Recently Google announced that it would be retiring iGoogle, a personalized homepage service they have offered since 2005. Many iGoogle fans are protesting, and Google says iGoogle won’t be phased out until November 2013, so perhaps with enough user feedback they’ll change their minds. But some of you may be asking, “What’s a home page” or “Why do I need a home page?”
A personalized home page is set up by a user to be the “landing page” when opening their browser of choice as they connect to the Internet via their PC, Mac, or laptop. Home pages provide a convenient way for users to gather together in one place the information they want ready access to. Typically users place on their home page such things as local weather, personal calendar, email, news feed, favorite blog and anything else they want quick access to. I have been using home pages for a long time, and have found them very helpful for their intended purpose of conveniently gathering together information in one page. iGoogle is one of the home pages services I’ve tried out over the years, and I like it because it has a clean look and and loads quickly. However I have mostly used Netvibes, which I found more customizable, especially visually. But I have also found that Netvibes often loads slowly, especially on pages which include a lot of media content.
So why use a home page? Well, as already noted, they provide convenience in getting to information one wants quickly. Instead of visiting several different sites for information on weather, news, calendar, email, etc., one can put all this information in their personalized home page.
But it seems with more and more people accessing the web via their cell phones , iPads and tablets, leaders in the web industry such as Google are focusing technical efforts on developing apps which provide the same rapid access functionality that home pages have provided.
As a smartphone user I am a big fan of the Pulse apps, which provide lightning fast access to the big news stories of the day, customized by user selection of sources. Pulse also has a cool web-based version of their apps, which I have been using lately as an alternate home page. Feedly is another favorite of mine. It takes one’s existing Google reader feeds and arranges them in a magazine-style web page. And Google Reader is my favorite feed reader, with the usual clean Google look and intuitive functionality. Both Feedly and Google Reader also have mobile apps.
So I’ve found that home page services and feed readers alike provide convenience and efficiency as one seeks information from the Internet, whether it’s news, weather or reading favorite blogs. Personally I think that there will still be a need for home pages like iGoogle in the foreseeable future, but if iGoogle is gone there will always be other good alternatives.
Do you use a home page? If so, which one do you use?