It is interesting to see how much the Internet has changed over the years and amazing to see all of the cool things you can do online. With that said, most everything that users do online can be accessed or performed from their web based start page, or now called a personalized homepage.
The question to ask is who offers the best personalized homepage? Over the last few years, there has been so much focus on who provides the best search (i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN). There doesn’t seem to be much discussion about personalization. In my opinion, I think personalization is very important.
The situation as hand is that each major search engines function quite well. They are all accurate and they are all going to return relevant results. Granted, these results may vary, but honestly… who cares. If you live in Dallas TX and you’re seeking the best deals on a dozen of roses, I am confident that you can use any of the leading search engines to find what you’re looking for.
To me, it’s all about personalization, and which search site can provide the best options. Google does a great job at providing services. The problem with Google is that they don’t do a very good job marketing their services. In other words, not many people know about their services. For example, it took me a few months to discover Google Reader. The only reason why I discovered it was because a friend told me.
As far as personalization goes. Google does provide them, but from what it seems, their definition of personalization more seems to focus on providing uniqueness to end users instead. In other words, Google’s personalization is more about providing results tailored to the end users trends.
Then you have Yahoo!, which, in my opinion, I feel is doing great. Recently, Yahoo! redesigned their homepage and packed in some really amazing features. The key to their update was “personalization” and providing users with new drag and drop modules of some of the more popular web services such as FaceBook.
All in all, I have some concerns with Google. I really feel like their lack of “personalization” in the terms of giving users the ability to be creative in customization may lead to Yahoo! having an increased chance of catching up to them. Of course there is Bing, but I don’t really thing Bing is much of a threat.
My opinion about Bing is that users are confused. Microsoft has rebranded too many times and it is created a lot of confusion among users. MSN.com does provide a lot of personalization, but I really don’t see anything happening anytime soon. And yes, this remains the same even though Microsoft and Yahoo! are migrating a mixture of their services.
So what do you think? What do you look for in a personalized homepage? Do you look to find “Drag and Drop” modules for FaceBook and Twitter and do you like to be shown about new features? Or, do you like to randomly discover new things that aren’t even advertised?