Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked Back

googleretro   Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked BackHome pages have perhaps never been less relevant than now, the age of tabbed browsing and browsers capable of restoring previous sessions. Since I decided to make Google my home page in 2003, I’ve never really thought of switching.

There are some good reasons for my decision to make Google my home page. Google’s home page is clean, loads quickly and allows me to perform a search instantly if I so choose. Combine this with links to services I use constantly including Google News and Gmail and I’ve got a solid place to start my browsing. Maybe someday I’ll find a better alternative, but for now there’s nothing that suits me quite like Google’s ultra-clean home page.


But the main reason I decided to make and keep Google as my home page is that I’ve never found anything I liked better. Let’s discuss a few of the alternatives out there, and then give you guys a chance to offer a better way.

Portals suck

Technology is hard to keep up with, let alone predict. Although pundits who claimed web portals would be the media empires of the future were laughably wrong, they really can’t be blamed for that.

Web portals were supposedly going to be everyone’s homepage of choice. If you’re not sure what a web portal is, check out AOL or MSN. These sites offer not only a search bar, but a variety of headlines and links to other online services.

Compare this to Google and the difference as clear as night and day: Google is a search engine, first and foremost. Besides the Google logo and a few small links to other services, Google.com is clean.

This cleanliness is the main reason I made Google my home page. When I start my browser, I don’t want distractions in the form of news headlines or gadgets. I want at most to search for something, and I want whatever my home page is to load quickly so I can get to it right away. That means I like Google, and hate portals.

To point out what I mean, here’s Google:

googledoodle   Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked Back

And here’s MSN:

msn   Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked Back

Google is clean, doesn’t present anything I don’t need — allowing me to quickly start a search if I want to.

But of course, portals aren’t the only alternative to Google. Let’s explore some other alternatives and see why Google comes out on top.

Bing’s alright, but not perfect

There’s actually a lot to love about Bing as a home page. It’s free of clutter and, unlike Google, features amazing photography every single day. Check it out:

bing   Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked Back

Seeing how clean this is, why wouldn’t I use it as my home page? And no, it’s not depression about the USA defeating my home and native Canada. The problem is that those photos do take some time to load, and I’m looking for an instant home page. Picky, I know, but those are my rules and I’m sticking too them.

The other reason is that, while Bing’s search is improving every day, I still prefer Google’s search result to that for Bing’s.

Is this just my opinion? Absolutely. Is my opinion correct? In my humble opinion, yes: my opinion is always objectively correct. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong in the comments below.

Nope, no iGoogle

So if portals are out, and Bing’s elminated, why not go with Google’s own custom home-page service, iGoogle?

First of all, because it’s a portal. Yes, it’s different from most other portals in that I can customize it however I like, but that doesn’t change the fact that it takes longer than a second to load and features widgets I’m not really interested in.

Additionally, iGoogle has a habit of preventing me from seeing Google’s famous doodles. For a couple week’s now I’ve been enjoying artistic renderings of Olympic athletes. I know it’s silly, but I don’t want to miss those.

Fav4.org is a close second

fav4   Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked Back

I have to admit, if there’s a site close to replacing Google as my home page it’s [NO LONGER WORKS] fav4. This site features nothing but four icons that link directly to prominent web sites around the net. Best of all, pressing the numbers one through four on your keyboard loads a site accordingly.

This site meets all my qualifiations: it’s clean, loads quickly and serves as a launching point to my browsing without feeding me useless information.

Unfortunately, I can’t find four sites amongst the options listed that I want quick access to. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one, though.

Conclusion

I’ve yet to find a home page better than Google. It’s clean, it links to service I use constantly and–last but not least–allows me to launch a search as soon as my browser opens.

What about you guys? Do you have a favorite home page? What is it? Help me replace Google by informing me in the comments below!

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50 Comments -

Shree

Found this website very useful. http://www.3x3links.com/
Clean uncluttered, and Customizable.

Sanjay

I use Google Chrome and the best homepage, if you can call it that, is the preview of your most frequented sites. But yes, on other browsers, if I used them, google homepage is the best.

addrian

I don’t understand this “google start page” thing….
1. if you want to search somerhing, all the today browsers have the search field next to the address field. You can configure the search engine according to your preference
2. More usefull to me is chrome start page – the thumbnails to the most visited sites. I believe the other browsers have some kind of “extension” that can do the same. I would like to have a couple more thumbnails in Chrome, though.
3. For IE (that I have to use at work) I made myself a home page, a table with liks to the most used sites.

Totally agree with the oppinion in the article about the portals – including iGoogle …

HubPagesReport

Great idea!!

derek

google was my homepage (and new tab page) before i learned how to use searchbar right next to addresbar which is now standard in every browser. Now I have some kind of speed dial automatically showing most used sites by me.

