Web Toolbars

Now here’s an interesting topic that I have never blogged about before…. Web toolbars! I have the google one installed in the current browser I’m using (IE7). It’s installed there for an interesting reason…. when I search in the built in IE7 search box (that goes to MS’s search system), I get a certain set of results, if what I want doesn’t come up on the first try…. well I try the google search. So why not try the Google search first? To be honest it’s an interesting experiment and I am curious to know when the quality of MS searches actually changes for my daily use… until then though I don’t want to be too hindered in my web experience.

So what other toolbars do I use? Well I also have the Others Online toolbar installed…. I know it’s in beta and it slows down my browser, but I just open the firefox browser when I want speed. So why in the world do I have it installed then? Well the Others Online idea is kind of neat and a much better idea then similar offerings…. mostly because of the relevance of association, the tagging, and the multiple access points.

The folks over at Other’s Online sent me a few questions in preparation for there 1000 visitors or $1000 campaign. I thought it might be interesting to hear if your responses are any different….

Here’s what they sent me:

Do you want to increase the number of people who come to your blog?

Everyone wants increased readership to some degree, whether it be convincing grandma to get online and read the blog or getting into the technorati top 100, there are lots of different kinds of readership increases but I think everyone, including me, wants it to increase.

If so, why?

Hmm… To make money? – No ads on my site – (So no, but it’s not a bad idea though), Because I like it when people read what I write? – I blush when people introduce themselves as blog readers (so not sure if that is true), Build a Community? – I do like me some community!! (lunch 2.0, Fans of High End Storage, Fans of Exchange Server), Because I want to influence others? – I guess that begs the question of how intentional is any bloggers influence and isn’t the spirit of influential blogging that blogging is real and not intended to be influential? (so no, not a reason)

What activities have been most successful in increasing your users so far?

Yikes, isn’t that what all bloggers want? A successful way to increase readership? Well I get links from comments I leave – but I leave comments because I have something to say. I get readership from good content – there are clearly posts no one cares about and posts a lot of people care about. Of course there are also headline posts that play into SEO and people’s interest – for example this one “It’s not porn, but you need to follow this link” does very well and has an interesting twist. Blogging communities don’t seem to generate a lot of quality traffic, they are interesting but mostly play into people with a lot of time on their hands to aimlessly browse blog sites. Of course telling people works well as does having a few good anchor posts that can be referred back to a lot, for a lot of different reasons.

How often do you look at your stats, such as unique visitors, pageviews, clicks, etc.?

I guess some people never look at their stats – wait – I just don’t beleive there are people who have absolutely never looked at their stats (provided there is a built in stat system on the platform). I look at it daily (once when I wake up and once when I go to bed – at a minimum). I’m sorry it is cool to see them go up, and figure out what posts people are interested in and why similar posts don’t get similar traffic counts, etc, etc, etc – and no I am not a professional SEO guy.

The Others Online widget shows people associated to specific tags, which can be interests (hiking, billiards, wine, etc.) or community-related (2000Bloggers, global warming, NRA, etc.). What do you think of this?

Um, that’s the only reason I am interested in the tool :) The potential for customized interactions based on tagging are tremendous. Meeting people with similar interests is hard. For example my buddy Max over at Wishpot used to work over at Microsoft on the ActiveSync product. Well I happen to have a day job of working with Microsoft…. and the Exchange team specifically….and I am personally interested in ActiveSync because I happen to like mobile connectivity. So why is it that we haven’t run into each other (we would both tag ourselves with web 2.0, exchange, activesync, and Seattle amongst other things) – simple the online association of peoples interests and who else shares those interests isn’t there. I guess the harder problem is making that data useful. If it can be done though, I think it could be beneficial in a lot of areas other then blogging (e.g. facebook friend finding, zillow neighborhood searches for online friends, etc, etc, etc)

So there are tons of widgets available these days. Of the following, what would motivate you to place our widget in a *premium* position on your blog (or on your pages at all)?

Shoot, now they are getting into real product questions…. Why would anyone place widgets on their blog… Quite the sociological question and darnit, I’ve said I’m really not a sociologist, being one would be fun though, so I’ll try… I personally only put widgets on my blog if I think they are useful. I have a flickr widget and vodpod widget to share the media I record. I have a map widget for some odd reason. It would be neat to use a widget as a blogroll though, if I could add all of the people on my blogroll to the widget and visitors of my site could see the list of important blogs in my mind with the added benefit of seeing some metadata about that person’s interest… I think my readers, or anyone’s readers would dig that extra insight. Of course if people got to my blog from someone else’s similar widget then (yeah me)!!

Any other comments about the widget?

As with everything it needs to work with www.wordpress.com

Have you ever used our toolbar?

Silly question, see the answer to the last question – of course I’m using the toolbar :)

If you are no longer using the toolbar, why did you uninstall it?

Well I have installed and un-installed the thing three times now, I am really waiting to see better performance……

Ok, so we know toolbars can be a pain, and we have to offer as much value as we can so that people keep using it. What would motivate you to keep using our toolbar?

Darn right they can be! I think it is important to customize the toolbar so it’s not in the way, keep it FAST so my browsing experience doesn’t suck…. and of course interact with my browsing experience. When I’m on facebook I want to know what linked in users or other people I may be interested in adding to my friends, when I’m on my blog I want to know who else is online that is blogging – maybe I can blog about them, when I am in hotmail I want to access my address book from facebook and gmail.

If a community Web site you were a fan of (think MySpace, Facebook,
etc.) offered the toolbar for just that community, would you be more apt to download/use it?

I would be more apt to use a toolbar that would allow me to easily use multiple community web sites (contatenate friends/contacts, give online status across them, and recommend new friends on the respective system)

Any other comments about the toolbar?

Please update it so that it’s faster :)

How did you find out about Others Online?

Ignite Seattle! and of course all of those wonderful Lunch 2.0 events – you guys should fix up the toolbar and announce the release at an upcoming lunch 2.0!!

What’s your overall impression of us?

Hmm, that could be a dangerous question on a blog to answer… But I have talked with the major members of the others online team a few times and everytime I am overly impressed with the desire to enhance people’s online experience through the use of tagging and social interactions.


One Response to “Web Toolbars”

  1. Jordan Mitchell Says:

    Hi Josh, just a quick note to thank you for the candid thoughts/feedback and for putting it out there in the open (on your blog)! Yeah, I know our toolbar is a bit “alpha” for IE — ughh, entrepreneur anxiety. But I’m wondering if you’ve tried the toolbar for Firefox and whether that slows down your browsing experience too?

    We’ll get there. Thx for being a part of it. Lots of fun stuff we’ll release in the next month, which we’re excited about — but unfortunately doesn’t include IE toolbar revisions yet.

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