It is probably the single most important page on the web. The one that you look at more than anything else – the one that vendors would sell their souls for if they could only capture that space for the briefest of time.

It is also overlooked – cash is spent by the bucket load advertising people to come to a particular vendor’s site and yet the one that is still opened up more than any other is not given the attention it deservers.

This page is the browser homepage.

Often ignored, often left at the default setting – this page could offer a huge amount of value if only a bit more time was spent focussing on it.

As far as I can tell there are several types of homepage:

  1. News page (e.g. BBC news)
  2. Default page that came with browser (e.g. MSN)
  3. Customizable gadget focused (e.g. iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes)
  4. Customizable text focused (e.g. Live, Yahoo)
  5. RSS Reader (e.g. Google Reader)
  6. Search only (e.g. Google, Bing, Altavista <this used to be my favourite)
  7. Alternative search (e.g. Wolfram Alpha, Ask)
  8. Company web site (e.g. Edelman)
  9. Multi-tab opening through Firefox, Safari, IE7+

But which is best? (tell me what you use on the poll at the bottom of this post)

Case study 1 – @jonnybentwood – my.live.com

Obviously its a case of horses for courses but I am now on a quest to change mine and I want to know what’s best. First of all let me explain which camp I currently fall in and why…

imageI use my.live.com. It may not be pretty but it has all the information I need at-a-glance. Four separate columns of:

  • News
  • Technology News
  • Sport
  • Blogs I like

I agree it’s not particularly sexy but it fulfils its purpose. Whenever I open my browser I can automatically see everything that is of interest. Of course, I may immediately go elsewhere but this ‘pull’ (or is it push) of information to me is critical and has enabled me to keep on top of breaking news far quicker than I would have found if I had relied on other means.

I am not saying this is perfect but it works for me – I would like something better …but only if it can do what this does. My search for a successor has been crowd-sourced through the company and through twitter.

Case study 2 – @marshallmanson – Yahoo

yahoo shot

Marshall is our head of digital so you think he would have picked wisely. When asked why he uses Yahoo, the simple honest answer of ‘because I always have’ was given. He explained:

I love the quick look at the news. But the new layout doesn’t work for me.

Case study 3 – @brothermagneto – Multi-tabbed homepage

homepage

Jason is a social media pro – his reason for picking several tabs:

Those are the 5 pages I use and engage with regularly. Even though I can bring content to one page, if I want to interact (such as write an email) I have to open a separate page.

Case study 4 – @joebaguley; @msamayoa – iGoogle

image

Mauricio is a social media and PR expert. He uses iGoogle because:

it integrates the rest of my google spaces (lots of them too!). does the job well, and can even be improved.

Joe is a tech expert at Quest whose company finetunes solutions to make them work far better. He uses iGoogle:

because I also using GMail for personal mail and google reader for RSS, it does a great job.

As to what is best for me. I am still not sure but I am on the hunt for something new and unless it can give me everything I currently get via my unglamorous live page then I’ll stick where I am.

Endnote: Since starting this I have been pinged to try ZooLoo – lets see if this is any better.

Disclaimer: Quest and Xbox is a client of mine but this has not impacted by decision to use live.

@jonnybentwood

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