Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Web Browser?

As part of my ongoing series on Best Web 2.0 tools, so far I’ve covered Google Tools and How to use Your Twitter Network For Help & Providing Recommendations. Web browser featured highly in my Twitter network and readers “best 3 Web 2.0 tools” so let’s talk about web browsers.

Web Browsers

Your web browser, originally called Internet Browser, is your window to the web and impacts on how effectively you interact with content, your social networks and websites on the Internet.

A common misconception is you can only run one web browser. Wrong! Web browsers are just programs; just as you can install/use several graphics or word processing programs on your computer so can you have several web browser without causing any problems.

Just because a web browser is incorporated in the operating system of your computer doesn’t mean you have to stick to using that one web browser. There are quite a few free open source web browser that can enhancing your browser experience.

Whilst Internet Explorer dominates, contributing 74.88 % of market share in February 2008, FireFox is increasing in popularity. Check out this article for a comparison of web browsers.

browser2008.jpg

web2008a.jpgStatistics used in graph above were taken from Market Share Report prepared by Net Applications. If you compared these statistics to results from Google Analytics, or similar application, for browser usage by visitors to your blog it’s likely that FireFox will feature highly (Note: Statistics for Flock are normally combined with FireFox).

FireFox

Firefox, a free open source web browser which runs on various versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, is very popular with e-learning professionals with most preferring it to Internet Explore. It was nominated 2nd top tool in the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008 list by 155 learning professionals.

It’s regarded as the best Web browser in terms of add-ons that users can install to modify or add to existing functionality of FireFox. There are hundreds of FireFox add-ons which can be downloaded from here

firefoxadd.jpgEveryone who uses FireFox has their own personal favourite add-ons.

My favorite add-ons include:

  1. Del.icio.us Bookmarks add-on – great for adding the sites I bookmark to del.icio.us plus excellent for searching my bookmarks in del.icio.us
  2. CoComment add-on – automatically activates coComment when you write comments on all major blogging platforms, on services like Digg, Flickr or Youtube and some Forums making it easier to track responses to comments you leave on other people’s sites.

Glen Gatin nominated Zotero add-on in his top 3 tools because it’s easy-to-use and helps you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. Zotero was nominated 72nd top tool in the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008 list by 155 learning professionals.

Flock

Image of Flock LogoFlock is another free open source web browser that also runs on various operating systems and is based on open source FireFox’s code. It’s becoming increasing popular because of the social networking features built into it’s interface.

steph.jpgDean Groom, John Larkin and ozesteph1992 all twittered that Flock is one of their 3 favorite tools. Ozesteph1992 says “I feel like sitting in planes cockpit where I have all ‘controls’ on my fingertips, just a few clicks” when I use Flock.

One cool feature of Flock is once you’re logged in into your favorite sites such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter the far left side of your flock browser window becomes a mini-people’s feed showing the latest updates from these sites by your friends.

Check out this excellent video by Liz Davis on Figuring Out Flock.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://ca.youtube.com/v/crB8CcYBnBQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Liz Davis has created an excellent range of videos on “how to” use a range of web 2.0 tools and she has located them in this post on her blog.   Make sure you take the time to watch her three video on how to use Google Reader if you are still trying to set up a feed reader.

Blogging and Web Browsers

People’s decision to read and/or subscribe to your blog is based on appearance. The various web browsers display your posts differently so every now and then it’s important to check what your blog looks like in various web browsers.

I’ve had my posts display lovely in FireFox only to be upset to discover they looked terrible in Internet Explorer because my image sizes where too large for the web browser making the posts untidy.

FINAL THOUGHT

Other posts from this Best of Web 2.0 series include:

What’s your favourite web browser, and why? What’s your favorite add-ons, and why? What tips and tricks do you have for using web browsers?

If you are enjoying reading this blog, please consider Subscribing For Free!

Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

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16 Responses

  1. cyclingtroll says:

    Hi Sue – as I read your post some things popped into my head. First, people tend to learn how to use a tool, then generally don’t learn another because “this one works, and I know how to use it”. I liked your comment on that concerning using more than one browser.
    In regard to the display differences; in studios all across the country from the 1970′s onward engineers would keep a set of Yamaha NS-10 speakers hooked up to their mixing consoles. As they worked on a mix, they would sometimes reference the NS-10′s- the thinking was, if the mix sounds good on these, the mix will sound good on anything. In that regard, it makes sense to set up your layouts so that the “weakest link” browser will show it in at least a passable way. Also, the stats you present show explorer still in the lead, so to my mind it still makes sense to set up your pages primarily for that browser. That’s my 2 cents and more. Thanks as always for the great tips!

