What’s your homepage? Nearly every site on the internet would love for your entry onto the internet to be their site, but since there are so many decent choices, being simply decent isn’t good enough. It’s time for a home page smackdown.
Based on my experience, there are 3 contenders that stand above the others and deserve consideration: Netvibes, PageFlakes, and iGoogle. I’ve got accounts on all three, but one has become my default. Before I tell you want I use, let me tell you why first.
The primary thing I want out of a homepage is relevant information. The only way I can get the content that is relevant to the unique person I am (no, jokes there please!) is to have a page that is customizable. In modern web-speak, that means my ideal homepage needs to be able to display a variety of RSS feeds, a content aggregator. Netvibes, PageFlakes and iGoogle all do this well. Most sites offer an RSS feed, often represented by an orange icon seen in this paragraph. Depending on how your browser is set up, you can then add that page’s content to your own site.
But I also like content that isn’t necessarily available through an RSS feed. For example, I use Google Maps a lot and I’d like to have service easily accessible where I start my internet journey. Perhaps you’d like a game embedded in your homepage. That should be possible too, right? Luckily the 3 homepages I’ve chosen all offer the ability to embed widgets, basically small Web 2.0 applications, anywhere I want on their pages. Netvibes, PageFlakes and iGoogle are going strong still.
I also happen to be interested in lots of things, so efficient use of the space on my page is important. Looking at the three pages, Netvibes and Pageflakes start to take the lead. iGoogle is just not being as efficient in their design as these smaller upstarts. (Efficient use of the page is where many other homepages failed so miserably that they didn’t make it to the smack down. If you use your internet service provider’s homepage as your personal start page, I bet it’s got a big chunk of the space taken up by unnecessary junk.)
Since I’m going to be looking at my homepage quite a lot, I want to be able to customize it to suit my design sensibility. iGoogle has several nice, but limited, options. iGoogle’s options have a cool feature in that the graphics change over the course of the day to reflect the time you’ve set in your time zone. That’s nice, but their choices need to offer more freedom. PageFlakes, while a very nice looking page, has limited design customization. It just doesn’t have design customization that Netvibes has. Here Netvibes wins my vote. It’s got lots of predesigned themes and allows you to tweak each of them. You can also design them from scratch if you really want. Netvibes wins this part hands down.
One thing I love about both Netvibes, PageFlakes and iGoogle are the tabs you can add to them. I’ve got a “General” tab for my general purpose stuff—email, maps, news headlines—and tabs that relate to special topics, like Coding, and Flash. Tabs on a homepage are nothing new, even the granddaddy of customizable homepages, My Yahoo, sadly showing it’s age now, had tabs years ago. What sets these Netvibes and Pageflakes sites apart though is the easy ability to share your customized tabs with others.
It’s probably no secret if you’ve gotten this far to know that Netvibes is my winner. I won’t scoff at your choice of PageFlakes or iGoogle though. They’re no slouches. Netvibes is just a really sweet site.
Why not check it out? To get you started down the Netvibes road with a fully geeked out tab, click here to check out my Geekery tab. (That’s right. You can even share your tabs with friends when you get them just right.) If you like it, you can keep my “Geekery” tab as part of your own Netvibes page. Pretty cool, right?