Thursday, December 29, 2005

Protopage: Your New Favorite Home Page

Choosing the right home page can be a challenge and a quest. Every single time you open your browser -- which I hope is Firefox -- this is the page (sometimes known as a "start page") that greets you, so you have to choose wisely.

Some sites -- like USA Today, MSNBC, CNN, cnet, and Sports Illustrated -- make great and colorful home pages. But they can take a long time to load, and the info doesn't change often enough for the price you pay in time... which really adds up.

Some sites -- like The Huffington Post -- offer a wealth of news and -- most important -- a long list of links, and would be great home pages, except all their content is "below the fold." A home page shouldn't make you scroll more than once, and even then it's a pain.

AOL and Yahoo offer a wealth of information, but their design is so madcap and cluttered, they're not to my taste.

Other pages, like Google, are fast but dull. Besides, all browsers now offer Google searches and a whole lot more up in the toolbar, so that's a waste.

If you have a real need for speed, there's a Spartan -- or is it draconian? -- solution: Create a blank web page. You can even do this in Word: just save it as a Web Page instead of a .doc. It'll load instantly, but that's not living, is it?

You can also create a web page with all your favorite links. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose, and it will load quickly... but it will only update when you update it.

Google Homepage and My Yahoo are great, free web services that let you customize your Google and Yahoo portal, with the news, links, and RSS feeds you want. They're easy and fun (try the Google Glasses). There's also the new beta Live, from Microsoft, but I haven't played with it yet.

You can use Bloglines, a free RSS web service, as your home page. It will list the headlines from all your favorite sites and blogs on one page. But it only works with pages that have RSS feeds (like the easy-to-love http://feeds.feedburner.com/ShouldveAskedMe).

But my new favorite home page is one I made through Protopage, a free online service from England. Register and you get a free personal web page with your favorite links, RSS feeds, news, sticky notes... anything you want. And you can make it private or choose to share it with select friends. It's a great way for, say, a family to leave each other notes during the course of a day. (Think of it as a cyber-refrigerator-door.)

And if you can't decide, you're covered there, as well, thanks to the tabbed browsing in Firefox. Just open the one or two or three (or whatever) pages you want all at once, as separate tabs. Then go into Preferences, and choose to use that group of tabs as your home page. (By the way, you can also save a batch of tabs as a single bookmark.)

If anyone has any other great start page suggestions out there, please share them!

1 comment:

sydelle pearl said...

Interesting suggestions. But I'm gonna stick with Americleaners® Stain Removal Tips as my home page:
www.americleaners.com/fabric-care.html