    Tom Hitt
    cyclingtroll.com

  2. Britt says:

    Nice post. I routinely use both IE7 and Firefox. As a online course developer, I can log in as the instructor in one and student in the other to test things out. I also like the Firefox plug-ins. In addition to the delicious plug-in, I have been experimenting with Diigo’s Firefox toolbar. Know you had problems with it, but it appears to be working for me…and it auto-tags in delicious too.

  3. Sue Waters says:

    @Tom I agree often we get comfortable with what we use and can become reluctant with trying another. I’m very comfortable with FireFox and have tried out Flock but would need to force myself to spend a week using Flock to start understanding its benefit. On the other hand there is pressure in twitter to jump on the latest shiny new tool which becomes really draining. Your comment about Internet Explorer is probably one of the best comments I’ve had — because it’s like so obvious but I hadn’t even thought of it. So from now on I’m going to regularly check my blogs in IE.

    @Britt I know lots of people are enjoying using Diigo. The issues I’m having is that the diigo toolbar with cocomment addon when I try to run iGoogle in FireFox crashes FireFox every time. It’s the combination that causes the issue – apparently iGoogle uses a lot of iFrames that doesn’t help. Both Diigo and cocomment have looked at the issues however it really lies with Diigo to address. So if/when they solve the problem I will be able to test Diigo better.

  4. Sue, I like your comment that you can run more than one browser. This is very easy now since you can bookmark your favourite sites on-line with del.icoi.us and others–they are not ‘glued’ to your specific browser and computer.

    I recently downloaded the Flock browser and there are a lot of features about it that I really like–though I have a lot to learn! I could see using Flock when I want to stay connected to the goings on on Twitter etc, and using Firefox when I need to shut out distractions and get down to work! Yes, I know you can run Twitter add ons in Firefox–but Flock is just so set up for social networking.

  5. chriswherley says:

    I recently loaded the Flock browser on my laptop after seeing a tweet from a twitter “friend”. Just getting started with the Web 2.0 technologies, I found Flock to be very overwhelming, but will continue to utilize it from time to time to see if I can find the benefit in its utilization.

    @sue thanks for the comment on my blog. I posted a new entry about blogging from the discussion at OpenPD and after mentioning your participation in the session, I noticed that you had left a comment on my Diigo entry awaiting my moderation. I did find the Diigo blogging feature useful and will try it again as I keep learning and sharing.

    Keep Learning and Sharing,
    chris

  6. Frank's Blog says:

    Hi Sue …

    I use Flock primarily, but still fire-up Firefox a lot because I have a personal attachment and loyalty, but mostly because I use the portable version off of my USB flash disk. I do like Flock’s native twitter client tucked nicely in the People sidebar. I can also split the main browser window to surf sites whilst (try to use Aussie terms just for , just learnt “daggy” last night … love the word even it’s rearend origins, hehe) perusing my media files in youtube, flickr, etc. at the same time. Since most Firefox addons also work perfectly fine with Flock, once they make a user-friendly portable version of Flock I will be 100% Flock.

    Important to note that “Favorite” browser is not the same as the browser that a user chooses to use. Here in Mexico it is simply cultural like Catholicism. People use it because it was here first. They simply don’t question the status quo and go with the flow. So even though IE is probably close to 90% use here, it is just a indicator of dislike for change and being different.

  7. Sue Waters says:

    @Claire I use the different web browsers for troubleshooting. Some of our applications for work haven’t been designed to work with FireFox (unbelievable). Flock would probably take me a week of forcing myself to use to be convinced. I’m definitely one of those stick in the muds sometimes.

    @Chris I’m with you. FireFox isn’t so different from Internet Explorer but is much nicer than IE. Flock is just that bit more. Always happy to leave comments :) . Haven’t made time to throughly road test Diigo it’s on the to-do-list.

    @Frank totally agree it is more a dislike to change as shown by my reluctance to take the time to learn how to use Flock and Diigo. For the average person downloading and installing programs is very frightening and they would be convinced a different web browser would destroy their machine. Impressed with your learning of Aussie slang you are such a dag — looking forward to coming to a Barbie at your place (are you living in woop woop?) “Do we need to bring our own plates?” or “can you chuck a shrimp on it for me?” and forget the Sheilas.

  8. John says:

    I know this blog was posted awhile ago, but I wanted to mention how impressed I’ve been with the recent beta release of Google’s Chrome browser. It’s lightening fast and has some really intriguing bells and whistles. The only disadvantage is that many sites still have yet to add Chrome as an accepted browser. Because of this, Chrome isn’t my only browser (I also use Firefox 3), but it has quickly become my favorite.

    Keep the great posts coming. I enjoy your blog!

  9. Sue Waters says:

    @John I’m glad you like The Edublogger. Very valid point regarding Chrome — perhaps I need to consider doing an update to include Chrome. I’m still using FireFox Version 2 because quite a few people have mentioned the problems they are having with the latest version.

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