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Search Results without the Influence of Ad Dollars

PortalPanel library pageIn the search world, money decides who makes it to the top of search engine results and who remains buried amongst more than 4 billion of active websites.

If we take any highly competitive keyword, we’re going to see the same web traffic pattern: paid results at the top; followed by the results from the professionally optimized websites, news aggregators and news portals (reaching the 1st page of Google for a competitive keyword requires top dollar); truly amazing and informative websites that rank somewhat high, go afterwards; then the rest of the web content, stretching ad infinitum.

Most of the web content remains completely irrelevant and unseen by majority of web users, with the exception of some moving up the search totem pole thanks to its shareability on social networks, a favorable mention of a celebrity or similar random acts of digital gods.

This is not the best environment for academic research or any research, for that matter.


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How Design Influences Functionality and Decisions We Make

This time I’d like to point out some of the design improvements that were also implemented during the latest batch of updates.

Why focus on design? It’s a fair question; after all, one might think that applications like PortalPanel need to be mostly concerned with functionality. In reality, design makes PortalPanel truly unique and is as important as all the innovative features. Consider this post an insight into the creative minds of our designers and a glimpse behind the scenes of PortalPanel. In other words: this is why we do what we do.

Most designers these days strive to achieve what’s usually called a “clean” design. It’s especially important if you’re creating an app whose primary function is to help organize other people’s web finds. If your goal is to help others with being more organized, you better be pretty neat yourself, right?

Since we embarked on this mission, we had no choice but lead by example. Therefore, PortalPanel’s homepage is a true specimen of minimalism and simplicity. If you’re not a registered user, there’s absolutely no reason for you to linger… and that’s the whole point.  We have nothing to sell; you either want to give the app a shot or click away. Our home page design conveys this message; hence, it hasn’t really changed since the day one.

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This App Will Make Apartment Hunting or Any Comparison Shopping a Breeze

We built PortalPanel around one simple concept: it’s a web-based online bookmarking app that happens to have enough features to be anyone’s home page. It’s an app capable of holding all the web content that you consume on daily basis and yet never looking crowded; one page to rule them all, so to speak.

It doesn’t shoot fireworks; it won’t vacuum your floor. One could think that web bookmarking is a rather limited field. However, as PortalPanel grows in terms of the number of users and constant updates, we are amazed to see the ways our users and even our team members utilize the app. Sometimes we feel like overjoyed parents watching their offspring do something really cool and unexpected.

I invite each of you reading this to share your own story as to how you utilize PortalPanel. In order to jumpstart the conversation I’m going to tell about my own little discovery.

My wife and I are moving from Chicago to Los Angeles this summer. Naturally, the most important step for us was finding our new home. So we went to LA and did what any person looking to rent an apartment in the major U.S. city would do: started combing Craigslist.

Initially, we shared our findings via email messages or copied links into a word file so both of us could review the listings. Then we started calling landlords and property management companies, crossing off all the jerks, weirdoes, liars and other folks who gave us a vibe they were going to waste our time.

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Bid with eBay, Shop with Amazon, Organize with PortalPanel

eBay, Amazon, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes... What these seemingly different websites have to do with PortalPanel? Not much, but we know that they are important to you and so we made a priority to integrate their services into our online bookmarking tool set.

It’s all about making PortalPanel feature-rich without losing our main focus on creating the best user experience and top-notch tools for students, journalists, librarians, researchers and anyone who has ever found something interesting on the internet.

Next time you bid on one of the eBay auctions or embark on a journey to find the most awesome product on, bookmark the link to the item. Our smart link recognition system will identify the link source, interact with it and provide you with the information you need to complete your bidding and shopping successfully.

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Video Bookmarks: YouTube Revolution

portalpanel youtube linkToday, I’d like to kick off the series of posts with the most exciting, most useful and arguably coolest feature to date: video bookmarking.

This feature is part of smart link recognition, which is a fancy term of saying that PortalPanel can now distinguish between a link to your favorite news website and a link to your favorite band’s video on YouTube or Vimeo.

What’s so smart about it and why we call it a revolution? Because we’re crazy enough to believe that we’re on to something that might as well revolutionize (in our little two cent way) how people consume and share videos. And here’s why (a hint: it has something to do with bookmarking).

Our users are now able to bookmark and play YouTube and Vimeo videos on their PortalPanel account. In addition, they can share the videos on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn directly from the same window without having to go back to YouTube or Vimeo. This is huge!

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An update: 04/27/2013

There's another benefit of bookmarking your videos on PortalPanel: you can play them ads free. There are no guarantees this will last forever, but at the time of this post, all videos that we tested played ads free on PortalPanel even though they contained ads when played back on YouTube. Consider it a bonus and enjoy it while it lasts.

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How You Use PortalPanel and What it Means for its Future

Most members of PortalPanel use it to bookmark their web finds; links that lead to the content that is new to them (as opposed to frequently visited websites). These links are stored for later retrieval; oftentimes, users are clearly doing a research about a topic or a project. This is where browser bookmarking capabilities are very limited; from poor visualization to rigid organizational structure, browsers are not capable of providing an enjoyable experience for such a type of bookmarking; PortalPanel is and it delivers.

Interestingly enough, an absolute majority of members also have a set of bookmarked links (approximately 4-10 of them) that they visit very often. These are popular websites like YouTube, news outlets like BBC or CNN and services like Netflix. All they have to do is keep visiting these websites from their browser—It will remember their habits and will provide them with suggestions via autocomplete; and yet so many PortalPanel members (almost 80%) have links of this particular type bookmarked utilizing the app.

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