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Prism: a visual bookmarking app that outstrips Pinterest

When you browse the internet and discover lots of fantastic resources to remember for later, you may find that you don't have an efficient bookmarking tool for saving links. There may not be an interface that allows you to quickly and easily view all of your saved websites. Bookmark lists are often made up of vague, barely readable links, and Pinterest doesn't even let you point to a website. This is exactly where Prism comes in: it's a web application and visual bookmarking extension for Google Chrome that lets you manage and search all of your favorite sites in one place. Screenshots of the websites are taken and they update automatically so that you always see the latest content. However, you can also opt for a static display to record a specific point in time.

Prism is a design-led remote start-up based in the Bay Area of ‚Äč‚ÄčCalifornia that was founded by a woman. The tool focuses on making the web browsing experience more visual. Prism was founded by Anna Western who is both CEO and designer with over 10 years of design experience. During this time she has worked with studios, startups and Fortune 500 companies. Anna previously worked as a product designer at Facebook, where she designed internal tools. She is also a co-founder of a start-up that was launched at YC W19.

Together with Anna and her team, our experienced backend and frontend engineers developed Prism from scratch and turned Anna's idea into a practical, high-performance solution for users all over the world.

The challenge

We were recommended to our customer Anna Western by her colleague David Weekly, whom we already knew from our collaboration on the medical app Medcorder. She wanted to team up with the engineering team to create an MVP of the Prism visual bookmarking app and browser extension she designed.

The customer was looking for a competent technical partner for her company. The product she wanted to develop - a visual bookmarking app and a corresponding plug-in for managing browser bookmarks - was supposed to be used to collect and categorize websites. Anna wanted to implement a function that takes a screenshot of the website and saves it on a board, similar to Pinterest. However, the app should have one major difference to the platform mentioned: On Pinterest, you pin a single image that is somewhere on the page and refers to it. Prism, on the other hand, allows you to take a screenshot of the entire page.

For example, you will be able to compile a list of all the websites that you want to revisit. You have screenshots of the respective websites that you can collect on a board. In addition, the screenshots are updated the next time you call up, so that you always see the latest version of the website you have saved. You can use the app through an installed browser extension and organize, view and change your boards in your personal Prism account.

Anna approached Evrone with a finished design concept for a visual bookmarking app and browser extension as well as mock-ups and a vision for the functionality of the application. Our task was to do thorough research, hold consultations, work out the technical solution and make a proposal for the architecture of the project.

The solution

Evrone has been selected as the Prism team's technical partner to help them develop a bookmark manager. We assessed the scope of the project, assessed the risks, specified the timeframe for implementation and offered advice on all questions that Anna Sorge was facing.

Our engineers have developed a web-based app that is available as a browser extension for Chrome. The Chrome extension allows users to bookmark web pages. Based on the designs provided by Anna, the product saves screenshots of the bookmarked pages on a visual board that serves as a reference for the user and allows them to organize the screenshots in categories. In this way, the user is provided with a visual focal point for bookmarks that they want to keep track of. Users can also import their existing Chrome bookmarks. A user can invite other users (or those who want to become one) to his board, whereupon these members become the same.

We started the project in May 2019 and launched the product in September 2019. Thanks to the efficient collaboration with Anna and the Prism team, we were able to publish the MVP in just three and a half months and still had a little extra time to fix bugs and improve the loading time. Our React-based front end, on which we implemented all screens and in which we adhered to every detail of the design specifications, was able to fully meet the customer's expectations. The scaling of all grid sides is flexible, which means that the grid adapts to the side itself just like Pinterest.

To take the website screenshots, we used Python and Chrome in headless mode in the backend. The browser renders the website, we export the image of it and save it in DigitalOcean Spaces. Redis was also used to distribute the rendering tasks. The project stack includes Kubernetes, GraphQL and CircleCI for ongoing integration and deployment. Rollbar and Sentry were used to track and fix errors in real time. We also made the proposal to the customer to use the cloud-based email service Mailgun for the email campaigns. The project team consisted of a project manager, a front-end engineer and a back-end engineer. Our project manager took care of all communication between the customer and the engineering team, which made things easier for the Prism team.

The bottom line

It was a pleasure working with the Prism team and taking on the challenge of creating a Pinterest-like web app as well as a custom browser extension that offers greater customizability and flexibility to meet user needs become. We're always looking for innovative new projects to be a part of - whether it's creating a brand new application from scratch or developing a cross-browser plug-in or extension. If you have an idea for a product and need help developing it, just let us know how we can best reach you. We will then contact you as soon as possible to discuss your project and determine how we can help you.