What websites do you visit every… single… day? Facebook, where you read what your friends are doing? That’s one. Google, where you search for stuff – two! What else? Keeping track of more than a few “essential” daily web destinations is hard. While you could argue that they might not just be as essential as you thought, there are lots of examples of websites we want to create the habit of visiting daily to improve our lives. It can be a gallery of inspirational photos to make you a better photographer, or even health websites that give you the essentials on a condition you might have.
The geeks among you are shouting “Feeds”! RSS feeds were created as a technology to follow updates from websites, but they aren’t full proof because a lot of websites don’t actually support updates for all their content in the form of these feeds. For a lot of us, RSS feeds might even be an overkill.
If we, on the other hand, go for a more basic setup such as a number of starting browser tabs or a “custom homepage” web service such as the very simple yet powerful Start.Me, we might end up with piles of widgets to websites that we actually don’t want to follow every day. Instead of setting up your personal homepage with a service such as the free Start.Me, which we can do later on, let’s think of the websites you actually want to follow – daily! We’ll divide them into three columns in Start.Me, each dedicated to a particular “kind” of website we want to follow. You can easily add them through Start.Me’s interface and its “+” button!
1st Column: The News That You Need to Know (Max 3)
It’s Skift if you’re interested in digital tourism, Polygon for hardcore gamers, DailyKos for politics and Daring Fireball if you’re a true Apple zealot. It’s the essential read of the day that gives you all the news that you NEED to know, either because of your professional or personal interest.
In most cases, these news sources publish a lot of content each and every day so you’d better limit them to just a few, with my personal recommendation being no more than 3-4. Once upon a (RSS) time, I added at least a dozen websites that published AT LEAST a dozen articles a day. The result was a lot of stories I missed and even more that I just couldn’t keep up with, which was especially frustrating when multiple websites (in my case Techcrunch, Mashable and The Verge) covered the same tech stories.
Pro .ME tip: With news, you want to be on top of what’s going on, but you don’t need to read each individual story. Feel free to click the “Mark as read” button multiple times a day if needed.
2nd Column: The Thought Leaders That Inspire You (Max 5)
Now that you covered news websites that are mostly written by lots of people publishing lots of stories, lets focus on the other extreme. Individuals who don’t publish news as much as they give their opinion on a topic that interests you. These authors (bloggers?) will be the people who’s opinion shapes your own.
With the laser focus on a given topic, such as investing in early stage startups, a thought leader will show you what’s up next in your industry. While they don’t publish as often as news outlets do, it’s essential for you to know their thoughts before anyone else, in order to use the (in a lot of situations) insider information to your own benefit. Because a thought leader publishes just once in two weeks, you won’t visit their blog daily. If you, however, don’t have it in your Start.Me list of websites to follow, you could miss when they actually do publish something.
Pro .ME tip: Though leaders will probably write long-form articles and while they might not publish daily, don’t let their content just fade away. If you don’t have the time to read it, use a read later service such as Pocket or Instapaper?
3rd Column: Services That Aren’t Really “News” (Max 10)
One thing that I (or anyone else for that matter) could never sort out in a RSS reader are feeds of various web services that can give you useful information that isn’t necesarily a piece of news or a useful article. It’s “just” a piece of information probably added to a database, such as the one of job websites integrated into services like AngelList. It can be a game score, a company profile…
So why would you follow these services if they are a constant list of new bits of information? Aren’t we filling our Start.Me homepage with too much information that we can’t actually go through? You’re right, but if the point of the news columns was to “skim the news”, then the point of these services that we’ll place in the 3rd column or the bottom of our homepage is just to have a peek at them from time to time.
An example would be to follow who is posting jobs in your industry to discover the shifts in your competition. If they are trying to find a new marketing manager, it might be the right moment to supercharge your marketing efforts while they on-board their new hire!
Pro tip: To add a service to your Start.Me homepage, you’ll probably have to find its feed URL. In order to do so, look for feeds as an RSS icon or in the footer of your desired website. Better yet, use a “feed discovery” plugin that will notify you when it finds a feed on a particular website. You might be shocked to discover what information you can get to your personal homepage without clicking on a single new web address!
It should take you about 20 to 30 minutes to add all these websites to your Start.Me homepage. Don’t over do it and add a dozen more widgets you don’t need. As we said, these are the essential websites you need to follow daily. For the weekly and monthly ones, just add a new page to Start.Me and add the additional widgets there!