix equivalents of plug-and-play customizations. where is the service real the power kicks in, however, when you start digging in and getting your hands dirty with your own modifications made from scratch.

The web, your way

Fair warning: this part of PixieBrix is ​​not for the faint-hearted. But for anyone comfortable with basic low-code tinkering, it’s not too terribly technical – and in a corporate context that would probably be an IT guy doing the initial setup, anyway, then sharing the results with the teams (more on that in a bit).

Once the PixieBrix extension is installed in Chrome, you can access its control panel by opening Chrome’s developer console, most easily done via the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-I (or ⌘-Shift-i) . You’ll want to make sure the console is docked at the bottom of the screen, which you can do by clicking the three-dot menu icon in its corner.

Then you will simply find the PixieBrix section in this area and you will be off to the races.

The most important piece of the puzzle is the “Add” command on the left side of the PixieBrix panel. Click on it and you’ll find a list of items you can add to any website you’re currently viewing.

pixiebrix interface JR Raphael/IDG

PixieBrix’s “Add” command allowed me to add this button (a plain text button, in this case) directly to the Computerworld website. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

And this is where PixieBrix begins to show its true muscle enhancing efficiency. Let’s look at some examples of the kinds of productivity-focused changes you could make, for example, to LinkedIn:

  • You can use PixieBrix’s “Button” option to add a native-looking button to the top of every LinkedIn profile that retrieves the name of the person or company on the page and then retrieves the Google search results that match it. are linked – and/or even sends the same information. in a shared document or chat channel — as a simple point of reference.
  • You can create a native-looking button anywhere on LinkedIn that pulls some information from the page and then saves it all in specific columns of a shared spreadsheet – if, for example, you want to have a Simple one-click way to create a collection of promising candidates and maintain all relevant information from their LinkedIn profiles.
  • And you can use the “Sidebar Panel” option to create a collapsible custom sidebar that shows you every news article that specific publications have written about the company or person whose profile you are viewing – for example, every article which appeared with their name on computerworld.com.
pixiebrix sidebar PixieBrix

This special sidebar automatically retrieves every article written on the topic from the LinkedIn page on Computerworld and displays that information in an easy-to-access list. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

And all that is still just scratching the surface of what PixieBrix can do. The service is adding even more functionality, with an expanded range of interactive elements for areas like this sidebar panel and a new round of financing to support this growth.

A team philosophy

The main challenge with PixieBrix, as we mentioned a moment ago, is that setting up your own web-scale customizations isn’t exactly the most intuitive process. I consider myself quite tech-savvy, and even felt a bit overwhelmed trying to navigate the service’s web of options and variables.

But here’s the important thing to remember: in the context of an enterprise, every average schmo wouldn’t go into the details of this setup. Instead, it would be centralized – and someone from IT would likely do the initial setup, then use PixieBrix’s team management dashboard to make certain customizations available to specific people or departments.

And this is something PixieBrix makes incredibly painless. Once you have all the customizations your business needs, all configured and ready, it literally only takes a few quick clicks on the PixieBrix dashboard to deploy any or all of those profiles to anyone or everyone. in your company.

pixiebrix deployment PixieBrix

PixieBrix makes it easy to manage and deploy customizations for individuals or teams within an organization. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

And that’s where PixieBrix does his money, by the way: Although the service is free with some limitations for individuals and small teams, you must start paying once you reach a size of six or more users – $10 per user per month for the entry-level Pro plan or $30 per user per month for the full Business plan.

To be able to bend the web to your will and make all of your business tools more cohesive and connected might just be a price to pay.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

About Sandra A. Powell

Check Also

How Google’s Latest Anti-Spam Update Could Hurt Your Music Website

For musicians, having an easily accessible website is crucial. However, Google has recently tightened its …