Monday, October 16, 2006

PageFlakes vs. Favoor

Remember the 'startpage' craze? Back in the day, companies were jumping to get you to use their site for your start page. Some of those are still around. Case in point: Yahoo. Yahoo offers you a startpage where you can costumize it with widgets to show the weather and headlines from sports and news services.
Now web 2.0 is everywhere, and the ease of getting what you want, when you want, has gotten easier and better.

There are many sites that indivdualy specialize in offering different kinds of content. I found two that actually offer a costumized startpage. Favoor and PageFlakes both offer their services for free. I decided to compare the two and see how effective they are for an audience that really likes having a start page.

example of what pageglakes looks like PageFlakes is probably the most well known of the two. At first glance you see a partially formatted page with a few preloaded windows. The idea is you open 'flakes'-small customizable windows that you can position in different places on your page. You can add and delete new flakes to suit your individual preferences.
Pageflakes offers many different types of services to put into your flakes. You can have weather, search, and picture flakes along with many others.

I started to build my own page and had to play with it a bit to learn how and what I could do. The learning curve was short at around 5 minutes to get started, and my speed at adding and costumizing flakes sped up the more I used the service.

I set up some flakes that offered news headlines from different services like the New York TimesGoogle , and YahooFlickr , and Youtube . I liked how I could cosumize the Flickr flake to display pictures eithier in a 3x3 grid or as a single photo with the ability to search by tags. The Youtube flake was similar to the Flickr flake in that you could search by tags and set how many video snapshots were displayed in the flake.
. I also added a search box that lets you choose between a couple engines like . Some of my favorite flakes included weather,
Overall it's a pretty comprehensive site that offers many options to display content.

example showing what Favoor looks like Favoor is the lesser known startpage service. I don't have as much to say about Favoor's options, as it is fairly limited compared to PageFlakes. It is this minimalistic aspect that I want to touch on further.
Favoor is beautifully minimalistic. The learning curve is negligable. If you're like me, there is just something very attractive at having a well designed page that offers alot of content without looking noisy.

Simply put, Favoor lets you add a link, folder, RSS feed, and notes.

These are added in much the same way as PageFlakes, and is a little faster to load up than the latter. The notes window is a barebones notepad that just lets you enter text without any formatting options. I used it to make a mock list of things to do. I found that I was doing a lot of leg work when entering feeds. I had to know the address of the feed I wanted before entering it. Both do offer a list of feeds to choose from with PageFlakes being larger. But for my individual tastes I had to input most individually. I can see someone who just wants mainstream news using PageFlakes a lot more because of this feature.

All in all, I found both sites easy to use with PafeFlakes coming out ahead, as far as the different kinds of content you can add.

Upon closer inspection of both sites, I found that they can serve two different audiences effectively. I use the 'my dad and me' approach.

My dad, being a simple, more casual browser would like the wider range of information provided by PageFlakes. He would like the pictures and video brought to him so he can browse, check the weather, and do a web search right from the same page. I, myself, being a more hardcore surfer and internet user, likes the simple barebones look to Favoor and the ability to have many feeds set up in simple lists. I already have specific sites that I'd just rather go straight to because I already know what I'm looking for. The news feeds are the major plus for me, while browsing pictures and video isn't so much.

One last note I'd like to make is regardless of the user, you have to spend the time to build your page. This would stop my dad right away and send him back to a prebuilt page like Yahoo. If we eliminate the casual surfer, that leaves us with primarily kids and news junkies. As for me, I'd be a news junkie. And with the simplistic look and feel I chose Favoor(indeed I do have it as my start page).

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