Customize Your Google Home Page Now!
by Harold Davis
Related link: http://www.google.com/ig
You can now customize your Google home page (the program is in Google "beta" within the Google Labs).
I like what you can do, but this is still only portal-lite. Features are more or less limited: you can add headlines from Google News, Slashdot, the New York Times, and the BBC, add links to your Gmail account, and move these things around on your custom page in a whiz-bang fashion. (I should also mention stock quotes, local weather which is not yet operable, movie reviews, and more.) The whole thing can be toggled on and off - the off position is referred to as "Classic Google"!
As I said, I think the ability to customize your Google home page is pretty cool. Why not be able to use all that white space on the Google search page to provide some quick info? It lets me learn some things that are important to me at a glance everytime I open my Google home page (which obviously I do quite a bit).
The new interface is minimalist in the Google UI spirit. But the mainstream media, such as the New York Times (Google Moves to Challenge Web Portals), are portraying the move as a step towards the portalization of Google, and a salvo in the "war" with Yahoo! and MSN.
I see things a bit differently. I already use Google as a kind of portal, meaning that it is my home page (and the Google Toolbar sits always ready for use where ever I surf). I like Google's laser-focused functionality and uncluttered look, and I'm not particularly eager to have Google start offering a la Yahoo everything from soup to nuts to hot dates.
The new customizations strike me as an OK but minor tweak to the interface rather than a paradigm shift toward portal-dom. Where I think it is going is that undoubtedly Google will be adding multiple syndication feeds as viewing options to this page. What a great way to generate more AdSense revenue! Now I understand why Google is putting ads in RSS and Atom feeds.
What do you think of the new Google custom home page? What features would you like to see? Do you prefer Classic Google?