Roy

I just use a blank page. Why have anything, unless I am going to use that page at the beginning?

ito

I used google also for my homepage since God knows when, but then a couple of weeks ago I found out about fav4 .org and switched quickly to it for the same reasons (minimalist, pretty and fast). Even though it did not have all the sites I needed yet. It will have them and it will be customizable. I’ll wait for that. That’s why I tried Fastdial for Firefox and customized it to look like fav4. Instead of 4 I chose 5 sites and put the ones I most use. Also you can change the background, so I captured the fav4 one and with a little photoshop manipulation I made it fit within fastdial. Also you can change the picture in fastdial of the icons to whatever you want it to show. I went to the fav4 site and captured those ones that i liked and customized them again in photoshop and made them fit.

Now I have the simple and clean layout of fav4 with my 5 most used sites. It loads as fast as fav4 and it looks like it. Play with all it’s options if you decide to try it out.

Hope this helps.

Shree

Found this website very useful. http://www.3x3links.com/
Clean uncluttered, and Customizable.

ito

Oh and almost forgot. It can add search fields that you can customize. I don’t use it since in firefox I have the google search right beside the address bar.

Cheers

Shree

3x3Links is a Clean, Un cluttered and Customizable. Since, I found them, That is my home page.

ito

I use 3x3in srware iron. I like it so far, but when fav4 becomes more customizable I’l probably make the switch. :)

ARR

The best home page you can have is your own local html page if you can make it. Its fast and more customizable than ever.

ToddMichaelGreene

Thanks for this article. I was unaware of fav4. I’ve never liked my ISPs default homepage. I’ve now customized fav4 and made it my default homepage.

Gary

I use Google Bookmarks but only have a bookmark for my ten or so most frequently used sites. This way you get the Google search box as well as direct links to your favourite sites – http://www.google.com/bookmark

I am

iGoogle is now showing the doodles near the search box.

And you can set it like Fav4 – with the added benefit that you get to choose the 4/3/5 favs you want.

Gary

I use Google Bookmarks but only have a bookmark for my ten or so most frequently used sites. This way you get the Google search box as well as direct links to your favourite sites – http://www.google.com/bookmarks/

Jaffa

I use Google Chrome and its default homepage has everything I need! It loads in an instant, shows your 8 most frequently visited sites and is customisable (you can put sites in any order, pin or remove them!) and you can search Google using the address bar!

Cant beat it!

Dr Phil Good

Opera speed dial.
I know it doesn’t automatically set your most frequent sites like chrome, but it uses the same keyboard shortcuts as fav4 (Ctrl 1-9) and they are active even when the page isn’t open.
It also syncs cross platform from windows to Linux to portable(hella handy).
And it does all this without addons.

Axel

I discovered http://www.start.io by Peter Vidani, head designer at TUMBLR a few days ago and man am I happy!!!
Clean, customizable, useful homepage.

Axel

I discovered http://www.start.io by Peter Vidani, head designer at TUMBLR a few days ago and man am I happy!!!
Clean, customizable, useful homepage.

jason

Google Reader! I honestly don’t “visit” websites anymore. If I find a site with content I like and they don’t have an RSS feed I will never visit it again. With Reader I get all my daily info and with the inline preview add on for Firefox if they only show partial content in the feed I quickly view the content inline and never have to leave Reader.

Mike Burleson

Jason, you can also add those sights to Google that don’t show RSS feeds. Just type the url into Reader like you would a Feed, and Google will let you know when that site is updated. I recently discovered this myself and it is very handy.

brian

Unfortunately this feature needs more work. I added just one site and haven’t heard a thing on Reader and it has been updated.

bubs353

And also the default four links in fav4.org is changeable and I’m sure you know it. :)

Ben

I use Symbaloo.com – It has everything!
It’s like an iPhone Interface (GUI).

Here is a screenshot of my startpage:
http://i.imgur.com/Qndbn.jpg

bubs353

Yes Google is my favorite too. The fact that you want to launch the website you like easily from Google homepage, making a few adjustment in the iGoogle customizing might be better than Google default.

bubs353

And also the default four links in fav4.org is changeable and I’m sure you know it. :)

Ben

http://keyboardr.com is also great (a better Google)

Ben

I use Symbaloo.com – It has everything!
It’s like an iPhone Interface (GUI).

Here is a screenshot of my startpage:
http://i.imgur.com/Qndbn.jpg

Ben

http://keyboardr.com is also great (a better Google)

Justin Pot

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. You guys are amazing!

I think I’ll do a follow-up article just highlighting the best home pages suggested here…and in the process decide which of your suggestions is worthy of replacing Google as my home page. Stay tuned!

Diamond

Justin, I’ve been doing the same as you myself, and back in the old days I wrote my own browsers. I thought this was a great way to ask folks what their HP was. I live in my own FASTDIAL portal page for work, or the Google home page.

I use FASTDIAL to create a 3×3 matrix of all work related websites I need to attend to etc. The first cell of FASTDIAL brings up a custom 3×12 HTML portal page with ALL my “can’t live without” news, special, other reference sites. Each cell is a different color that’s about it.

Ryan Bolz

Genieo (http://www.Genieo.com)just came out of private beta recently and is definitely up there in the contenders to replace your browser’s homepage Google fix.

