If you are like me, staying organized is a cyclical thing. I enjoy doing it but it is such an encompassing task that it sometimes gets put off for too long. Lately I have found myself having too many browsers with too many tabs open at the same time and I’ve had enough. I’m not exactly sure why it happens, but I think it has something to do with the fact that just about every article I read links to other articles that I want to read. There is a lot of information out there and you have to organize if you are going to be able to make it work for you without overloading your ability to receive it.
One way to organize some of the digital clutter in your life is to use a “Start Page”. A start page is a single page in your web browser that acts as a portal, or collection, with related and unrelated Internet-based content. E-mail, news, gardening, music, CNN, Amazon.com, Costco, calendars, phone lists, are all examples of the different pieces of Internet content. An effective start page is usually going to be the default page that loads when you start your browser. IE, Firefox, Chrome, all of them can be told to use a certain page every time it opens up.
Yahoo has fantastic Start Page system going right now. It is simple enough for use by anyone who is comfortable surfing the Internet on their own. It is powerful enough that it delivers quality information and while maintaining polished standards.
I’ve been around the block and back when it comes to start pages. The most effective I can remember was a homemade HTML page that I maintained in MS Word. Over the years, I have put together information portals for IT departments so I am no stranger to understanding that an effective start page has to:
- contain the most useful information obtained by the least number of clicks
- look good
- be easy to update
- have current / real-time information
I am using My.Yahoo for my start page management needs. Talk about information at your fingertips!
I have been struggling of late to be able to effectively find any of my browser bookmarks. I’ve started leaving tabs and tabs worth of pages open in multiple browsers, but that takes a lot resources and you have to be mindful of what pages are open together and which single window to want to save if you have to reboot. Further, I think I’ve reached the tipping point of having too many bookmarks to make it a useful tool.
I have never been able to commit to a start page because traditionally the content was geared toward a single brand or theme that took me too far away. Google’s iGoogle is nice because I use a lot of Google products and they have any easy to use interface. The same can be said for Microsoft’s My MSN. All of these ‘brands’ give you the ability to easily set up personalized pages, but Yahoo’s is the only one that doesn’t feel and look clumsy. No offense to the others, but I’ve been able to stick with Yahoo’s and that is the true test.
The My Yahoo start page interface is highly customizable and I really don’t think it could be any easier to use. You literally point and click to change themes, add content, and navigate from page to page. Once you go through the add content menu you can drag and drop any information module to any spot or column on the page. It resizes itself correctly and fits into whatever space you move it. Big bonus on that one.
Aesthetics aside, the information is actually useful because you can add and remove it at will so you never have boxes of information that are no longer useful to you.
My front page gives me a centralized view of the primary pieces of information that I am initially looking for updates on. I have my GMail inbox, the weather, an interactive “personal assistant” module that intelligently organizes module summaries like mail, stocks, calendar, scores – whatever module you want, my own maintainable list of links, the top 5 top news stories in a variety of categories, and some sports scores (for teams and sports that I designate).
One page not enough? If you want to take your Start Page organization to the next level, the My Yahoo interface allows you to add tabs to further help you stay on top of things. You can create your own tabs and specifically designate what goes on them, just like the front page. Additionally, I really like the “Preloaded tabs” option.
Take a topic like cooking. With one click, you can instantly add another tab to your start page and that page will already be populated with modules related to the topic. The cooking tab had 16 boxes of info on it! They included the NY Times’ Dining & Wine feed, top recipes for slow cookers, a kids cooking blog, and various other specific genre feeds like healthy cooking.
Maybe a start page isn’t for you, but you won’t know until you try. And with so many of the major providers offering you the ability to make a start page with them, chances are you already have an account and can try the concept out. If you like that, then be sure to check out what Yahoo let’s you do. It is efficient and it makes you feel happy to be using it.
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