#4 Netvibes

netvibes screenshot

Netvibes provides an advanced dashboard solution for your new tab page. The feature richness on a somewhat complex UX and slow performance.

Performance:
Takes a few seconds to load. When using this start page, the slowness is quite apparent, it isn’t the servers – being robust and able to handle traffic; it’s the extra widgets, special effects and functionality that really weight down on the platform, making it slow. It’s a heavy one.

UX:
The website is fairly clean, no ads, a whole bunch of links at the bottom of the page – but those are quite neatly organized and can also be hidden from view. A lot of space is wasted for no particularly good reason, with a tiny search bar in the middle of all this space at the top of the page.

The top bar is mismatched in color and style, and cannot be customized or hidden. Working with the platform is intuitive, but sometimes some basic functionality is missing (take for example re-organizing your bookmarks, it can’t be done!) – they can only be sorted. Also, some extra features that get in the way of useful features (take for example search by tag within your bookmarks – it’s easier to run a google search). All in all some of the UI is good, some is poor. Another disappointment is that tabs get stuck sometimes and page must be refreshed.

Features:

  • Large collection of gadgets to choose from – ranging from an email assistant, Facebook feed, Analytics feed, Todo list, Flight list, Weather, Alexa, Ebay, Calculator and thousands more.
  • Bookmarking is not that easy, and the bookmark tags & tag search functionality just gets in the way. Categories for bookmarks would have been much better. Bookmarks open in a new window, nice.
  • Advanced RSS capabilities

Export of your data
Super easy. Just click settings & download. Voila.

Available for:
All major browsers

Price:
Free to use. Premium version starts at $2 per month.

Try http://www.netvibes.com now!

#7 Symbaloo

symbaloo sceenshot

Symbaloo is an icon-based start page, where colorful images serve as links on a dark background.

Performance:
Loads quite quickly.

UX:
This start page has a nice and clean design. Background can be changed to white if the black is too gloomy after a while.
Playing with the tiles can be satisfying, but only to a point. It takes a long time to add each link, and there is a limit of 52 bookmarks per page.

The central 8-tile space is also a bad decision for usability purposes, because every time I want to read another RSS feed, I have to click it for it to appear in the center square. This defeats the purpose – might as well open in a new window. Search also appears there, but disappears when reading an RSS feed. At least links open in a new window.

Features:

  • Bookmarking
  • RSS feeds
  • A couple of basic widgets to choose from
  • Custom backgrounds
  • Pages can be shared

Export:
No export available

Available for:
All major platforms and browsers

Pricing:
Free to use. Paid versions available for Educational organizations and Businesses.

Try Symbaloo now.

#8 Protopage

protopage-11383062

Performance:
Quite fast, no complaints. A couple of seconds to load, but when loaded runs very fast & smooth.

UX:
The interface is mostly intuitive and fast. That’s awesome. Although the interface appears to be cluttered, most widgets can be easily deleted and cleaned up, and theme & colors are configurable. Some functionality, however, is very poorly implemented. (Take for example adding bookmarks) If you’ve got quite a few bookmarks you’re in for a nightmare. Another striking problem is the fluid state of everything: it’s like you’re constantly in edit mode, so half the time I’m changing my layout or my bookmarks without any intention to do so. True, it’s just as easy to change back, but why can’t everything just stay in place once I set it right?

Features:

  • Large collection of gadgets available – including number of user-designed gadgets
  • Bookmarking
  • RSS feeds
  • Export:
    No export functionality is availanblebookmarks? Forget it: no backup, no option to ever export them. If this start page dies, all your bookmarks die with it.

    Available for:
    All major browsers

    Pricing:
    Free to use. Paid version for $30 a year (to remove the ads).

    Try Protopage now.

#9 igHome

igHome

igHome tries to emulate and restore as much as possible of the old functionality and design of iGoogle (retired by Google in 2013).

Performance:
The website is a bit slow. Once you remove some of the default widgets and news feeds it accelerates a bit.

UX:
There is a huge banner and a few lines of clutter on the bottom of the screen, other than that it’s mostly clean.

Edit processes are unnecessarily long and annoying. Adding widgets takes a long time, and even removing them takes too long (page has to be refreshed). Organizing bookmarks is impossible: can’t drag them or create categories. For a start page I find this to be a big problem; The bookmarks simply auto-sort alphabetically. The color choices for most widgets are terrible and mismatched, and the design is quite poor.

Features:

  • Bookmarking
  • RSS feeds
  • Lots of gadgets (e.g. weather, traffic, financial) to choose from

Export:
No export options for your bookmarks.

Available for:
All major platforms and browsers.

Pricing:
Free to use.

Try igHome now!

#10 My Yahoo

My Yahoo - Personal dashboard

My Yahoo is a customizable web page with news, stock quotes, weather, and many other features.

Performance:
The loading speed of My Yahoo is acceptable – though not very fast.

UX:
The user interface is clean and well designed. Rearranging your page content is simply done using drag ‘n drop. Adding and/or removing content is easy as well. All in all, My Yahoo provides an excellent user experience.

Looking for one place to go for updates from all of your favorite sites, blogs, scores, quotes, and other info? My Yahoo is extremely customizable, and you can choose exactly what you want to see.

Features:

  • Bookmarks
  • News
  • Stock quotes
  • Weather
  • Horoscopes
  • Custom backgrounds

Export:
It’s not possible to export your bookmarks and feeds from your My Yahoo account.

Available for:
Web (all browsers)

Pricing:
Free to use.

Try My Yahoo now!

start.io

start.io screenshot

start.io offers a simplistic start page with basic white links on a dark background, with some colored stripes for coloring. Simplicity above all else here.

Performance:
Slowness is apparent when adding bookmarks, when switching tabs, and when saving or modifying options. Start page access is fast.

UX:
Can’t get any cleaner than a completely empty page. It’s your bookmarks, nothing else. Superb.

The bookmarks setup is very straightforward, it’s comfortable to use, navigate, and modify. It’s actually separate from the start page, like an admin panel, so it doesn’t allow moving categories around the page & you have to use trial-and-error to make your start page look the way you want it. Not good. The worst part is that links open in the same window, not smart for a start page. A few other annoyances: if you accidentally click a category, all the other bookmarks disappear, and when you click the start page logo, you go to the admin panel instead of the start page. A few themes are available, but the option was quite hidden in the admin panel.

Features:
Just bookmarks. No widgets, rss feeds or any other options to fill your new tab page.

Export:
It’s possible to export your bookmarks.

Available for:
All major platforms and browsers

Pricing:
Free to use.

Try start.io now.

My Way

myway

My Way is a web portal and search engine like Yahoo!, but without any banners, pop-ups or spam. Update: Since December 2015 the service seems to be discontinued.

Performance:
The loading speed of the My Way page is acceptable most of the time.

UX:
The user interface feels like it’s 1994 again. My Way have taken a very basic and minimalistic approach. This may work for some people, but it’s one of the worst designed personal homepages I’ve seen. Adding/editing stuff is easy enough, it just doesn’t look that good.

Features:

  • Bookmarks
  • News
  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Horoscopes

Export:
It’s not possible to export your bookmarks and feeds from your My Way account.

Available for:
Web (all browsers)

Pricing:
Free to use.

Try My Way now!