I began a comparison of personalized startpages: My Yahoo vs Pageflakes vs Google/ig vs... I wanted to select a given task, and then try the different brands to see how well they serve that purpose. So, I chose job hunting; which personal portal is best for organizing and streamlining a job search? Seems like a project with plenty of room for search, feeds, aggregation, and productivity tools.
Today, I worked with my.yahoo.com and pageflakes.com. Performance would be difficult to quantify, I knew, so I invented the ever-so-casual "ClunkFactor". Clunkiness is here defined as the number of modules/widgets/feeds that could be added to a personalized home page, divided by the number of page loads it took to get there. This reflects the bias that in Web 2.0, page loads are bad, and page updates are good. I cleared browser history for Firefox 22.214.171.124, and began building a job pages.
Site Modules Pageloads* my.yahoo.com 7 46 pageflakes.com 11 29
* In Pageflakes, the pageloads include signup for box.net, uploading a resume, accessing Gmail, and accessing Web pages with Bitty Browser. For My Yahoo, those 46 page loads were chewed up just by searching for feeds and adding them.
If you do not let an entire page load, with all feeds, my Yahoo will not allow you to change pages. So, if your default page is News, but you want to change to jobs, you are stuck waiting until each feed loads, for the page menu to respond to input. Workaround: make your default page very sparse. When changing from full pages, grin and bear it.
I loaded the HotJobs module, and noticed several disadvantages.
Finding those seven feeds with My Yahoo was frustrating. Many feeds that turned up in search results were too general, such as all jobs in Columbus, or too specific, such as HR managers in Dubuque. I could not really add useful job searches without leaving my yahoo, and searching on job sites. I did not come across any functional non-feed modules that would be a handy accompaniment to the feeds. C+.
Pageflakes essentially has only one URL, which would help toward the reduced page loads. Tabs are always visible, and clicking them "turns the page" without changing the URL in the browser address bar. Adding a new page is very quick. When adding content to that new page, Pageflakes distinguishes between feeds and modules. This distinction is unclear on Yahoo, to the uninitiated, and quite confusing on live.com.
Modules or "flakes" as they're called here, are located by browsing a gallery of 90 or so items. Pageflakes will need to implement some kind of search, as it's unreasonable to expect users to read all 90 widget descriptions. A scarcely noticeable dropdown menu in the top right does help. It allows you to select tags such as "productivity", "fun" and "communication", to see a subset of the flakes.
At pageflakes.com, productivity includes tools for productivity. This is better than live.com, where "productivity" means "shopping". Here's the Pageflakes productivity lineup:
Clicking on a feed in your startpage opens the Pageflakes RSS/Web Reader View. It overlaps other modules.
Browse your saved feeds in the left column, view titles in the right column, and read description (rss) or view Web page in the bottom pane. Here, I have aggregated advanced search feeds from Yahoo HotJobs, and simplyhired. An interface like this allows for the rapid digestion of daily feeds or search results. With my.yahoo.com, these feeds would be stuck in their little boxes, and to read any full listings would require a new page-open. In the upper right corner of the Pageflakes feed reader, you can click buttons to toggle between rss description and original Web page, or click the X to collapse the reader. That's more like it.
Round 1 goes to Pageflakes for less clunk and more functionality with fewer page loads. The broken drag-and-drop positioning in Firefox is serious. While the Pageflakes team is fixing that, I might be able to live without Firefox tabs for this one activity. The tabs, and the goodies, are all in the page.
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