By Jonas Sota


Athena is a chrome extension for highlighting text and taking notes on web pages and PDFs in the browser. Highlights and notes are automatically organized into one place, accessible through a web app.


Web annotation has been around since the late 1980's. Nearly all of the 20+ iterations display a 'highlight' button when text is selected. User interviews and my own experience surfaced that such a button was irritating when it displayed without intent to use. A common scenario being when the user wants to copy + paste text. A less common scenario being a minority of users who select text as they read in order to anchor where they are on the page. For these users, a button that displays on text selection was too aggravating to use at all.

Is there a UI / UX for highlighting text that doesn't distract users from the task at hand?

Example of highlighting text with a button: Liner

Highlighting text needs to be mindlessly easy for the sake of preserving the user's focus. While highlighting text in the browser also involves selecting text with the cursor, users often select text without the intent to highlight that text.

What UX makes highlighting text mindlessly easy while not obstructing other aspects of the browsing experience?

Design Goals and Constraints