Web 2.0 – Rich User Experiences

Following on in this series, another one of the basic patterns of Web 2.0 identified by O’Reilly in 2004 is “Rich User Experiences”. HTML5 and AJAX are programming web development technologies offering exciting new user experiences. The arrival of Google Maps introduced AJAX, a new type of technology that allows information to be processed without reloading a Web page. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), a term coined by Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path, is a combination of several technologies, each thriving in its own right, and coming together in commanding new ways. Google Maps was one of the very first full-scale web based applications with “rich user interfaces and PC-equivalent interactivity”. “AJAX is also a key component of Web 2.0 applications” and O’Reilly gives examples “such as Flickr, … 37signals’ applications basecamp and backpack, as well as other Google applications such as Gmail and Orkut.”

Rich User Experience – Netvibes

A brilliant example for ‘Rich User Experiences’ applications is Netvibes, “a free web service that brings together your favorite media sources and online services. Everything that matters to you — blogs, news, weather, videos, photos, social networks, email and much more — is automatically updated every time you visit your page.” Netvibes uses RSS feeds and AJAX technologies.

Wikipedia describes Netvibes as “a multi-lingual Ajax-based personalized start page or personal web portal much like Pageflakes, My Yahoo!, A lot.com, iGoogle, and Microsoft Live. It is organized into tabs, with each tab containing user-defined modules” (sometimes called gizmos, widgets, or gadgets). Krowski defines widgets as, “small applications that display structured digital content, often through an RSS feed. Widgets can display content ranging from blog feeds, Flickr photos, and Google documents to event calendars and to-do lists. Similarly, these gizmos are an effective way of displaying updates of sporting events, stock quotes, and news. These tools can be utilized both on the Web or on the desktop. They can display as well as aggregate content, and they can be dropped into aggregators themselves. These versatile applications can be found on the new breed of Web 2.0 start pages, portals, and community Web sites.”

The “top content” suggested by Netvibes are Artists, News, Business, Sport, TV, movies & music, Tools & technology, Fun & games, Lifestyle, Shopping, Twitter, and Flickr. Information is easily organised into your own tab layout. Netvibes has added the ability to make public start pages that can be used to represent a company or organization as a branded portal and marketing device. Consequently, major corporations such as Time and USA Today, have created these Netvibes Universes for their content.

After initial set up Netvibes immediately displayed an impressive array of Australian news – the ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Herald Sun and The Age – national headlines. Additionally, it revealed the local Aussie weather forecast and Australian sports news. ‘Flickr Most Interesting Photos’ was more captivating than the “3 Foot Ninja” under ‘Fun & games’.

If necessary, there are FAQs, an extensive ‘Help’ (in English and French), and ‘Troubleshooting common issues’ menus. For the experts, there is a ‘Widget developers’ to “use Netvibes to build your own widgets and distribute them on Netvibes and other platforms”. The Netvibes ‘Getting Started’ page mentions, there are at least 40 Essential Widgets to add to your page and access at your convenience.

Significantly by using Web 2.0 tools such as AJAX, developers can offer users a more compelling and richer experience. You re-mix the Web site.

More to follow… please stay tuned


Bechhofer, S. (n.d.). History of The Semantic Web.
Kroski, Ellyssa (2008). Web 2.0 for Librarians and Information Professionals. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.
Netvibes – Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://www.netvibes.com
http://eco.netvibes.com  (Widgets Directory)
http://twitter.com/netvibes  (Twitter Updates)
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html
Wikipedia – Netvibes Retrieved March 28, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netvibes
Wikipedia – RSS feeds Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_%28file_format%29 Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_syndication
Wikipedia – widget Retrieved March 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/widget

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