I’ve decided to test a new idea, and you, my lucky readers, get to be guinea pigs. (My BFF, Chris Brogan, gave me the idea.) On occasion, I find new things (products, services, etc.) useful. It may be months after something is introduced or during the new thing’s early weeks. However, if it meets my criteria (i.e. makes my life easier), I’ll write a short review that may help you find something that makes your life easier.
You’ll know it’s different from my usual posts because I’ll include “For What It’s Worth” in the post title. Also, before you worry if I’m changing directions on my blog, don’t. These posts will be few and far between. In fact, this may be a one-time event. We’ll see what happens. So guinea pigs, let the test begin.
I haven’t been a big fan of personal start pages. The customization always seemed surface level and proved limiting rather than helpful. After reading some reviews, I signed up a few months ago for a Netvibes account. Other similar services, which I haven’t used, include Pageflakes (warning: Pageflakes has a funny startup screen that pops up if you haven’t visited before and seems to take forever to load) and Microsoft’s Live.com.
Since signing up, I basically neglected Netvibes. However, after spending some time Saturday customizing my Netvibes account, I’m inclined to say they’ve got a convert, but not for the usual reasons. Fair warning—Netvibes’ value to me may not be common enough for the masses.
First, unlike my Google Reader, I’ve classified Netvibes as a business tool. It could easily be someone else’s all-around aggregator, but I’ve chosen to keep personal and business content separate, at least for now.
On one page, I can see Twitter, Facebook, and my two business email accounts. I no longer have to open multiple windows and log in and out in order to see if I have an email. However, there is one slight drawback that I’ll cover in a sec. Back to the good stuff. Everything I need to refer to throughout the day is in one place. This option gives me room to open other tabs for research and reference as I’m working. In essence, my Netvibe page replaces 5-6 Firefox tabs, if not more as I skim through my chosen tabs and feeds.
Second, my clients are spread across a wide range of fields from finance to agriculture. Netvibes’ individual tabs, divvying up feeds by topic, makes it very easy for me to browse industry-specific news without cluttering my Google Reader. I prefer keeping my private/personal feeds separate from my business side. In that way, I’m not a big masher. What I subscribe to in Reader is for my own personal enjoyment/enlightenment. However, Netvibes does offer the feed options of Reader, including adding custom feeds, and combines it with my other essential tools.
The one major drawback, at least for me, has to do with email viewing. While I can see whether I have an email, I have to leave Netvibes in order to read my messages, somewhat defeating my all-in-one solution. However, I’d recommend Netvibes to anyone who is seeking a way to combine specific resources in one place.
After personalizing Netvibes, I suspect it will be my first stop every morning. For some of you more accomplished mashers, Netvibes may be not be personal enough. However, I think it takes a big step towards personalize the ever-growing and all-consuming internet.