I had gotten an email from the Netvibes team to take a look at the site last week and signed up and took a quick spin around. I finally had a chance to explore further tonight. The buzz around Netvibes is well warranted.1 In previous posts, I’d been writing about the desire for tools that make it easier to navigate our variety of information sources. Netvibes provides a fast and efficient interface from which to do just that.
Netvibes is “a very simple and intuitive web 2.0 customizable homepage, rss reader/aggregator, podcast player, and much more.” Perhaps it’s because I was deeply involved with portals several years ago2 but when I first saw Netvibes, I thought it was going to act mostly like a portal page – with little channels of info that sent you off on various links or opened new browser windows to the sites. But once I started adding my feeds to Netvibes and customizing my content modules, the AJAX-enhanced functionality quickly set it apart from the older paradigm.
Netvibes interface is simplified but not simplistic by any means. Adding content is fast and functional and the on-page reading of RSS feeds a pleasure. I might make the close action (x) a bit more prominent when the user is in reading mode, but otherwise, the experience was so fun I might ditch all my other RSS readers and just use Netvibes. One of the best features is the ability to listen to podcasts inline on the page (also available for download as an mp3). Just when I had gotten into Odeo, Netvibes is here to lure me away.
The site certainly has functional similarities with Google’s personal page, but Netvibes provides the niche content, design, and approach that web 2.0 users and bloggers are looking for. For example, Google has a rather mainstream selection of feeds, including a “Lifestyle” channel with MSNBC Travel and eDiet news while Netvibes’ Feed Directory contains podcasts from IT Conversations and a featured feed from TechCrunch and MAKE: blog – clearly, the new web geek’s choices du jour. Now, I’m just looking forward to being able to share my Netvibes page/view with others.
1They’re cruising up del.icio.us popular and being hit on eHub quite a bit.
2 I designed the first generation of the MyUB university portal.
- Kunal on September 24, 2005 at 08:07 AM:
It looks like a way better version of start.com (a MS project). I love your site – ultra usable.
- Emily on September 25, 2005 at 09:01 PM:
I agree. The MS start site attempts to do the same but without the same ease of use and efficiency. Plus, something about all the flickering arrows at start.com makes me uneasy. And, thanks, I enjoyed your site too!
- sb on September 30, 2005 at 11:15 AM:
There’s a problem… There are three features that really made the web stand out: the back button, bookmarks, and the ability to send links to friends… Netvibes went so overboard with Ajax that it broke all three. Sure, it lets the user drag frames around, but it still looks like a step backward to me.
- Emily on October 01, 2005 at 07:59 PM:
I think Netvibes is trying to serve a different purpose as a specific web application service for RSS. For me, the Ajax and xmlHTTPRequest functionality replaces what the browser used to do (which in my view has been fairly limiting anyway). Rather than using my back button to wait for the previous page to load, Netvibes delivers the content without refresh in an instant window that is easily browsed. It eliminates the need to use the back button altogether. I use Netvibes to read RSS feeds and listen to podcasts in one location without the need to really bookmark (I use del.icio.us and blinklist for that). It might be nice if Netvibes had a bookmarking feature tied into one of these existing services, or if it became a feature inherent to also reading your RSS, you could opt to share bookmarks on your public Netvibes view.
As for the drag and drop functionality, I see that as a side feature. The step forward exists in Netvibes ability to provide a fast and efficient, customizable web service for reading and aggregating RSS content, something the browser has yet to offer.
- Javed Khan on August 13, 2007 at 11:50 PM:
Netvibes is a great homepage and I use it a lot because of the rich scripts of ajax. One thing that would be really nice to have is to improve the bookmark section. currently it only add/import one bookmark at a time but most of the people have a lot of their bookmarsk sitting on their computer and if they want to display and put them online then it takes time. I hope Netvibes will come up soon with some sophisticateed way of handling the bookmarks on the homepage.