Thursday, February 01, 2007

Going Dotty

My Dots on BlueDot

Having embraced the Web 2.0 memes I was keen to compare BlueDot and When I first saw BlueDot I suspected it of being a bit lightweight. But at the same time I was getting a bit frustrated with's lack of depth and awkward interface (see 'Getting a taste for'). So last week I resolved to give BlueDot a go (BlueDot : My Dots).

Post registration BlueDot is keen to impress presenting three options for newbies:

add toolbar buttons

The toolbar buttons were easy to install and worked exactly as with

import from

Import from is a painless process that copies over all your bookmarks and their tags with the option of adding an "imported from" tag. It even offers the option of only imported new bookmarks. Allowing you to continue using and regularly syncronising your dots.

find friends

friends seems a strong word (contacts seems more useful) but essentially it's a mechanism for sharing your dots with specific users. You find someone who you'd like to be friends with and send a friend request. If they accept they will appear in your friends list and their latest links are added to your page. Choosing your friends carefully gives you a great tool for finding relevant sites.

There are a few features that aren't immediately apparent when you import your bookmarks :

  • The most useful for me is the ability to select an image for your dot. This is best explained with an example. You've found a page you want to dot. This page contains a number of images. You use your toolbar button to add this dot. A dialog appears with space for some notes and tags. But it also shows an image from the page with the option to select a different image from the page (or no image). The image you select will be displayed when you are browsing your dots. This visual reminder makes it very easy to quickly find a specific dot from your vast collection. My only grumble about images is that you can't change them later. Which means you need to take care selecting an image when adding the dot. It also means that imported bookmarks will never have an image.

  • Highlighting text when dotting a page will automatically add that text to your dot as a note. This is very similar to functionality with one exception; BlueDot appends 'quoted :' to the start of the note. It's a simple thing but it quickly distinguishes between your opinions and site hype.

  • BlueDot offers the option to rate your dots. This was one thing I really missed in in transitioning from my personal bookmarking system. It's a great feature but it needs to go further. Currently your rating is displayed but not really used. Ideally it would be great if you could filter and order your links based on their rating.

BlueDot is must better designed than Each dot is given a reasonable amount of room. Edit and delete buttons are easily spotted but not in the way. The rating stars and shared users is a bit cramped. But these are less used features. My one complaint is that the BlueDot banner and the user profile take up too much space of the screen real estate. When you add in the ads you need to scroll quite a bit before reaching the actual dots (which is the sites purpose). I can't help but think that a mini profile on the sidebar with a link to the full profile page would be useful but not intrusive. Ideally I think an option allowing users to choose between the current layout and the sidebar profile would be perfect.

In fact a bit more customisation would be wonderful. There is an option to change the default page background or to select a pattern. But the options are very limited. Reminding me of the worst cell color options for Excel.

Despite a few quibbles I'm essentially sold on using BlueDot. It has all the functionality of plus more with the added bonus that it's easy to find and to use.

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