For sake of easy reference, you can call it a “homepage” but the tech behind it is what makes Genieo really stand out as novel. Think Feedly + iGoogle mashup fueled by the same stuff behind behavioral marketing. The most concise technical description I’ve heard is “Behaviorally Adaptive Ad-Hoc Personalized News”.

Personally, I think it’s one of those rare game changers that not only aids us in a task, but rethinks the task itself. Having beta tested Genieo for several months, it seamlessly integrated in to my day to day activity and has become a resource that I can rely on to deliver me news, blogs, tweets, etc relevant to my recent web browsing habits.

The Google search bar is front and center… but if you’re anything like me, I use the search bar integrated in my browser anyways and have browser addons, widgets, flash/air apps and instant messengers that all can keep me connected to all Google’s services and then some.

Long story short, I used Google the same way you did b/c nothing else was quick and relevant to my needs. Genieo changed that. If anything, it’s so new it’s still shiny and worthy of MakeUseOf attention.

Mike Harris

Seconding others in this thread. I do “about:blank”, the search bar hidden, and I’ve got Google queries mapped as a Firefox keyword to a question mark. So if I have a query, I do “? [query]” right there in the address bar and I’m good to go … otherwise, the ultimate in minimalism and zero page load, Mr. about:blank.

Ryan Bolz

Genieo (http://www.Genieo.com)just came out of private beta recently and is definitely up there in the contenders to replace your browser’s homepage Google fix.

For sake of easy reference, you can call it a “homepage” but the tech behind it is what makes Genieo really stand out as novel. Think Feedly + iGoogle mashup fueled by the same stuff behind behavioral marketing. The most concise technical description I’ve heard is “Behaviorally Adaptive Ad-Hoc Personalized News”.

Personally, I think it’s one of those rare game changers that not only aids us in a task, but rethinks the task itself. Having beta tested Genieo for several months, it seamlessly integrated in to my day to day activity and has become a resource that I can rely on to deliver me news, blogs, tweets, etc relevant to my recent web browsing habits.

The Google search bar is front and center… but if you’re anything like me, I use the search bar integrated in my browser anyways and have browser addons, widgets, flash/air apps and instant messengers that all can keep me connected to all Google’s services and then some.

Long story short, I used Google the same way you did b/c nothing else was quick and relevant to my needs. Genieo changed that. If anything, it’s so new it’s still shiny and worthy of MakeUseOf attention.

Dotan

Portals are messy because they have tones of irrelevant data.
How about a personal portal that combines your RSS reading (as Jason suggest), your twitter and Facebook feeds (All Fav4 fans), and you recent navigation sites (Chrome fans)?
Checkout Genieo (http://www.genieo.com) – Is it good enough to beat the clean blank page?

Dotan

Portals are messy because they have tones of irrelevant data.
How about a personal portal that combines your RSS reading (as Jason suggest), your twitter and Facebook feeds (All Fav4 fans), and you recent navigation sites (Chrome fans)?
Checkout Genieo (www.genieo.com) – Is it good enough to beat the clean blank page?

Faiz Sheikh

Very nice article… very well distinguished

I never thought of changing my homepage to anything other than Google.

ernesto

obviously, you don´t know the “New Tab Page” extension …

brian

GREAT article. The crazy thing is, I feel exactly how Justin does, right down to wanting to see the Google artwork that appears from time to time. I want it clean, fast and to be a jumping off point for me.

rchard2scout

I use the chrome New Tab page, it has everything I need.

Ben l Awesome Wallpapers

I use Speed Dial, an addon for Firefox, that lets you have direct access to your most visited websites.

Here is a screenshot of it: http://easycaptures.com/fs/uploaded/257/2225748656.png

Ben

I use Speed Dial, an addon for Firefox, that lets you have direct access to your most visited websites.

Here is a screenshot of it: http://easycaptures.com/fs/upl

Yaron Fishman

I would assume that each individual would have different preferences as to what his homepage should be like. Google is nice and clean but it only offers one functionality: Search.

Some may prefer their homepage to be more exciting, informative, maybe even be customized to reflect their own personal interests; present them with headlines and articles from favorite sites, updates on topics they specifically care about, selected Facebook items and tweets from their contact and more.

At Genieo we created a personalized homepage which does exactly that. Genieo’s homepage is generated exclusively, for each individual user, according to his\her specific personal interests – and it automatically and continuously updates its display of information items, such as those mentioned above, accordingly.

Yaron Fishman
VP Product@Genieo

ito

This is what it looks like.

http://img534.imageshack.us/im

K

I had about:blank for a short time and didnt care for it. Tried iGoogle for a while. Had google search for quite a while and liked it. Recently changed to
http://www.stickyscreen.org/
and also set it to show on each new tab…to serve as reminders and like that a lot. Might check out some of the suggestions above and see.

K

I had about:blank for a short time and didnt care for it. Tried iGoogle for a while. Had google search for quite a while and liked it. Recently changed to
http://www.stickyscreen.org/
and also set it to show on each new tab…to serve as reminders and like that a lot. Might check out some of the suggestions above and see.

Jer

Can’t think of a better homepage than the Refdesk at refdesk.com.

Jer

Can’t think of a better homepage than the Refdesk at refdesk.com.