by C.G. Lynch

What’s Your Starting Point on the Web?

Jul 21, 20092 mins
Enterprise Applications

How you start the day on the Web likely varies by your age and profession.

At first glance, the news that Yahoo will redesign its home page to make it easy for users to compile their news, social networking information and other web services into one portal isn’t a groundbreaking or new idea. But it reiterates the notion that people want a unified view of their life on the Web, and how they want it presented to them will matter greatly.

As the New York Times reported, Yahoo has long said it wants to be a “starting point” for people on the Web. The challenge Yahoo has? So does everyone else. While we lack strong data that would allow us to know where this “starting point” is most prevalent, I think we’d find that it breaks down along generational and occupational lines.

In the age gap, I’d call myself in the middle. I’m young enough to avoid desktop apps as my starting point, but my Facebook homepage is still a little too much fun and games (which could change in the future as people share and use more serious content). So I start with Gmail because it links me to so many other things. Using Gmail Labs, I have an instant messaging app in Gmail (Google Talk), an overview of my calendar, a link to Reader (an RSS feed) and many documents that I store online.

I bet folks who are my elder start with Microsoft Outlook. People who are younger start with Facebook. Aggressive marketers start with Twitter. Geeks start with Friendfeed.

The mobile space complicates this starting off point, too. You could argue that people stay more caught up on e-mail and news on their phone while they’re taking the train to work, for example, and thus the propensity to see what their friends are doing (via a Facebook or Twitter) could be higher when they first launch a browser.

What’s important to you in a starting point? Is it the information? Connecting with friends and colleagues? My guess is it’s a little of both, but I’d like to know for a few things I’m working on.