Customizable Sites
September 10, 2004 9:13 AM   Subscribe

As part of an upcoming site redesign my office is considering the pros and cons of allowing visitors to customize content. Without going into too much detail such as what kind of content will be customizable and how, can folks recommend sites that they think do customization well?
posted by terrapin to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
my.yahoo.com

believe it or not
posted by Kwantsar at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2004


I was also going to say my yahoo. I mean, it's not much, but it's very clear what you can and can't do, how you move stuff around, how you pick what you can put where, how you look for more content etc. They can easily reserve some space so they can push their content at you, but in general, you can make it look like a fairly wide variety of things and yet the modular design means that users basically can't break it. Not reaching very high, but attaining what they reach for quite well.
posted by jessamyn at 9:21 AM on September 10, 2004


Ok. Maybe I did need to qualify this :) How about non-portal sites?

The site is a research organization that has a wide audience made up of students, professors, legislators and other policy makers, other researchers, reporters, etc, etc. We are considering everything from simply allowing folks to change the font and size, etc (like MeFi for instance) to allow users to decide what content to display on the homepage (like my.yahoo.com, I guess).

The "hows" of this are not as important to us as are the "whys." For instance, we have an obvious concern for branding as well as positioning, so even allowing for homepage customization will need to be done in moderation so as not to lose our ability to at least somewhat control the message.

Anyway, if someone has a suggestion or two, I'd appreciate it. Cheers!
posted by terrapin at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2004


Screw branding, and screw useless faux personalization. Unless, like Yahoo, you're THE portal for your customers, they won't care.

This is especially for the savvy, educated audience you're targeting. The very best brand is for your site to be as useful and functional as possible. Think Google - best brand in the world for the last few years, no ad agency. Readers will remember and be more loyal to a site that works well without any effort than one that allows some trivial degree of "personalization". Put your effort into making the standard configuration as fantastically great as possible.

Make your logo small and your branding unobtrusive compared to the content. Read Edward Tufte for usability and presentation advice.

If you really want to make your research results customizable in a useful way, provide an RSS feed that users can manipulate themselves in whatever tool they want. Screw branding - branding is what you do to a cow that's just like all the other cows. If you make your site just work great, you won't need "branding". People will remember and want to come back.
posted by bradhill at 11:34 AM on September 10, 2004


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